1.4.3 Deadlines

It is useful to have deadlines for the different stages of the process; these are usually set out in legislation or in a founding document. But deadlines must be carefully considered, for too- short deadlines may limit public participation and may give the impression of the process being manipulated, while long deadlines may stretch the process unduly when the need is to provide closure and establish a new order. Processes tend to exceed original estimates or stipulated deadlines. There are various reasons for this: the complexity of the process, a slow start, a genuine underestimation of the time required, procuring financial and other resources, emergencies, and the selfish interests of delegates, commissioners, and the staff of associated institutions in prolonging the process.

Deadlines can be useful, but they require an enforcement mechanism—some way to penalize those who do not meet them. The reality is that deadlines are often missed because political will is lacking or some outstanding questions from the past have not been dealt with. (A good example is the Nepal process.) Constitution-making processes are now quite complex, requiring consensus at different stages for them to move on, but it is easy to assume erroneously that the process will be smooth.