The Center for Constitutional Transitions, International IDEA and the United Nations Development Programme

Decentralization in Unitary States: Constitutional Frameworks for the Arab States Region

The Center for Constitutional Transitions, along with International IDEA and the United Nations Development Programme, has prepared a series of thematic, comparative research reports on issues in constitutional design that have arisen in the Middle East and North Africa. These reports are jointly published  in English and Arabic, and will be used as engagement tools in support of constitution-building activities in the region (e.g., in Libya, Tunisia and Yemen).

The report, Decentralization in Unitary States: Constitutional Frameworks for the Arab States Region, explores the important issue of how decentralization can be implemented in unitary countries to deepen democratic values and improve the quality of life and human security in neglected communities. The report addresses the benefits of decentralization to the MENA region and how constitutional incorporation of various principles can increase opportunities for decentralization and help improve standards of living throughout the region.

There are three dimensions of decentralization: political decentralization, administrative decentralization and fiscal decentralization. Democratic reconstruction presents a good opportunity to establish a system of decentralized local government. This report explores three main elements of a system of decentralization in unitary countries and offers options for constitutional design in each element: 1. the architecture of decentralization, including the demarcation of boundaries and the design of different levels of government; 2. the political aspects of decentralization, including processes for selecting local executives and legislatures and the relationship between various units and governments; and 3. the implementation, sequencing and monitoring of a decentralization programme.

The other reports in the series are:

Read the Report:

Download the full report (English)(Arabic)

Order a Printed Copy (through International IDEA)

About the Partner Organizations

Constitutional Transitions generates and mobilizes knowledge in support of constitution building. Constitutional Transitions generates knowledge by identifying issues of critical importance to the success of constitutional transitions, where a lack of adequate, up-to-date research impedes the effectiveness of technical assistance for constitution building, and assembles and leads international networks of experts to complete thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners. Constitutional Transitions mobilizes knowledge through an innovative clinical program that provides “back office” research support to constitutional advisors in the field, and deploys faculty experts and field researchers for support on the ground. We meet existing field missions’ needs for comprehensive research, dramatically enhancing their effectiveness and efficiency in their role as policy advisors and actors.

International IDEA is an intergovernmental organization with 28 member states that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. International IDEA’s mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics.

International IDEA produces comparative knowledge in its key areas of expertise: electoral processes, constitution building, political participation and representation, and democracy and development, as well as on democracy as it relates to gender, diversity, and conflict and security. IDEA’s work is non-prescriptive and IDEA takes an impartial and collaborative approach to democracy cooperation; emphasizing diversity in democracy, equal political participation, representation of women and men in politics and decision making, and helping to enhance the political will required for change. International IDEA is a Permanent Observer to the United Nations.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been partnering with people at all levels of society since 1966, to help build nations that can withstand crisis and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, UNDP offers global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

UNDP‘s focus is helping countries build and share solutions to the challenges of Poverty Reduction and Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, Democratic Governance, Crisis Prevention and Recovery, and Environment and Energy for Sustainable Development.