Zaid Al Ali, LAPA Fellow; International IDEA

The Failure of Arab Constitutional Tradition: On the Absence of Social Solidarity and its Consequences

Date: 
Mon, 03/21/2016
Location: 
301 Marx Hall
Audience: 
Public


Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Zaid Al-Ali,  Senior Adviser on Constitution-Building for the Arab Region at International IDEA, to discuss, "The Failure of Arab Constitutional Tradition: On the Absence of Social Solidarity and its Consequences."  The commentator is Menaka Guruswamy, Visiting Lecturer in Law and the Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice at Yale Law School.

LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

From Professor Al-Ali:  "Since 2011, pursuant to the historic demonstrations that swept across virtually all of North Africa and the Middle East, ten countries in the region have reformed their constitutions.  And yet, despite the revolutionary environment, most of the new constitutions resemble the texts that they replaced, sometimes to an alarming extent.  Zaid Al-Ali’s paper explores the reasons for this disappointing development, by focusing on both historical and procedural aspects of the transition, and seeks also to explore the possible consequences."

Zaid Al-Ali  is Senior Adviser on Constitution-Building for the Arab Region at International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance [IDEA] and an independent scholar.  In his work, Al-Ali focuses on constitutional developments throughout the Arab region, with a particular focus on Iraq and the wave of reforms that took place in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen following the start of popular uprisings in December 2010.  Al-Ali has published extensively on constitutional reform in the Arab region, including on process design issues and the impact of external influence.  He is the author of The Struggle for Iraq’s Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy (Yale University Press 2014).  Prior to joining International IDEA, Al-Ali worked as a legal adviser to the United Nations in Iraq, focusing on constitutional, parliamentary and judicial reform.  He also practiced international commercial arbitration law for 12 years, representing clients in investment and oil and gas disputes.  He holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, a Maitrise en Droit from the University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and an LL.B. from King’s College London.  He is the founder of the Arab Association of Constitutional Law and is a member of its executive committee.

Menaka Guruswamy is a Visiting Lecturer in Law and the Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice at Yale Law School.  Dr. Guruswamy practices law at the Supreme Court of India. She has litigated against state-sponsored vigilante groups, litigated for the reform of public administration and bureaucracy, challenged the constitutionality of laws that punish consensual same-sex relations, and defended federal legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children.  Dr. Guruswamy has previously worked at the Office of the Attorney General of India and also practiced law in New York. She holds law degrees from the National Law School of India, Harvard Law School and Oxford University, and has previously taught at Columbia Law School and New York University School of Law.Dr. Guruswamy has consulted extensively for the United Nations, including UNDP, New York, UNIFEM, New York, and UNICEF, South Sudan, on international human rights law, as well as UNDP, Nepal, on constitution making. She has also advised the country of Nepal on its constitution-making process. Her most recent publication is “Crafting Constitutional Values: An Essay on the Supreme Court of India” in Global Values (ed. Davis et al, Hart Publishing, 2015).