The bodies discussed here are mostly fairly large, and they are often charged with a number of functions: educating the public, collecting views, developing guiding principles, and drafting and adopting a constitution. (Some perform only a few of these roles.)
The distinctions among the various bodies are also not precise. A national legislature has a clear role. But a constituent assembly may also be a legislature. And the boundary between constituent assemblies and national conferences also is not a clear one. In this section we consider constituent assemblies and national legislatures together. National conferences, a phenomenon largely found in francophone Africa, are addressed separately.