4.1 Civil society and the media

As discussed in parts 2 and 3, a constitution-making body may officially work with civil society and the media in various ways; in a participatory process, in particular, they often play critically important roles in civic education and public consultation activities. (See, for example, the discussion in part 2.2.2.) We suggested in part 2.3.11 that the need for a constitution-making body to engage frequently with the media makes it vital to develop a media strategy. In addition, civil society and the media will often also take on key roles and activities related to the constitution-making process on their own initiative, in many ways quite distinct from any “official” roles they play in supporting the process. These can include roles and activities closely connected with what are generally understood to be important purposes of civil society and the media—exposing and sometimes challenging state institutions, and, in the case of civil society in particular, even mobilizing people against certain state policies. So in carrying out such roles and activities, civil society and the media can sometimes clash or have tense relations with constitution-making bodies.

In this section we discuss some of their key roles and activities, including promoting or organizing for constitutional change, informing the people about issues related to elections, providing civic education, supporting or conducting public consultations, preparing submissions, researching, lobbying, and monitoring the process. In doing so we identify some of the potential problems and dilemmas that can arise in relation to such roles and activities, and offer guidance about the constructive role civil society and the media can play, in particular to promote a participatory and deliberative process.