Constitution-making is often integral to achieving a new political settlement after conflict and in fragile settings. However, the process fails with relative frequency, in that actors cannot agree on a new text or the finalized text is not approved or ratified. While failure may be temporary—the process may resume after a period of time—it can also be costly. Key reforms may depend on the adoption of a new or revised constitution, and in its absence negotiations may stall and conflict recur.

This Paper starts a conversation about the potential grounds for, and strategies to prevent or build on, failure. It was developed following the Ninth Edinburgh Dialogue on Post-Conflict Constitution-Building held in September 2022.


Publication date
15 May 2023
Kimana Zulueta-Fülscher
Number of pages
Peace and Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform, the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law
978-91-7671-632-8 (PDF)


Executive summary

1. How to think about failure

2. What are some of the factors that may lead to failure?

3. Building on failure and preparing for failure: Lessons learned


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How Constitution-making Fails and What We Can Learn from It

Discussion Paper 2/2023
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