Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez '13 Offers Guidance to Reforming Countries

Caveat Legislator
Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez
Chicago Council on Global Affairs
April 3, 2012

Among the many pressing matters discussed at last year’s G8 Summit in Deauville, France, much urgency was given to the numerous Arab Spring revolutions then sweeping through North Africa and the greater Middle East. One year later, with the Qaddafi, Mubarak, and Ben Ali regimes gone and a modicum of stability returned to much of the region, many of these former autocracies have shifted their attention away from the process of liberation and toward the far more daunting task of sustainable rebuilding.

The resultant wave of constitutional reform is unprecedented in Middle Eastern history, encompassing not only those countries in which the previous governments were overthrown entirely, but also those where embattled regimes, e.g. Jordan and Yemen, conceded constitutional changes in order to ensure their survival. At present, nearly all of these reforming countries have set strict timelines for the process—in most cases allowing six months for constitutional committees to finish drafting, after which they will submit the new constitutions to popular vote.

While hot-button topics such as the role of Islam and the rights of women have received a good deal of domestic and international press, success in establishing a functional and tenable government will, for the most part, hinge upon the more mundane issues surrounding institutional structures and relationships.