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Nov 14, 2022

Government of Belize Launches People’s Constitutional Commission

A giant leap has been taken in the process of drafting a new Constitution of Belize. Upon taking office in November 2020, the Briceño administration introduced the Ministry of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform and Religious Affairs, with the intent of carrying out an extensive revision of the Constitution of Belize. Earlier this year, they announced their intention to form a People’s Constitution Commission and began taking applications from various groups across to the country to make up the body. The P.C.C. has been finalized and it has been tasked with guiding a complete review of the Constitution of Belize. Today, the People’s Constitution Commission was officially launched on the steps of the National Assembly Building in Belmopan. It has been given eighteen months to consult with Belizeans across the country on the necessary reforms. They will then present their findings to the prime minister in a final report at which point those recommended changes will be taken to a referendum. All members of the P.C.C. were officially sworn in during today’s ceremony.


Henry Charles Usher

Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Constitutional Reform

“Rewriting the supreme law of the land is no task that should be taken lightly. It can only be done at the right time and under the right circumstances. The mandate can only come from the people and the people must be at the center of the process. Today, we believe that as the government that the time for a people’s constitution has come. In this our forty-second year of independence, the Belizean people are taking a hard look at the systems and structures of governance, thinking about new ways to solve problems, graduating from representative government to participatory government. They want to accelerate and hopefully complete the process of decolonization. They want to won their independence. In April 1981, neither the Premier of Belize nor any member of the Opposition was present in London at the constitutional conference which finalized the Belize Constitution. The country was deeply divided and a state of emergency was in effect. Belizeans had no real say in making the constitution, other than hastily held and poorly attended town meetings where the majority of the time was spent deciding on national symbols. Very little information was presented to the people and as historian Ashad Shoman recently said in a newspaper article, the consultation was just a formality, as people were never given the opportunity to change the colonial framework. Since then there have been many amendments to the constitution, incremental reform, expanding rights, and curtailing government abuse, but as a people we have been limited in our efforts to expand substantive freedoms and create the conditions for genuine and sustainable development.”

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