Challenges and Opportunities of Democracy-enhancing Tools in Constitution-Making in Small States

Expectations around public participation in constitution-making are changing. It is now rarely sufficient for constitutional choices to be crafted by experts and ratified by popular representatives. Nor, often, is it sufficient to endorse constitutional choices through popular referenda or plebiscite processes. Instead, there is an increasing focus on, and arguably an emerging transnational norm around, providing opportunities for active and direct public participation. This paper contributes to that discourse by, first, taking a comparative look at the phenomenon to begin to sketch a typology of participatory mechanisms grounded in their actual usage and second, by analysing the challenges and opportunities associated with such mechanisms using small states (with populations of less than 1.5 million) as the lens, instead of larger states which have been the lens for much existing academic analysis. 15 such small states are found in the Asia-Pacific.