Institutional Reform

Workshop on institutional reforms in Guinea-Bissau
May 16th-17th 2018, Bissau

Shortcomings and ambiguities in the legal and constitutional framework, compounded by structural challenges in State institutions, lie at the heart of recurrent political and institutional instability in Guinea-Bissau. The country's longstanding crisis, which deepened after mid-2015, is symptomatic of these inadequacies and the tendency to undermine the rule of law.

Cognizant of these realities, the ECOWAS Mediator for Guinea-Bissau, President Alpha Condé of Guinea, and the signatory parties of the Conakry Agreement of October 2016 ensured that provisions on far-reaching institutional reforms were included in the political accord as a way to end the crisis. The agreement, inter alia, called for the signing of a Stability Pact by the main political and social forces which enshrined the principles of “a constitutional reform that establishes stable relationships between executive, legislative and judicial branches; […] a reform of the electoral law [...]; a new law on political parties including the public financing of political parties; [...] a reform of the defense, security and justice sectors”.

The consensual appointment of Aristides Gomes as Prime Minister on April 16th was an important step towards the resolution of the recent political and institutional crisis in Guinea-Bissau. Following the formation and swearing in of an inclusive Government, the attention of national political actors is now shifting to the organisation of legislative elections on November 18th, 2018. Such developments alone, however, are unlikely to guarantee lasting stability in the country unless major weaknesses and shortcomings in the institutional architecture of the State are fixed. 
To contribute to discussions amongst the political and civil society actors of Guinea-Bissau, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), at the request of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), elaborated a series of policy briefs on key reform areas, namely constitutional reform, reform of the law on political parties, reform of electoral laws, justice reform and the reform of the defense and security sector. These policy briefs are the result of field research and analysis conducted from March 2017 to January 2018 by a team of researchers from the Dakar office of the Institute for Security Studies, with the support of experts from Guinea-Bissau, as well as regional and international experts.

It is within this context that UNIOGBIS, in collaboration with the Dakar office of the ISS, is organizing, on 16-17 May 2018, a workshop in Bissau to present the above-mentioned policy briefs and contribute to the reflection on the envisaged reforms and on how they could be implemented as part of efforts to consolidate peace and foster sustainable development in Guinea-Bissau.

The following policy briefs will inform the discussions during the event:

Provide Guinea-Bissau with a new constitution to strengthen the rule of law and stability
Review of the electoral laws
Review the Framework Law on Political Parties
Pursue the construction of an independent justice system that is of use to the population
Relaunching defence and security sector reforms in Guinea-Bissau
Which institutional reforms for Guinea-Bissau? (summary of recommendations)