1.5 Assessing the impact of the constitution-making process

The processes of constitution-making described in this section are of recent origin, a response to the circumstances outlined above. There is not enough research on the impact of the processes in terms of reconciliation, permanence of peace, empowerment of the people, consolidation of democracy, growth of social solidarity, or economic prosperity. With the expansion in the scope of constitutions, especially those with ambitious social and economic agendas, the stakes in their orientation and content have increased and the processes can in these circumstances easily become contentious. There can also be tension for constitution-makers between pleasing the international community and pleasing local interest groups. There is little doubt that such processes introduce the people to a host of political and public issues and provide some education in the mechanisms of the state. But this knowledge is often fragmentary and subject to various interpretations, some clearly spurious and intended to mislead rather than inform. It is therefore necessary to have safeguards against blatant abuse, and oversight by watch bodies. Close attention should be paid to the dynamics of the processes. Correct information and honest analyses of the issues should be provided. The succeeding sections of this handbook address these matters.