Enacting Strong Democracy through Constitutional Design: Ghana’s Bold Experiment
Widely recognized as the most flourishing democracy in the sub-Saharan region, Ghana has for two decades had a successful constitution. As democratic norms and institutions flourished in the country—manifested by a vibrant civil society, a free press, a robust two-party system, and wide acceptance of core human rights values—that constitution, as interpreted by an increasingly activist Supreme Court, kept up with the demands that those new developments made. Yet more recent phenomena—such as spiraling economic development and the human dislocations that go with it, the drive toward greater regional and global integration, and big gains in human development indicators—have now rendered the 1992 constitutional order limiting, if not obsolete.
The 2009 Constitution Review Commission arose out of that dilemma. It was charged to design a constitution that created the space for robust citizen participation in every domain of government and, through that participation, for the process of governance itself to improve. That constitution has now been drafted; ratification is expected. The next hard task will be its enactment, in real time, on the ground. In this workshop, the new Constitution’s chief drafter, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, HLS SJD ’04, will work with a small group of constitutional scholars and political scientists to review plans for the constitution’s roll-out in light of its strongly democratic aspirations. By doing so, they will consider how “smartly designed” contemporary constitutions, in Africa and elsewhere, can build citizens’ capacities for participation in democratic governance, at the same time that those constitutions invigorate the institutions and processes of government itself.