CONFERENCE FOR THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONSTITUTION OF MONGOLIA - Opening Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

Dec 20, 2016

CONFERENCE FOR THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONSTITUTION OF MONGOLIA

Opening Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann,

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative,

20 December 2016, the Government House,

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

  • H.E. Mr. Nyamdorj, Vice Speaker, Parliament of Mongolia
  • H.E. Mr. Enkhbold, Chair of the Standing Committee on State Structure,
  • Honourable members of parliament,
  • Distinguished Guests and participants,

It is hard to underestimate the power of a country’s constitution. A constitution captures the social contract between the state, and the people it seeks to serve. Legally, it is the “supreme law of the land,” standing above all other legislation and providing the foundation for the rule of law.

As the United Nations, we are honored to be part of this event marking the 25th anniversary of Mongolia’s first democratic constitution.

That this Constitution has endured for 25 years is a remarkable achievement. While social stability has played a part, credit is also due to the wise choices of its founding fathers. Since 1992, the Constitution has provided a solid basis for democratic governance in this country.

Nonetheless, its early success does not mean it should remain unchanged. In the past two years we have heard debates intensify about constitutional reform. In particular, its effects on the balance of state powers, local governance and the judiciary. We also agree that the resources of the Constitution are far from exhausted, as many national scholars put it.

However well-conceived, a constitution is only as good as its implementation. This demands complex policy and legislative choices. It is a long-term endeavor, requiring years of institution building and continuous adjustments. Where implementation fails, all gains in state-building may be compromised. UNDP’s lasting engagement in any country requires it to look to constitutional implementation as a basis for future sustainable development.

Together with the Parliament of Mongolia, UNDP has commissioned an independent study by leading constitutional lawyers and scholars. They began in August 2013 and their interim report was published in 2015, titled: The Role of the Constitution of Mongolia in Consolidating Democracy: An Analysis. The team has since updated its work with more in-depth analyses of the recent constitutional events. Today, you have received a copy of their new report, “Assessment of the Performance of the 1992 Constitution of Mongolia”.      

The aim of their analysis was to reflect on the role that the 1992 Constitution has played in Mongolia’s governance, economy and society. It also seeks to generate a deeper comparative understanding of Constitutional provisions in other countries, so implications of possible changes to Mongolia’s can be better considered and debated.

UNDP is delighted to support such an analysis, at a time when Mongolia’s constitution is under review. I would like to express my gratitude to the research team for their hard work over the last 3 years.     

We believe that modifying the Constitution will enhance the quality of governance in Mongolia and contribute to further “building a humane, civil and democratic society in the country”, as set out in the Constitution itself. At the same time, we believe public discussion of these amendments could renew popular attachment to the Constitution, and enhance its legitimacy.

UNDP’s approach to supporting constitutional processes is guided by its mandate to support sustainable human development. This involves inclusive political processes, which give a voice to the poor, to marginalized groups, to women and youth, while improving their choices and opportunities. Constitutional guarantees of human rights – including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights – and mandating courts and commissions to protect them, are vital in promoting a human rights culture.

For the first time, the UNDP has, in its 2014–2017 Strategic Plan, recognized the link between supporting constitution-making and sustainable human development. It identifies constitutional reform as essential to peaceful, inclusive political processes that promote rule of law, human rights and accountability. These ideas are also at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, Goal 16 recognizes the need for stable, inclusive societies governed by strong, accountable institutions, to achieve the 2030 agenda of ending poverty, reducing inequality and protecting our planet.

Placing the government’s power in the hands of its citizens is the ultimate goal of a constitution. It establishes the checks and balances needed to protect the liberty of individuals, and democracy in their society. Without it, progress in human rights and sustainable development would be all but impossible.

UNDP looks forward to working with the Government of Mongolia, civil society organizations and other stakeholders as we go forward to realize this.

Thank you.   

 

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