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This essay, which focuses on the process of creating a permanent constitution, draws lessons from the experiences of 17 transitional countries, most of which have emerged from armed conflict over the past three decades. In relation to these cases, the author lays out a practical framework for constitution-making in Iraq, as of early March 2004. Forming a national consensus around a constitution and framework for accountable and participatory governance in Iraq is crucial. The outcome of the current debate about constitution-making could decide whether the country falls deeper toward chaos, reprises some form of authoritarianism, or takes its first shaky but real steps toward peace and free self-government.