1.4.12 Implementing the constitution

Constitutions that are the product of long negotiations in which different interests are carefully balanced, or that seek to make fundamental changes in the organization of the state and society, or that are agreed to under external pressure, are not easy to implement. Many provisions, particularly those dealing with values and ethical standards, or institutions aimed at accountability and the rule of law, may remain weak. Therefore special attention needs to be paid to the mechanism for a constitution’s implementation and enforcement. This is seldom done as part of the constitution-making process. In some recent processes this matter has been addressed by a variety of measures: a schedule (an annex) in the constitution dealing with transitional matters; another containing a list of legislative and other steps necessary for implementation and deadlines for action; an independent commission with responsibility for supervision and implementation; a constitutional provision that principles should be implemented by executive authorities so far as possible, even if no legislation has been passed; a provision that courts should be able to give orders within the same framework; the empowering of civil society to participate in the implementation and mobilization of the constitution; and making the implementation of certain principles a condition, for example, for the assumption of specified powers by the executive or the legislature.