Presidential Professor of Law and Professor of Middle Eastern Law and Politics at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah
The Pressing Challenges for Constitutionalism in the Middle East
Joint Paper by C. Mallat and H. Chodosh
Revolutionary history demonstrates that the toppling of stubbornly repressive regimes requires an unusual alignment of mind-boggling incompetence at the top and extraordinary courage and political skill at the bottom. Even on those rare historical occasions when the ancien régime falls, it is even more difficult to replace dysfunctional, authoritarian systems with effective, self-limiting, democratic governments that are dedicated to peace and prosperity for all. During the recent revolts in the Middle East Arab, we observed the sudden, sweeping, and largely successful efforts to topple the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, followed by the fall of Libya this past year, and ongoing struggles in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and other countries throughout the region. Yet the development of constitutional democracies, prosperous economies, and freedom and security for the peoples of the Middle East is far from certain. We cannot know whether the Arab Spring will blossom into a new constitutional order for countries throughout the region. If history is any guide, however, we can observe with confidence that the road ahead will be blocked by formidable obstacles. With humility, we can develop a tentative roadmap of adaptive, practical solutions. Based on nearly many years of combined experience in the Middle East, most recently as key leaders of the Global Justice Project: Iraq, Presidential Dean Hiram Chodosh and Professor Chibli Mallat will address a series of related constitutional challenges of design and implementation that reforming countries in the region now confront and offer some humbling lessons and tentative directions for the future. Critical issues will include the fundamental role of a constitution (as basic law or covenant with the future), the relationship between religion and the state, the consolidation of security forces under the executive power, independence of the judiciary, the rights of women and underrepresented groups, federalism and the competition between hierarchical and coordinate ideals of institutional authority, the relationship between constitutional design and institutional reform, as well as the process for constitutional reform itself.
Chibli Mallat also holds the EU Jean Monnet Chair of Law at Saint Joseph’s University in Lebanon and has held research and teaching positions in the US at Princeton University, Yale Law School, the University of Virginia Law School, the Library of Congress, University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School of Law, in Europe at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of Lyon, and in Lebanon at Saint Joseph’s University and the Islamic University. He was the 2011 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Visiting Professor of Islamic Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. As a legal practitioner and consultant Professor Mallat has litigated several international criminal law cases, and advises governments, corporations and individuals in Middle Eastern and international law. He established and ran the Daily Star law page, and is a frequent op-ed contributor in newspapers ranging from the Nahar (Lebanon) to the New York Times. He sat as advisor to the Constitutional Revision Committee of Iraq in 2009 for the Global Justice Project: Iraq, and was legal advisor to the State Department and the Bahraini leadership and opposition in 2011. He actively participated in the revision of the Egyptian Constitution in 2011. He also ran for president in his native Lebanon in 2005, and is the Chairman of Right to Nonviolence, an international NGO based in the Middle East. Professor Mallat is the author or editor of over 35 books, including Introduction to Middle Eastern Law (Oxford University Press).