2.3.10 Security

Today, many conflicts end in stalemate, and the constitutional process is one of negotiation among previously warring factions. Spoilers may remain outside the process and pose serious threats. Managers have to face the possibility, often quite real, that constitution-related activities will be disrupted by violence. In Iraq and Somalia constitutional commissioners were murdered and in Afghanistan rockets were launched in an attempt to hit the tent of the Constitutional Loya Jirga. Security procedures need to be developed to suit the context and all constitution-makers, staff members and those participating in the process should be briefed about them, such as what do to in case an armed intruder enters the constitution-making area or a vehicle is attacked.

Security is also essential to guarantee that a participatory process protects the rights to freedom of speech and assembly as well as personal security. In Zimbabwe [ongoing process] people participating in a public consultation meeting were beat up and even arrested for observing the process. Managers must determine the level of security needed to safeguard the process. In postconflict contexts in particular, official security forces may not be trusted; private security companies (even international ones) may be required (though their record has not always been good). And if there is a severe shortage of local security options, the international community may play a role. In insecure environments, constitution-makers or others may demand excessive security protection. Constitution-making venues of all types (for public consultation as well as deliberations) must be carefully selected to avoid security risks. It may be necessary to decide the context is so volatile that public consultation and travel must be limited.

Constitution-makers have addressed the issue of security in different ways. In Eritrea, management went directly to the heads of the military and negotiated with them for security for all aspects of the process. In Albania, local police and constabulary forces were enough to counter threats of violence. In Afghanistan [2004], the army checked every car entering the constitution-making area for bombs, perhaps now a common post-9/11 practice. Managers should be specific with security providers about their needs, and enter into a written agreement about such issues and how many security officials will cover each event and what they will be expected to do.

Handling security requires more creative solutions when the police or the military may have committed human rights abuses, may represent a particular interest and be considered biased, or may be viewed as poorly trained. In some contexts, police or other officials may be an impediment to public participation; in Kenya [2005] the police were asked to keep out of public consultation meetings because people feared to speak openly in their presence. Commercial security firms may sometimes be used instead of the police, either because of the inadequacy of the latter or because of their perceived loyalties.

The international community has helped provide security. These efforts have ranged from United Nations peacekeepers or other security forces providing security at constitution-making events or meetings to their providing security information. The international security providers should work in close coordination with the national actors so that no steps are taken that will undermine the process.

Outreach teams and field offices will need communications systems so that they can be in touch with their base. When the United Nations is involved, it judges security situations on a scale and takes corresponding precautions, including sometimes prohibiting United Nations employees or consultants from traveling by anything other than a United Nations vehicle, and barring them from going to certain places.