Center for Constitutional Democracy at IU Maurer School of Law to advise Liberia on constitution
May 30, 2013
The Center for Constitutional Democracy at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law has been chosen to advise the Constitutional Review Committee of the Government of Liberia on the review and design of amendments to the country's 1986 constitution. This is the first time an academic research center has been asked to complete such an assignment.
"We are honored to be selected for this project," said David C. Williams, John S. Hastings Professor of Law and the center's executive director.
"The proposed amendments are coming forth at an auspicious time in Liberia's history, as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf seeks to limit the power of the executive branch. If adopted, the amendments will help achieve this goal."
The center's advising will consist of four sequential activities: civic education about the current constitution; public consultations to gather information about the needs and desires of the people of Liberia; constitutional drafting to help the Constitutional Review Committee design amendments responsive to the people's needs; and public education about the final proposed amendments so the people can cast informed votes in the referendum required to approve them.
The public consultations will be administered by teams of local experts who will be trained and accompanied by the center's J.D. affiliates. Susan H. Williams, Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law and the center's director, is leading a team to develop guidelines for the consultations that will ensure that the constitutional process is welcoming and inclusive for all of Liberia's people, including women, youth, the disabled and rural people who do not speak English.
David and Susan Williams have extensive experience working with the Liberian government on constitutional reform since 2005.
Their work has included writing a treatise on the meaning of the Liberian constitution for use by lawyers and judges; drafting anti-corruption statutes; developing the process for constitutional reform; training Liberian lawyers to become professors in their home country; empowering women's groups to advocate for change; and designing proposed amendments to the constitution.
Once the data from the public consultations have been gathered and collated, the Center for Constitutional Democracy and the Liberian Constitutional Review Committee will use the findings to inform the design of specific proposed amendments.
In order for them to become part of the constitution, the president and the legislature must approve any proposed amendments, and then the voters must support them in a referendum to be held in 2015.
The center has produced a video explaining its role in advising the Liberian government.