On 10 April 2013, researchers from the Constitutional Transitions Clinic met with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki to discuss Tunisia’s ongoing constitutional transition. The meetings were part of the clinic’s four-day trip to Tunisia, during which they also met members of the Tunisian Constituent Assembly as well as officials from the US Embassy, and presented their research at a conference hosted by the University of Tunis. The delegation included 16 student researchers from 5 countries, who have been working under the supervision of Constitutional Transitions’ Director Sujit Choudhry and clinic co-director Katy Glenn Bass.

President Marzouki graciously welcomed the group at the Presidential Palace. Constitutional Transitions’ researchers posed questions to the President on substantive constitutional matters, including appointment of judges to the constitutional court and the roles of transitional justice and political parties in a transitional context. The president emphasized the need to include all actors and to strive for consensus in developing the country’s emerging constitutional framework. “It was a tremendous honor to have a private audience with President Marzouki. Our meeting was a testament to the importance of our project with International IDEA to support constitutional transitions in the region,” said Sujit Choudhry following the meeting.

Afterwards, the researchers met with Ahmed Ouerfelli, senior legal advisor to the President, who presented and answered questions relating to a proposed initiative for an International Constitutional Court. The initiative involves establishing a mechanism of distinguished jurists to provide legal opinions regarding adherence to democratic standards.

In addition, the researchers were received at the Parliament building that afternoon by three members of the Constituent Assembly, representing both the government and the opposition as well as religious and secular parties. Researchers spent nearly two hours discussing the constitution drafting process, engaging in a detailed discussion on the wide range of issues we have encountered in our clinic research.

While in Tunis, Constitutional Transitions’ researchers also held meetings with U.S. Ambassador Jacob Walles and Public Affairs Officer James Bullock at the US Embassy, where they presented their research and were able to ask the American officials for their perspective on the ongoing transition process.

Watch Sujit Choudhry’s statement following the meeting with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki