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Newsletter Issue 5  |  December 2018
This newsletter is published by the Constitution Transformation Network (ConTransNet) based at Melbourne Law School. We are a network of expert scholars sharing our latest research and experiences regarding the development of constitution-making processes, content and implementation.
"External assistance & constitution-making" by Prof Cheryl Saunders

The modalities and effectiveness of external assistance to national projects for constitution-making, often provided in the aftermath of conflict, has been a recurrent theme in 2018. It has echoed debates regarding related forms of assistance, namely, peacemaking and peacebuilding, and transitional justice.

At its best, external assistance offers additional resources to support constitutional-building; actors with a degree of impartiality and distance from internal tensions; and comparative knowledge and experience about the process and substance of constitutional change. However, concerns about the success of constitutional projects, particularly in the difficult conditions associated with internal conflict, have been realised in recent years. Arguably, in at least some cases, failure is attributable, in whole or in part, to a shortfall in a sense of local ownership.

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The 2018 Melbourne Forum on the "Implications of Culture for Constitution-Building", was held from 15-16 October in Colombo. The Melbourne Forum is an annual event co-hosted by International IDEA, ConTransNet and a local partner. In 2018, we were very pleased to partner with the Centre for Policy Alternatives, Sri Lanka. The Melbourne Forum also brought together practitioners and scholars from more than 10 countries in our region.

We we are now very pleased to share with you the online Report from the Third Melbourne Forum on Constitution-Building in Asia and the Pacific. The report summarises issues raised in each session. It also includes links to the papers presented during each session. We are also very pleased to share with you (links below) three publications in our new Melbourne Forum Constitutional INSIGHTS series, which were launched at our 2018 Melbourne Forum. This series captures insights from previous Forums in an accessible and practice-oriented format.
 
Constitutional INSIGHTS #1: Constitutional Beginnings examines the choice between making a new constitution and amending an existing constitution to achieve substantial constit-utional change. This choice arises in the early stages of constitution building. It is likely to affect the constitution-building process and it may have significance for the perceived legitimacy of the changes.
Federalism or devolution involves the organization of public power so that govern-ment, on at least two levels, is more responsive and accountable. Constitutional INSIGHTS #2: Implementing Federalism explains why any change from a centralized to a federal or devolved system is a significant one. It also outlines some of the challenges that arise in the context of such change, and suggests options that might be available to meet them.
Constitutional INSIGHTS #3: Asymmetric Territorial Arrangements in Decentralized Systems deals with the questions presented by constitutional or legal arrangements that treat one region of a state differently from others. Differential treatment of this kind is sometimes described as ‘asymmetry’. Asymmetry is a feature of constit-utional arrangements in all parts of the world
In an article for the UN Newsletter, Prof Cheryl Saunders shared her insights "On the nexus of peacemaking and constitution-making". Her article reflected on discussions at Roundtable co-hosted by the Berghof Foundation and the UN’s Department of Political Affairs to discuss this topic in New York from 21-22 May 2018. 
In his article,"Searching For Democracy 2.0 Without Losing Democracy 1.0", Dr Tom Gerald Daly, ConTransNet Co-Convenor and creator of the Dem-Dec Resource, reflected on how to reimagine and safeguard democracy, while charting a course between alarmism and complacency.
Seminar: "National Identity and Supranational Integration: European Union reflections"

On 14 September, Dr Michael Goldhammer, an Academic Visitor to Melbourne Law School, led a special seminar on "National Identity and Supranational Integration". Dr Goldhammer reflected on the effectiveness of constitutional law in settling supranational conflicts, using the European experience to offers insight into its strengths and limitations.

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Workshop: "Second Somalia Constitution-Making Meeting"

On 21 November, ConTransNet hosted members of the Somalia diaspora, as well as an official from the Somali Government and a Somali Federal MP, at a meeting to discuss the ongoing Somalia constitution-making process. Discussions focused on the most critical issues still under discussion, namely how to effectively design a federal system of government and distribute powers and resources. 

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Dem-Dec Launch: "Is democracy decay-ing? And what can we do about it?"

On 22 October 2018, Melbourne Law School, Melbourne School of Government, in partnership with Dr Tom Daly, creator of the Democratic Decay Resource (DEM-DEC) held the official launch of the resource at the University of Melbourne. The launch took the form of a panel discussion, with reflections from scholars focusing on democracy in Poland, Venezuela, India and Australia.

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Event: "Celebrating Prof Cheryl Saunders & 30 yrs of the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Law"

On 30 November, Melbourne Law School celebrated the 30 year milestone of the establishment of CCCS, one of the first such centres in the world. A 1-day conference reflected on developments in comparative constitutional law since 1988, as well celebrating the achievements of CCCS's founder, Prof Cheryl Saunders, a leader in her field.

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