Participation Key to New
24 May 2011 With the opening of the Constitution Making Forum,
the Government of Sudan initiated a broad-based consultative process for
drafting a permanent constitution, here today. The Forum, an initiative
of the Advisory Council for Human Rights (ACHR) and is supported by the
United Nations, notably the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Delivering his keynote address in the Opening Session, Prof al-Tayib Zain
al-Abdin, Constitutional expert from the University of Khartoum lauded
the Government’s approach in initiating dialogue with civil society
organizations, research centres and international bodies on the making
of the constitution for Northern Sudan. “This Forum should be utilized
to broaden the public debate and participation in the making of the constitution”,
Prof Zain al-Abdin observed. He noted that since the Constitution was
a fundamental political contract between the different communities of
the state, it should reflect their values and cultures and address their
interests and ambitions.
Delivering his opening remarks, Mr. Ahmed Idriss Ali, who represented
ACHR, said the permanent constitution of Sudan must express the hopes,
aspirations and will of the people of Sudan. Thanking the United Nations
for its support in enabling the participation of international experts
from different parts of the globe to share their insights into the Constitution-making
process at the Forum, Mr. Ali said the new Constitution should include
all freedoms stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR).
“The sovereignty of the state is equal to the freedom of its citizens.
People’s will is sovereign as well, Mr. Ali pointed out.“Speaking
on the occasion, Mr. Claudio Caldarone, Country Director, United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) emphasized the need for the Constitution
making process to be nationally owned and led. He expressed the hope that
the new constitution would uphold Sudan’s commitment to basic human
and socio-economic rights principles, taking forward the successful approach
adopted by the Interim National Constitution. “For the United Nations,
whether it is the process of drafting or deciding on the substance of
a new constitution, both the substance and process are critical for the
success of making the new Constitution”, Mr. Caldarone noted.
The Constitution Making Forum is a platform for sharing of national and
international experiences in constitution-making processes and for drawing
lessons for constitutional reform in Sudan. Apart from inputs from wide-ranging
national experts, special papers on specific country experiences and outcomes
will be presented by constitutional experts from Kenya, South Africa and
Malaysia at the two-day Forum.
Highlighting the need for a comprehensive public consultation process
leading up to the drafting of the Constitution, Professor Zainal-Abdin
said, “The constitution-making has to be a wide societal process
in the full sense of the word”. He cautioned that reaching a common
ground on vital constitutional issues is not going to be an easy or short
process, given the diversity and differences among and between the various
political, cultural and ethnic groups in the country. “The Muslim
tradition has the concept of Ijma’ (consensus), if Ijma’ is
ever possible in modern society it should be over the constitution of
the country.,” Prof Zain al-Abdin said.
more information please contact:
Kumar Tiku: Head, Communications Unit, UNDP Sudan: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change
and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help
people build a better life.