Constitution building

Analysing relationship between constitutions and emergency responses to Covid-19

People attending a video conference call

International IDEA inspires policy influencers to place threats to democracy on the public agenda and to hold policymakers accountable through publications, communication products and events on Covid-19’s impact on democracy and human rights.

The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 caused a significant number of states to enact a variety of legal and policy responses to combat the spread of the virus. In many places, this has included declaring a constitutional state of emergency. In response to the challenges presented by the pandemic, International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Programme (CBP) worked with its long-standing partner, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to develop a Guidance Note on Covid-19, Emergency Powers and the Protection of Human Rights and the Rule of Law, which was disseminated to UNDP headquarters and field offices in the summer of 2020. 

CBP also leveraged its broad network of global constitution-building advisors and implementors to develop and publish a series of 50 videos featuring country-level scholars discussing the constitutional/legal responses of governments around the world to the Covid-19 pandemic. The project is the result of a partnership between International IDEA, the New Zealand Center for Public Law, and the Center for International and Area Studies at Northwestern University.

Internally, CBP has assisted the Democracy Assessment team in its global and regional Global State of Democracy assessments on Covid-19 and democracy, advising on constitutional and legal emergency framework structures, comparative approaches, and analysing democratic developments and risks. 

In December, this focus on Covid-19 continued at the 2020 Edinburgh Dialogues on Post-Conflict Constitution-Building. This DFID-funded dialogue event, implemented in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, brought together scholars and practitioners from conflict-affected countries around the world to examine the nature of legal responses to Covid-19 and the implications for peacebuilding and constitution-building in years to come.