–Zaid Al-Ali, Senior Adviser on Constitution Building, International IDEA
On 16-17 October 2014, 45 leading scholars, lawyers, judges and jurists met at a conference that was hosted by the Lebanese University in Beirut to establish the Arab Association of Constitutional Law. It is the first association to focus on constitutional law and to bring together experts in the field from across the region. Members include individuals from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait and Yemen.
Following the uprisings that started in Tunisia in December 2010, 10 countries in the region have amended, replaced or considered their constitutional frameworks. Some progress has been made in the struggle for democratization, while significant challenges remain. The Association was established in response to these challenges, and in response to the realization that much of the Arab region’s expertise on constitutional law is not being utilized in the effort to achieve greater democratization in our countries. The Association plans to contribute to continued reform efforts by promoting cross-border learning, by providing objective analysis of the region’s constitutional frameworks, and by actively participating in the drive towards reform. The Association was launched as a non-governmental organization, and will remain politically and substantively independent.
The Association’s board, which was elected on 17 October 2014, consists of the following individuals: Sufian Obeidat (President; Jordan); Salsabil Klibi (Vice-President; Tunisia); Ghassan Mukheiber (Treasurer; Lebanon); Yussef Auf (Secretary; Egypt); Zaid Al-Ali (member; Iraq); Abderahim Maslouhi (member; Morocco); Abderahman Mukhtar (member; Yemen). A scientific committee was elected, and counts amongst its members: Ahmed Ouerfelli (Tunisia); Mahmoud Hamad (Egypt); and Amr Shalakany (Egypt). Finally, the following individuals were elected to a policy committee: Nabila Mufti (Yemen); Omar Hammady (Mauritania); and Mohamed Ghannam (Egypt). The Association’s membership naturally remains open to jurists and individuals with a strong interest in constitutional reform in the region.
The Association’s next conference will take place in Cairo in May 2015, and will be hosted by the American University in Cairo. The conference will have as its general theme: “Shaping constitutional rules to reduce economic disparities in the Arab region”. A call for papers has been issued and is available in English here and in Arabic here.