A constitutional amendment alters the content of a constitutional text in a formal way. Constitutions need to be amended over time to adjust provisions that are inadequate, to respond to new needs, including supplementing rights. Otherwise, the text of a constitution cannot reflect social realities and political needs over time. Yet the constitution also needs to be protected from short-sighted or partisan amendments.

International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Primers are designed to assist in-country constitution-building or constitutional-reform processes by helping citizens, political parties, civil society organizations, public officials and members of constituent assemblies make wise constitutional choices. They also provide guidance for staff of intergovernmental organizations and other external actors working to provide well informed, context-relevant support to local decision-makers.

Each Primer is written as an introduction for non-specialist readers, and as a convenient aide-memoire for those with prior knowledge of, or experience with, constitution-building. Arranged thematically around the practical choices faced by constitution-builders, the Primers aim to explain complex constitutional issues in a quick and easy way.

This revised and reformatted edition was published in October 2017.


Publication date
01 September 2014
Markus Böckenförde
Number of pages
978-91-7671-115-6 (Print)


1. Introduction

2. What is the issue?

3. Amendment formulas: basic design options

4. Further design considerations

5. Contextual considerations

6. Decision-making questions



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Constitutional Amendment Procedures

International IDEA Constitution-Building Primer 10
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