11: The new spring of constitution-making
The year 2011 was a fateful year for the authoritarian Arab regimes.The old regimes have been swept from power but the laborious task of establishing a new Arab democratic remains.
- Is the Arab spring to become an autumn for rights and freedoms, including the rights of women?
- What of constituent assemblies, consultative commissions, the role of the army, the role of Islam?
This workshop will focus primarily on a series of questions concerning the process of constitution-making after the Arab Spring (first phase).
During the last twenty years, many new constitutions were made as a consequence of political transition, economic and religious reform after revolutions or rebellions or peaceful transitions, particularly in Asian and African countries. Many modern constitutional principles were included in the new constitutions, a product of increasing assimilation, acceptance and learning from foreign experience and of universal constitutional principles. Human rights, direct democracy, the rule of law, ‘laïcité’ have gained widespread acceptance. However, there are a lot of questions still to be answered more explicitly in theory and practice to foster understanding of constitutionalism in the future:
Must constitutional change be a violent disruption? Can major reform of the constitution also be achieved democratically?
After the collapse of the autocratic regimes, how did the new revolutionary forces express the aspirations of the people for a better future through constitutional reform?
How do the new constitutions deal with laws made under the old constitutions?
Is there a democratic way to prevent antidemocratic forces from controlling the process of making new constitutions?
What are the guarantees provided for fundamental rights? What role is there for civil society and for checks and balances? Which option should be chosen for the separation of powers? Should there be parliamentary or presidential system? What role transitional justice and what role should the army play?
What is the role of international and foreign experiences in the process of making new constitutions?
What it the ideal relationship between constitutionalism and social autonomy in the interim constitution-making period. Should decisions in this regard be made rapidly to ensure freedoms more effectively?
Is it an inevitable tendency for new constitutions to be secular and liberal?
In order to develop constitutional principles and to play a more influential role in new constitutions building the new democratic society, it is necessary to define constitutional functions that will establish a reasonable social order and harmonious social relationships, thereby provides more theoretical contributions to the constitutional society. (The second stage.)
The workshop will select 8 presentations of 10 minutes each, 4 for the Arab Spring (the first step) and 4 dealing with the second stage.