Accounting for Change in Diverse Societies

Constitutions: Frameworks for Pluralism?

Publication Date: November 2018

Constitutions are often central to state-building, for better or for worse. Constitutions can be the foundations for developing pluralism if they allow for inclusion and diversity in a country’s social make-up. However, constitutions can also be used to create one-dimensional visions of a country’s national identity that also exclude groups that are not part of the majority. In these ways, constitutions can serve to both ease and intensify societal tensions, but constitutional institutions and the framework of values that they contribute to are never static. In order to promote respect for diversity, maintaining an inclusive constitutional framework is an ongoing task.

Christina Murray

Christina Murray is Professor Emeritus of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at the University of Cape Town and a senior advisor to the United Nations Department of Political Affairs on constitution making in post-conflict situations. Her research interests include human rights law (in particular relating to gender equality), international law, and constitutional law. From 1994 to 1996, Ms. Murray served on a panel of seven experts advising the South African Constitutional Assembly in drafting South Africa’s constitution. Her most recent constitutional work has concerned Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Nepal, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan.