The Wilberforce Society | Proposed Constitutional Framework for the Republic of Tunisia
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Proposed Constitutional Framework for the Republic of Tunisia

“An impressive Constitution.”
Constitutional Law Professor and Supreme Court advocate, Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, on TWS’s project.

The Wilberforce Society (TWS) is pleased to release the product of its largest commissioned project to date. Today, it publishes a comprehensive report, comprising a constitutional framework for Tunisia and in-depth supplementary research. The report was commissioned by the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly and Office of the General Rapporteur in early 2011.

 

TWS’s report has been produced by an able team of 26 experts and students, chosen after a rigorous selection process. The Project was led by Dr. Riddhi Dasgupta, TWS’s senior advisor and the chief draftsperson, and Mr. George Bangham, Chairman of the Society. They have received consultation and briefing from lawyers, economists, diplomats and political advisors in Tunisia and around the world.

 

Dr. Dasgupta and Mr. Bangham jointly issued a statement describing the report as “TWS’s most ambitious project to date, and a rare and fascinating opportunity for scholarship to combine with real-life political change in the aftermath of the Arab Spring”. During their fieldwork in Tunisia, and North Africa generally, the Project utilised influencer analysis, social media analysis, scenario planning, future analysis, and crowdsourcing from Tunisian academics, politicians, NGOs, and citizens.

 

This Constitutional Draft is set apart from other submissions in three respects. First, it takes a vigorous stance against public as well as private corruption. Second, in Article 18 proposes restrictions on the injection of corporate and foreign funding into Tunisian elections. Third, it promotes a very clear separation of powers and some of the Executive’s non-unilateral powers. The accompanying documents lay out in extensive detail the political and economic choices that confront the Tunisian people as well as the need to balance constitutional permanence and flexibility.

 

A TEDx event, with the new Constitutional Draft as its centerpiece, was held in 2013, with the event broadly addressing the stimulating theme of The Failure Paradox.

 

The research involved the drafting of a new constitutional framework, with the accompanying research divided into 5 key themes:

 

1. Separation of Powers

 

2. Judicial Independence and Judicial Review

 

3. Individual Rights and Responsibilities

 

4. Democracy and Fair Elections

 

5. Anti-Corruption Laws and Practices

 

AN INTERNATIONAL CONSULTATION

 

TWS’s involvement in this project was supported by its extensive network of academics, diplomats, politicians and think-tanks, with whom it will share research and findings. It is hoped that the involvement of a student think-tank in the Tunisian Constitutional Framework will help provide new and unexpected insights into the drafting of a 21st-century constitution, and the students involved will aim to apply their academic interests and expertise to the project’s benefit.

 

RESEARCH IN TUNIS

 

Representatives of the TWS Panel spent summer 2012 carrying out political research in Tunis. Amongst many meetings with representatives of Tunisian politics and civil society, they consulted the President of the Constituent Assembly, Mr. Mustapha Ben Jafar, the Minister for Culture, Mr. Mehdi Mabrouk, and representatives from the major political parties (including Ennahda and Ettakatol) and the UGTT, Tunisia’s trade union syndicate. Meetings were also held with independent observers including Tunisia Live news, The Carter CenterTunis, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

 

The TWS Tunisia Constitution Panel submitted its report to the Tunisian Constituent Assembly on Wednesday 26th September 2012.

 

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