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International Journal of Constitutional Law &
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International Journal of Constitutional Law Special Issue: Constitutional Transitions in the Middle East

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is witnessing the greatest degree of political transformation and regime change in a generation. The causes of these revolutions are rooted in corruption, a lack of economic opportunity, and most fundamentally, authoritarianism. What is striking is that constitutional transitions of various forms, albeit whose trajectory is yet unclear, have accompanied regime change in every case—in Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen. New constitutional beginnings are demanded not only as a necessary means to break from a discredited past; they are viewed, perhaps unrealistically, as being necessary for achieving progress in economic and social reform. Indeed, equating constitutional reform with progress has become so commonplace that two non-transitioning states, Morocco and Jordan, have enacted a set of comprehensive constitutional amendments to preempt popular uprisings. The trajectory in Egypt remains unclear and volatile.

Conversely, it is feared that erring in constitutional design will condemn the region to repeat the mistakes of the past, and may open the door to the establishment of Islamic states that may be authoritarian under a new guise, and which could have little respect for human rights, religious minorities or the rule of law. Debates over constitutional design are now at the very heart of political life.

These momentous events mark the occasion for this I•CON Symposium, “Constitutional Transitions in the Middle East.” The discipline of comparative constitutional law has neglected this region almost entirely, on the assumption that constitutionalism and the rule of law mattered little under authoritarian rule.

The papers collected here are intended to bring the focus on comparative constitutional law to the MENA region, and Constitutional Transitions is proud to have contributed to these efforts.

Journal Special Issue: Symposium – Constitutional Transitions in the Middle East

In March 2012, Constitutional Transitions held a symposium on the constitutional reformation of the Middle East and North Africa region in the wake of the Arab Spring. The papers presented at the symposium are collected in this special edition of the International Journal of Constitutional Law (I•CON), with an introduction by Constitutional Transitions Faculty Director Sujit Choudhry. For more information and videos from the 2012 symposium, click here.

The papers are available for download here with a subscription or paid access

Contributions to the Symposium

Constitutional transitions in the Middle East: Introduction

Sujit Choudhry

Designing Islamic constitutions: Past trends and options for a democratic future

Clark B. Lombardi

Judicial institutions, the legitimacy of Islamic state law and democratic transition in Egypt: Can a shift toward a common law model of adjudication improve the prospects of a successful democratic transition?

Mohammad Fadel

Courts and constitutional transition: Lessons from the Turkish case

Aslı Bâli

Between text and context: Turkey’s tradition of authoritarian constitutionalism

Turkuler Isiksel

The Turkish “model” of civil–military relations

Ozan O. Varol

About the Special Issue

Constitutional Transitions generates and mobilizes knowledge in support of constitution building. Constitutional Transitions generates knowledge by identifying issues of critical importance to the success of constitutional transitions, where a lack of adequate, up-to-date research impedes the effectiveness of technical assistance for constitution building, and assembles and leads international networks of experts to complete thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners. Constitutional Transitions mobilizes knowledge through an innovative clinical program that provides “back office” research support to constitutional advisors in the field, and deploys faculty experts and field researchers for support on the ground. We meet existing field missions’ needs for comprehensive research, dramatically enhancing their effectiveness and efficiency in their role as policy advisors and actors.

The International Journal of Constitutional Law (I•CON) is published in association with the New York University School of Law, and is dedicated to international and comparative constitutional law. I•CON has international editorial and advisory boards and an international focus. It examines an array of theoretical and practical issues and offers critical analysis of current issues and debates. In addition, I•CON looks at global trends that carry constitutional implications. It features scholarly articles by international legal scholars, judges, and people from related fields, such as economics, philosophy, and political science.

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