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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.

The Tunisian Judicial Sector: Analysis and Recommendations

By Tom Ginsburg

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The success of a constitutional transition in a post-authoritarian context depends to a great degree on whether the courts can safeguard the principles of democracy embedded in a new constitution. The goal of judicial system design in democratic societies is to have a judiciary that is independent, accountable and competent. Furthermore, the courts must also be perceived as such by citizens. As Tunisia continues to consolidate constitutional democracy after the Arab Spring, the architects of the new Tunisian Constitution must pay careful attention to these imperatives. This paper brings to bear some of the recent comparative research on judicial independence, the design of the judicial system, and constitutional reform, and notes that while Tunisia’s 22 April 2013 Draft Constitution begins the process of building a new democratic judiciary, further detail is required. The institutional choices made in constitution-making will shape the judiciary for some time to come. The paper ends with recommendations for how remaining concerns could be addressed.

Tom Ginsburg

Tom Ginsburg is Leo Spitz Professor of International Law and Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago Law School. He currently co-directs the Comparative Constitutions Project, an effort to gather and analyze the constitutions of all independent nation-states since 1789. His book Judicial Review in New Democracies (Cambridge University Press 2003) won the C. Herman Pritchett Award from the American Political Science Association for best book on law and courts. He is the author of The Endurance of National Constitutions (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York 2009, with Zachary Elkins and James Melton), and recently served as editor for Comparative Constitutional Design (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York 2012). He served as a legal advisor at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands, and consults with numerous international development agencies and foreign governments on legal and constitutional reform.

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