The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has allocated funding to the Department of Political Science and Public Administration Makerere University to undertake activities aimed at strengthening the rule of law and constitutional development in Uganda. Under the UNDP programme on Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy, the Department will among other things hold dialogues and seminars to analyze policies, laws and other legislation relating to constitutional governance, rule of law and electoral policies in Uganda. Based on its preliminary findings, the Department will work with different partners to draw up an advocacy campaign aimed at broader uptake of the changes recommended.
At the project preparatory meeting held on 13th August 2018 at Fairway Hotel in Kampala, participants mainly members of staff from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and representatives from UNDP and the School of Law held extensive discussions on the rule of law and constitutional democracy before brainstorming on priority areas for research. With reference to the project requirements outlined by Ms Anette Mpabulungi- Wakabi, Team Leader of the Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy at UNDP, participants pointed out the need to urgently deal with a number of issues including the question of imperial presidency and the militarization of the constitution and institutions.
Sharing experiences on how Mauritius has managed to uphold the rule of law and constitutional democracy, Dr Julius Kiiza from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration said the country (Mauritius) adopted a doctrine of inclusive politics and the best loser system that provides for eight additional seats allocated to the best losers ‘who were candidates’. He noted that Mauritius had also adopted a zero tolerance policy with regard to corruption and that ‘government officials automatically step down from office over a mere report in the media implicating them’.
During the meeting, Dr Zahara Nampewo from the School of Law gave the legal perspective, specifically emphasizing the need to deal with the question of imperial presidency.
Participants agreed on four priority areas for the project. These include building grass-root momentum for democracy, constitutionalism and accountability as well as gender and constitutionalism.
The three-year project is expected to result into electoral reforms and new policies relating to constitutionalism, human rights and good governance. It will be coordinated by Dr Suzie Nansozi Muwanga, former Head Department of Political Science and Public Administration.
The Department will work with a number of institutions namely; Makerere University School of Law, Law Development Centre, Uganda Law Reform Commission, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Parliament of Uganda, Ministry of Eastern Community Affairs, Electoral Commission and Ministry of Foreign.
Overview of the Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy Programme (Source – UNDP website)
Government of Uganda and UNDP agree that rule of law and constitutionalism are key engines of development progress. Upholding Rule of Law and constitutionalism results is a key path of achieving sustainable development. On the other hand, absence of rule of law and non-adherence to the constitution is associated with conflict and poverty.
Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy as key tenants of good governance, have been identified as strategic areas that will enable Uganda reach middle income status as planned in both the national Vision 2040 and the realisation of the global Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (sdgs) especially goal 16 on peace, justice and accountable institutions.
Rule of law and constitutionalism also enhances overall institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs, sustainability of economic growth, investment attraction as well as peace and security.
The UNDP programme on Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy (RCLD) is therefore aimed at developing national capacities with a key focus on five key issues namely;
- Legal reforms,
- Updating, harmonisation and coherence of laws,
- Nurturing independence for institutions of democracy,
- Capacity development of law enforcement systems,
- Social engagement for effective and sustainable culture of constitutional democracy, protection of human rights and effective implementation of relevant laws, and;
- Ensuring actualisation of provisions for affirmative action for women, youth and marginalised groups.
Gender mainstreaming aspects
The programme has specific interventions targeted at improving gender equality and empowerment of women as we work towards Rule of Law and Constitutional Democracy. The interventions include support to select Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as non-state actors to develop systems and mechanisms that will facilitate affirmative actions for women e.g. In the electoral processes and in their political representative roles.
Further, technical and financial support will be provided for research, monitoring of inclusion and participation and engagement of women in political, economic and social development. Capacity development support will also be provided to entities such to promote and protect human rights including ensuring access to justice for women. In this programme will work with the Equal Opportunities Commission and select Civil Society Organisations and Associations to advocate for gender equity.
The project’s main objectives are;
- To ensure national capacities in Rule of Law are developed and utilised,
- To enhance overall good governance with augmented separation of powers, independence of institutions of democracy and civic engagement,
- To enable access to justice including the fulfilment of human rights,
- To advance affirmative action for women and marginalised groups.
The project is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Uganda to a tune of USD $8,430,000.