- A view from the top
- Country updates
- Indiana Journal of Constitutional Design published
- New PhD fellows appointed
- Speaker series held on law and democracy
- Annual CCD research symposium presented
- Advisory Board news
As it has for the rest of the world, the extraordinary events of this past year have brought new ways of working for the Center for Constitutional Democracy—but, as it turns out, mostly for the good. We have, of course, been unable to travel, and so it has been difficult to advance new programs very much. But for our existing programs, with pre-existing relationships, we have been discovering the wonders of Zoom technology. The coronavirus forced this learning curve upon us; we would surely never have taken it up under normal circumstances. And Zoom is not right for every sort of event. But for certain kinds of work, we have discovered that it is better even than face-to-face meetings, and it will remain a regular part of our work even after we are all free to move around again.
Zoom is cheaper and in some ways more convenient than travel; it allows more scheduling flexibility; and it opens the possibility of bringing more people into the process, especially people who otherwise would not be able to participate. It also allows incremental, steady progress, week after week, rather than the burst of activity followed by relative silence that happens when we travel and then return home.
In particular, in the fall, Susan ran a long-planned conference for the Women’s League of Burma focused on two primary goals: (1) to prepare women members of EAOS, political parties, and armed groups to raise the gender-equality issue in the state constitution drafting process and (2) to give these women activists an advanced technical expertise in fiscal federalism for the union level peace negotiations. Our hope is that this very practical and very technical expertise will give these women entry to the higher levels of the peace process and the union constitutional reform process, because the leaders in those processes desperately need the know-how that these women now have. As part of this conference, one of our JD Fellows helped develop small group projects and worked with the participants to review their responses to these projects.
Since June, David has held more than 100 two- to three-hour Zoom sessions with the state constitution drafters. The immediate goal was to develop a consensual, proposed division of competencies between the union government and the states. Developing a division of competencies is difficult, tedious, and technical, and it is best done over many weeks, so that the participants have time to consider. But in fact, to the best of our knowledge, no division of competencies has ever been done in such a deliberate, dialogic way before.
We have also been meeting with individual state drafting committees to discuss their particular concerns, and, as always happens, they have pushed us to do more cutting-edge research into constitutional design. The students have done much of this research, and a number of them had the opportunity to present that research to our partners. The Burma team has been absolutely extraordinary. With all the meetings, they have had to work harder than ever before, and they have shown us just how much students can do to help change the world. Special recognition should go to the inspired and inspiring leadership of Hayley Sears and Dane Foster.
And we have exciting new plans for the spring semester, but they will have to await a future update!