Symposium: Constitutional Transitions in the Middle East

To mark its official launch on March 30, 2012, Constitutional Transitions hosted an academic symposium bringing leading experts on Middle East constitutionalism to offer their reflections on constitutional developments in the region.  The panelists included Asli Bali (Acting Professor, UCLA School of Law), Mohammad Fadel (Assistant Professor, University of Toronto Faculty of Law), Turkuler Isiksel (Assistant Professor, Columbia University Department of Political Science), Clark Lombardi (Associate Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law), Chibli Mallat (Presidential Professor, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah; Saint Joseph’s University, Lebanon) and Ozan Varol (Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law).

The Middle East and North Africa are witnessing the greatest degree of political transformation and regime change in a generation. Constitutional transitions of various forms are at the center of many of these processes in countries as diverse as Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey. At the symposium, there were two panels. The first panel focused on Turkey. Among the variety of issues discussed were judicial appointment processes in the context of constitutional reform, the tension between liberalism and authoritarianism, and the military’s potential to act as a guardian during constitutional transition. The second panel was entitled “The Trajectories of Arab Constitutionalism”. During this panel, a diverse array of topics were explored including the differences between a civil or common law approach to Islamic law and the institutional design options for incorporating Islamic law into constitutional governance.

Panel One: The Turkish Constitutional Model?

Judicial Independence and Constitutional Transition in Turkey

Aslı Bâli

Between Text and Context: Turkey’s Tradition of Authoritarian Constitutionalism

Turkuler Isiksel

Military:  The Fourth Branch of Government?

Ozan O. Varol 

Panel Two: The Trajectories of Arab Constitutionalism

Legal Culture and the Problem of Article 2 in the Egyptian Constitution

Mohammad Fadel

Institutional Design Questions for Regimes that Constitutionalize Shariah

Clark Lombardi

The Constitutional Moment

Chibli Mallat

Video Recording

Click here for a video recording of the first panel, “The Turkish Model?”

Click here for a video recording of the second panel, “The Trajectories of Arab Constitutionalism”

Date and Time

March 30, 2012 from 1100 to 1630.


Asli Bali, Acting Professor, UCLA School of Law.

Mohammad Fadel, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.

Turkuler Isiksel, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Columbia University.

Clark Lombardi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law.

Chibli Mallat, Presidential Professor of Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah; Saint Joseph’s University, Lebanon.

Ozan Varol, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Panel Chairs and Those Providing Remarks

Sujit Choudhry, Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law, NYU School of Law and Faculty Director, Constitutional Transitions.

Richard Revesz, Dean, NYU School of Law.

Samuel Issacharoff, Bonnie and Richard Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law.

Kevin Davis, Beller Family Professor of Business Law, NYU School of Law.

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