What we did: Through advisory services and communication products, we supported constitution-makers in Chile.

What we achieved: Constitution-makers learned how to make informed choices regarding constitutional design and process.

Who we did it with: Building on years of working with our constitution experts, the trust led Chile to work with International IDEA once again to help redesign a stronger, more inclusive constitution in Chile.

Impact area: Constitution-Building Processes

Project: Country-level assistance

Donor: Core

Boundary partner: Constitution-makers

 

After the October 2019 popular protests in Chile, in response to the increased price of metro tickets in Santiago de Chile, President Piñera engaged the opposition in negotiations that resulted in an agreement for social peace and the drafting of a new constitution. Demands for a new constitution that would replace the 1980 Constitution, drafted and promulgated by General Pinochet, were long-standing. 

In line with the political agreement, the 1980 Constitution was amended to provide for a process for wholesale constitutional reform. On 25 October 2020, a referendum was organized in which Chileans supported—in a landslide—the proposal for a new constitution to be drafted by a fully elected constitution-making body. On 15 and 16 May 2021, elections were held for a 155-member gender-equal Constitutional Convention. On 7 July 2021, the Constitutional Convention was officially established. 

Chile’s constitution-building process, which is planned to last no longer than 12 months, is of critical importance for Chile itself, but also further afield as it could inspire others in the Latin American region and globally, not least because of the equal participation of women and a stronger representation of indigenous peoples than ever before. International IDEA’s engagement in Chile started in 2015, when the Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean became the only foreign member of a Presidential Advisory Council working against conflicts of interest, influence peddling and corruption in Chile, and opening the door for International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Programme to assist the government in planning a public participation process that was to lead to broader constitutional reform. 

International IDEA’s engagement with Chilean boundary partners led to increased cooperation, particularly as the Chilean actors learned that International IDEA can provide valuable advice and comparative knowledge. As an indication of the strength of the relationship, the group of government advisors that International IDEA worked with from 2015 to 2018 called International IDEA back after the 2019 demonstrations to assist throughout the new constitution-building process, to give Chilean constitution-makers and civil society the comparative knowledge the organization had provided in the past, and to develop new comparative knowledge that would respond to Chile’s particular context.  

As a result of this continuous engagement, International IDEA is now one of only very few international organizations that have a formal cooperation agreement with Chile’s Constitutional Convention. This cooperation agreement is already allowing International IDEA to reach out to the Convention’s representatives and their advisers, and share its knowledge resources and expertise on issues relevant to the representatives in their negotiations. 

Through our support and advisory services, we aim to inspire and support constitution-makers and the general community in Chile to learn more about why and how marginalized groups need to be involved in the constitution-building and increase their skills in designing a participatory constitution-building process.