On January 20 2014, Constitutional Transitions Director Sujit Choudhry spoke at a World Bank event on constitutions and legal systems in the Middle East. The talk, titled Post-Arab Spring Constitutionalism: Revolution, Retrenchment or Renovation, addressed current debates over constitutional design, a subject of critical importance in the Arab region.
Professor Choudhry discussed several core propositions about constitutional transitions that academics have learned in the last several years. While these propositions are considered universally applicable, they are most relevant in the modern Arab regions. Professor Choudhry asserted that: 1) political inclusion produces constitutional stability; 2) constitutions are social contracts among the people as a whole, and pacts among political elites; and 3) new democracies face the risk of democratic authoritarianism that we should be alert to now. Finally, Professor Choudhry discussed the role of constitutions as devices not only for democratic transition, but also for political co-optation.
The discussion was chaired by Sidi M. Boubacar, Chief Counsel, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank and Guenter Heidenhof, Sector Manager, PREM, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank, served as a discussant.