Handbook Background Research

The following pages contain research gathered and formatted during the development of the CBP handbook – A Practical Guide to Constitution Building. The research does not appear in the handbook itself but informed the thinking and discussions around different approaches of dividing powers among branches of government in different constitutions. It may likewise inform the discussion of constitution builders as they negotiate the allocation of constitutional powers to different branches of government.

The research explores the distribution of competences among the branches by looking at the powers assigned to each branch, as well as the limitations placed on it.  It briefly summarizes different areas of power, followed by a series of different constitutional arrangements for attributing control to different branches of government in that area. The series of arrangements range from the highest level of influence or control to lowest level of power in the area discussed. Each section focuses on a single branch of government; therefore multiple sections look at the same issues from the perspective of different branches. Because it is rare that a single branch controls an entire area of influence, constitution drafters will need to consider the proper balance of powers among all branches in each area and across areas, rather than merely looking at an area as it relates to one branch. In a system of checks and balances, a high level of power concentrated in one branch is not always desirable. Drafters of a constitution will need to carefully consider an individual country’s needs and circumstances in order to achieve an optimal balance of powers.