About the Working Paper Series:
This series of working papers is a response to the imperative for targeted expertise in support of constitution building in the wake of the Arab Spring. As one of the primary international institutions supporting constitution building in the Middle East and North Africa region, International IDEA commissioned leading international experts to produce research papers on specific issues of constitutional design that will need to be addressed by states in the region seeking more democratic institutional frameworks. International IDEA, together with Constitutional Transitions, has brought these papers together in this Working Paper Series.
Egyptian Constitutional Reform and the Fight against Corruption
By Zaid Al-Ali and Michael Dafel
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This paper addresses the question of how a constitutional text can contribute to a commitment to prevent and eliminate corruption. It was originally prepared as part of the Egyptian Constitutional Drafting Manual presented to members of the Egyptian Constitutional Assembly during 2012. Its purpose, in that context, was to provide members of the Constitutional Assembly with an overview of the deficiencies of the 1971 Egyptian Constitution in establishing an anti-corruption framework. The paper has since evolved, as the Constitutional Assembly completed its work in November 2012 and the New Constitution for the Arab Republic of Egypt went into force in December 2012. Its focus is now an investigation of the strengths and weaknesses of the 2012 Constitution, as compared to both the 1971 Constitution and Egypt’s experience under it, and international constitutional trends in the fight against corruption. The paper draws its comparative examples from the Middle East, Africa, and India. It offers an initial assessment of the 2012 Constitution by detailing the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches reflected in these international examples, the 1971 Constitution, and the 2012 Constitution. In particular, the paper focuses on (i) state budget procedures, (ii) the public procurement system, (iii) the legislature’s oversight of the executive and oversight of the legislature itself, (iv) the Supreme Audit Institution, (v) the independence of the judiciary, (vi) the independence of the prosecuting authorities, (vii) an anti-corruption ombudsman, and (viii) human rights and corruption.
An English translation of Egypt’s 2012 Constitution is available here.
Zaid Al-Ali is Senior Advisor on Constitution-Building in the Arab region at International IDEA, and is based in Cairo. He was previously a legal advisor to the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq and to the United Nations Development Programme (Iraq Office), where he advised on constitutional, parliamentary, and judicial reform. Mr. Al-Ali has written extensively on constitutional reform in the Arab region. His publications include: The Struggle for Iraq’s Future: After the Occupation, Fighting for Iraqi Democracy (Yale University Press, New Haven 2014, forthcoming); The Iraqi Constitution: A Contextual Analysis (Hart Publishing, Oxford 2014, forthcoming, with Jörg Fedtke); “Constitutional Drafting, National Uniqueness and Globalization”, in Thomas Fleiner, Cheryl Saunders and Mark Tushnet (eds), Handbook on Constitutional Law (Routledge, London 2012, with Arun Thiruvengadam); “Constitutional Drafting and External Influence”, in Tom Ginsburg and Rosalind Dixon (eds), Comparative Constitutional Law (Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham 2011); and “Constitutional Legitimacy in Iraq: What role local context?”, in Armin von Bogdandy and Rüdiger Wolfrum (eds), Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2011).
Michael Dafel is a legal researcher at the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional Law at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. He acted as a research fellow at International IDEA, Cairo, Egypt, a fellowship sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law (Constitutional Transitions). His research focus during this period was the decentralization of power, the independence of the judiciary and anti-corruption frameworks, in the context of the constitutional transformation of the Middle East and North Africa region.