On 10 October 2012, the Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law (Constitutional Transitions) welcomed Saïd Arjomand to give the second presentation of the twelve-part Constitutional Transitions Colloquium. Arjomand is Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Global Studies at Stony Brook University (SUNY). Video of the event is available here.
Professor Arjomand’s paper begins from two premises: that the recent revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were fundamentally constitutional revolutions, and that the resulting constitutional frameworks ought to be examined as political bargains between competing interests. The paper comparatively examines Iran and the three aforementioned North African states, and identifies four major axes by which to distinguish the cases: the historical context of rule of law and constitutionalism; the character of the old regime; whether the transition was “negotiated” with the outgoing ruling class or whether the state was destroyed; and, lastly, the constitution’s treatment of Islam.
In broad strokes, Arjomand drew a sharp distinction between constitutional revolutions where Islam served as the basis for the structure of the constitutional regime and for all public policy, and those where Islam serves as a limit on legislative sovereignty. Iran represents the former, whereas Egypt and Libya represent the latter. Libya, Arjomand continued, can be separated from Egypt and Tunisia by the fundamentally weak tradition of rule of law that existed prior to Gadhafi and the nearly complete destruction of the state by the time he was deposed in 2011. Finally, Arjomand classifies Egypt and Tunisia as ‘negotiated revolutions,’ likening them to the post-communist transitions that occurred in Central and Eastern Europe, because the constitution building process involves the drafting of a constitutional text through a process that involves many different political interests.
Please join us for the next colloquium session on 24 October 2012, featuring Nathan Brown’s presentation: “Post-Tahrir Politics and the Puzzling End to Islamic Inflation.” Click here for the full 2012-13 Colloquium schedule.