25 May 2011 - Government and civil society members discussed key issues that Sudan's new constitution should embrace during a two-day forum in Khartoum that ended today.
The forum, organized by UNMIS and several agencies, including the UN Development Programme and UN Women, as well as the national Advisory Council for Human Rights (ACHR), aimed at supporting the constitution-making process in Sudan by examining experiences of other countries and discussing key issues in the Sudanese context.
"What will be the constitution-making mechanisms and the mechanism for approval of the new constitution," Presidential Advisor Badria Suleiman asked, while delivering her paper on key issues and perspectives of the constitution, which would take effect presumably in the coming years following the interim period of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The Bill of Rights, included in Sudan's Interim Constitution of 2005, protection of minorities, fundamental rights of individuals, form of governance, distribution of wealth and peaceful transfer of power were some of the issues Ms. Suleiman said needed attention.
She stated that "special focus should be given to (the north's) socio-economic relation with Southern Sudan", which is set to officially secede from the north on 9 July.
Sources of the new constitution should build on previous constitutions of Sudan and presidential decrees as well as the CPA, the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement, the Darfur Peace Agreement and comparative experiences, noted Secretary General of the National Council for Training Omer Awadallah, delivering his paper on behalf of the ACHR.
Mr. Awadallah emphasized that the country's social component needed attention, stating that language, faith and culture should be considered in the constitution, embracing diversity.
On the form of governance and possible decentralization, he said that a "balance between authority of each state and a central power should be maintained".
Recommendations of participants, drawn from academia, politics and civil society, closed the forum. Participants observed that insurances were needed for the new constitution to become practically implemented as opposed to remaining a sheer document.