Grenada Hosts First Referendum on Constitution ReformMar 15, 2017
At the end of 2016, Grenada held the first referendum on Constitution reform in the island’s history. This was the fourth attempt since independence to amend the national Constitution, with the current exercise taking almost two years to bring about its conclusion. As part of the process, the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee held approximately 50 consultations to identify the issues to be included in the amended Constitution, followed by a larger national consultation event in October 2014. The Committee identified 30 major recommendations of which 16 were selected by majority vote and submitted to the Cabinet of Grenada. Instead of voting on all approved recommendations as part of a complete package in the referendum, Grenada took a different approach by organizing multiple recommendations around seven amendment bills.
At the request of the Government of Grenada and in collaboration with national stakeholders, UNDP support to the Referendum on Constitution Reform Project focused on assistance in the development of well-drafted constitutional amendment bills and the delivery of comprehensive civic education and voter information campaigns; and by assisting the Parliamentary Elections Office in the organization of the referendum and its related administrative processes.
Areas of key support included the development of an ICT platform for the tabulation and publication of referendum results, the development of communication tools for voter and civic education and through the administration of a CSO Small Grant Programme. Technical support and feedback also went into the development of the ballot paper and to providing considerations for the shaping of the legislation to govern the referendum.
Despite the low voter turnout for the referendum, voters were able to exercise their vote freely and fairly. None of the bills achieved the required two-third majority to pass. Nonetheless, the 2016 referendum represents a step forward in creating a greater awareness around the Constitution, Constitution reform and referendum, which is needed for any future attempts of this kind in Grenada. Similarly, the experience has allowed for greater inclusive governance and democracy, and increased capacity within both state and civil society structures.
The United Nations system provides electoral and referendum support to UN member states through technical advice, logistical support and, where necessary, provision of security. In the majority of cases, this support is granted as a direct result of a special invitation from the receiving country. Since 1999, more than 100 countries have requested and have received UN election assistance.