From 7 to 11 April 2013, researchers from the Constitutional Transitions Clinic travelled to Tunis, where they presented their research on pressing constitutional issues unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), at a conference hosted at the University of Tunis Al-Manar’s Faculty of Law and Political Science. The team included 16 researchers from 5 countries, who have been working under the supervision of Constitutional Transitions’ Director Sujit Choudhry and clinic co-director Katy Glenn Bass, who also led the delegation to Tunisia. The conference was organized with the support of Constitutional Transitions’ client partner, the West Asia and North Africa Office of International IDEA.

The full-day event was attended by 70 faculty members and students, including Dr. Chafik Sarsar, a prominent scholar of constitutional law and advisor to Tunisia’s constitution drafting process, and Zaid Al-Ali, Senior Advisor on Constitutional Building at International IDEA. The audience responded positively to the presentations, posing many questions to the researchers, especially relating to how constitutional provisions should be drafted to achieve the specific policy outcomes detailed in the reports.

Constitutional Transitions mobilizes knowledge by providing ‘back office,’ real-time support to constitutional advisors through the Constitutional Transitions Clinic, which is the only organization of its kind in the world.  For 2012-14, the client of the Constitutional Transitions Clinic is the West Asia and North Africa office of International IDEA.  Our work with International IDEA has two major components:

  • First, a team of 16 student researchers, based at NYU School of Law, are preparing six, 50 pp. thematic research reports on constitutional issues that have arisen in more than one country in the Middle East and North Africa region.  For year 1, the reports will be on the design of constitutional courts, political party finance regulation, and semi-presidentialism (where power is shared between a president and prime minister).  The ultimate work product will be a set of six reports, which will be translated into Arabic and disseminated on-line, and jointly published by International IDEA and Constitutional Transitions.
  • Second, nine field researchers are stationed with International IDEA for 4 months each in the Middle East. The researchers anchor our client relationship with International IDEA by providing on-the-ground support for its technical assistance activities.