Sripati, Vijaya. “United Nations Constitutional Assistance Projects in Comprehensive Peace Missions: An Inventory, 1989-2011.” International Peace Keeping 19 no. 1 (Jan/Feb 2012): 93-113.

Do international organizations normally set (and implement) standards about how (national) constitutions should be written or what they should broadly contain?  No. Unbeknownst to many, the UN has offered constitutional assistance since its inception with UNCA projects mushrooming after 1989 in both the “post-conflict” and development assistance contexts.  Indeed, 2011 marks two decades of UNCA, sanctioned in the context of peace missions, by the Security Council since 1989.  However, regretfully UNCA remains uncharted, having escaped critical scholarly attention.  What is more, until recently, the UN shrouded UNCA under the generic term, “electoral assistance.”  It has also has neglected to provide a list of its completed and ongoing constitutional assistance projects. Finally, the Security Council uses varied terminology for constitutions and constitutional assistance.  However, this comprehensive inventory of UNCA projects fills the gap.  It provides an analysis of the events leading to the authorization of UNCA by the Security Council, lists the relevant Security Council resolutions, and maps the expansion of UNCA activities from the earliest projects in Congo and Namibia onwards.  Since a comprehensive analysis of the “UNCA moment” has never before been undertaken, provision of these details is significant.  A brief essay on UNCA prefaces this inventory.  The essay shines the spotlight on the use of UNCA to influence the process of constitution-making and the constitutional outcome in more than thirty-five politically weak and poor states.

Entry Submitted By: Vijayashri Sripati

About the author: Dr. Sripati holds a PhD in law from Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, Canada.  She spent the second year of her doctoral studies as a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School, United States.  A recipient of the SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship, she is preparing a book manuscript on UN Constitutional Assistance.