2.3.5 Capacity development

In a country emerging from conflict, capacity development can be an extensive task, and perhaps costly, because institutions that develop skills and knowledge relevant to a constitution-making process—such as parliaments, academic institutions, and civil society organizations—will often have collapsed. In these cases, developing the skills and knowledge necessary for staff members to carry out their tasks is essential if the process is to be nationally owned and led. This can include providing training on how to plan, take minutes of meetings, use the Internet, conduct civic education, administer and manage a process or run a referendum.

Ideally, all staff members should have a basic understanding of the whole idea of a constitution and constitution-making. The more the members of the staff understand, the more committed they will feel to the project. Staff members who are in contact with the public, or are involved in the production of documentation, or who analyze submissions, will need more. Different levels of training will be needed for different types of staff members. Training in the terminology of constitutions will be essential for translators and interpreters.

When the international community has a stake, it often rushes the process and provides foreign advisers who perform key tasks, such as drafting the constitution or devising the rules that govern the process. While this may speed up the process, it blocks the opportunity to build capacity for other democratic tasks and more importantly may lead to the people not feeling a sense of ownership over the results.

Taking the time to develop capacities strengthens the foundation and sustainability of other democratic institutions that emerge. For example, in Afghanistan [2004], many of the trained personnel of the secretariat for the constitution-making process later managed and staffed the newly formed electoral management body and secretariat for the legislature.