DPI Online Roundtable: ‘The Legal Basis for Peace: Constitution Making in Polarised Societies’ 10 August 2021

DPI held an online roundtable entitled ‘The Legal Basis for Peace: Constitution Making in Polarised Societies’ on 10 August. The online roundtable is part of a series of meetings that aim to explore the debates on constitution making processes in polarised societies and the contribution constitution-making process can have in conflict resolution. The aim of the event was to discuss the constitution-making process in South Africa’s conflict resolution, and envisage the legal preparations needed for the possible resumption of a resolution process in Turkey.

The event’s keynote speaker Albie Sachs, a former Judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, has played an instrumental role in the creation of South Africa’s Constitution following the end of the Apartheid regime and the creation of a constitutional democracy in the country. In his presentation, Sachs shared his experiences surrounding the drafting of the South African Bill of Rights and explained how the creation of a new constitution fit into the larger peacebuilding process. He offered valuable insights as to how constitution making can be successful in a divided society, and how this process can contribute to the peacebuilding process in Turkey.

Sachs provided his first-hand account in the creation of the Bill of Rights, which would protect people on the basis of humanity, not on the grounds of race. Additionally, a Bill of Rights would help to protect the future democracy of South Africa by preventing new leaders from challenging the new democratic principles. The Bill of Rights presented by Sachs at the 1988 meeting would go on to become a central element of the ANC’s vision for the future of South Africa.

The discussion on successful constitution making process in a segregated society serves as a source of inspiration for future constitution making efforts in Turkey, showing that although the process is highly difficult, but attainable.

The online RT forms part of a larger series of activities planned in the context of the project: “Forging Pathways to Peace and Democracy in Turkey”, supported by the Norwegian and Irish government.