What is a Constitution? Principles and Concepts
The vast majority of contemporary constitutions describe the basic principles of the state, the structures and processes of government and the fundamental rights of citizens in a higher law that cannot be unilaterally changed by an ordinary legislative act. This higher law is usually referred to as a constitution.
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. To order a print copy, visit the International IDEA website.
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