In 2006 the UN Secretary-General stated that the rule of law was central to the work of the UN. At the nation-state level, constitution-making is considered a prime vehicle for establishing the rule of law. It is for this reason that the UN believes it can, and should, assist states, particularly post-conflict states, in the constitution-making process although it acknowledges that the process must be nationally owned and led. Its main strategy is to encourage and assist states to incorporate international standards. Constitution making is also understood as a means by which a national identity and national norms are identified and articulated. The constitution-making process ideally creates spaces in which competing sets of norms are debated and reconciled. Arguably these spaces should be sovereign national spaces that preclude the involvement of the UN and international community and that build internal legitimacy for the constitution. This paper explores the tension inherent in the UN’s role in providing constitutional assistance to post-conflict states and it seeks to articulate the means by which the UN can offer constructive assistance.
Grenfell, Laura, 2012, Working paper No.1.6 The UN and ‘rule-of-law constitutions’, Centre for International Governance and Justice, Canberra