The inaugural Melbourne Forum brought together leading academics and practitioners from across Asia and the Pacific to discuss constitution-building in contexts where there is a territorially defined societal conflict. Discussions highlighted both the importance of exchanging knowledge and experiences, and the need for more opportunities for practitioner-focused discussions in Asia and the Pacific. There is actual or potential societal conflict along territorial lines within many polities in the region, reflecting societal diversity in terms of language, religion, tribe, culture or ideology.
Some states in the region have well-established constitutions that were designed with an eye to managing societal conflict. Across the region as a whole there are states where constitution-building is either underway or pending. Their circumstances are very different, and the solutions these states are working towards must necessarily vary as well. Nevertheless, there is considerable potential for countries in the region—and worldwide—to derive insights from each other’s experiences as they grapple with these challenges. The Melbourne Forum was designed with this goal of mutual, shared learning in mind.