There has been much concern with constitutions and constitution-making in the last three to four decades. The world order has changed a great deal in this time; the final mopping-up of colonialism, with the emergence of new states, the end of military regimes, the collapse of communism, and efforts to end civil conflicts, particularly in multiethnic states, have all contributed to the production of constitutions. The variety of contexts in which constitutions have been made shows that the primary purposes a constitution serves vary considerably: nation- building as a new state emerges; the consolidation of democracy as the military retires to the barracks or authoritarian presidents are deposed; liberalism and the creation of private markets with the end of communism; peace and cooperation among communities to end internal conflicts. These purposes determine the orientation of the constitution, and often also the process by which it is made.
Constitutions are dependent on national contexts in another significant way. The conception and understanding of, and therefore the respect for, constitutions vary, depending in considerable part on national history and the reliance on and respect for law as a key mode of organizing society and state. So the terms “constitution” and “constitutionalism” do not always have the same meaning or impact in all countries.