Arab Digest - January 2014: Constitution-Making in the Arab States

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Parliaments and Constitution-making

A constitution is the fundamental law upon which all other laws of a country are based and must conform. The constitution is the written (sometimes unwritten) basic definition of the character of
a country and the structure of the government in that country.

It is a relatively rare opportunity for a legislator to be directly involved in the drafting and adoption of a nation’s constitution. But there is a growing trend that elected representatives should be actively involved in the development of such a crucial document.

The objectives of constitution-making 

The writing of a constitution often occurs under exceptional circumstances, such as the independence of a nation or after a revolution or political transition from one form of government to another. Amendments to a constitution are more commonplace, but any change to the fundamental law of a country must be done with great care.

A critical aspect of constitution writing is to ensure the document reflects the interests of the vast majority of the citizens of a country. A constitution should be based on a consensus and the document should reflect a set of principles that all citizens in a country can agree upon. A constitution should be above partisan politics and should define the terms of government and interaction by which any party or political group will respect.

From the field: best practices & case studies 

For best practices and an overview of recent development in constitution-making in the Arab States, please download the full Arab digest here.

For further information, please consult the relevant sections in AGORA's areas of expertiselibrary and news sections, or click on the 'constitution-making' or 'constituent assembly' tags at the bottom of this blog post.  

For questions on the digest, please contact Ms Reem Askar at reem.askar@undp.org.