Call for Papers: The Arab Association of Constitutional Law’s Fourth Annual Conference
The American University of Cairo
and International IDEA
issue this call for papers for:
The Arab Association of Constitutional Law’s Fourth Annual Conference
The Arab Association of Constitutional Law will be holding its fourth annual conference in Cairo on 2-3 May 2015. The Association will be organizing the conference in cooperation with the American University of Cairo and International IDEA. The conference title will be: “Shaping constitutional rules to reduce economic disparities in the Arab region”. In order to inform the discussions that will be taking place at the conference, the organisers are commissioning a number of papers, covering the following issues:
- Comparative survey of constitutional reform in the Arab region since 2011: This paper will focus on all or a majority of the countries that have undergone constructional reform or amendments in the region (including Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Yemen). The paper will set out the areas in which the changes were concentrated, and whether those changes were the result of public demand or were top down. The paper will also examine any the trends that developed during the reform process, including whether the reforms that were entered into contributed or worked against demands for social justice.
- The distribution of revenues generated from the sale of natural resources: This paper will examine all the provisions that are set out in Arab constitutions on how the revenues that are generated from the sake of natural resources should be managed and distributed. In particular, the paper will determine whether existing rules have led to a reduction in economic inequality in the relevant countries. This should cover issues including but not limited to: (a) the various forms of ownership of natural resources as well as their impact; (b) the various mechanisms through which revenue can be collected; (c) the establishment and management of sovereign wealth funds; etc.
- Budgeting, Public Expenditure, Debt & Development: A growing number of constitutions include specific provisions on the procedures that must be followed in adopting the annual state budget law, and on the law’s substantive content. For example, Egypt’s new constitution provides that specific proportions of the budget should be allocated to health, education, university education and scientific research (articles 18, 19, 21 and 23 of the 2014 Constitution respectively). Iraq’s 2005 Constitution provides that the state should provide “an allotment for a specified period for the damaged regions which were unjustly deprived of them by the former regime, and the regions that were damaged afterwards in a way that ensures balanced development in different areas of the country” (article 112(1)). This paper will examine all such procedures and substantive requirements with a view to determining whether they have contributed to the reduction of economic inequality in the Arab region.
- Fiscal redistribution between sub-national units: Modern constitutional systems recognize that, within the context of a single country’s borders, some provinces are often far wealthier and therefore generate far more tax revenue than others. Some constitutional systems set in place fiscal redistribution requirements such that wealthier provinces are made to subsidize development in poorer areas of the same country. This paper will focus on those Arab constitutions that include such requirements. The paper will examine the mechanisms that have been established to realise fiscal redistribution, and will also discuss whether such rules have been effective in reducing economic inequality in the region.
- The right to non-discrimination: The vast majority of Arab constitutions prohibit any form of discrimination. Many constitutions now also state that citizens may not be discriminated against on the basis of social class, and that all citizens should have access to equal opportunities without discrimination (see for example articles 9 and 53 of the 2014 Egyptian constitution). This paper will examine the impact that these provisions have had in the effort to reduce economic inequality. In particular, the paper will examine whether these provisions have led to: (a) greater access to courts for indigents and for individuals who live in rural areas or in areas that are far away from the court’s highest judicial authorities; (b) greater access to constitutional courts; (c) requirements that taxation should be progressive or equitable; and (d) wage equalization mechanisms, such as minimum and maximum wage requirements.
- Anti-corruption: Oversight on the investment of public monies in Arab countries remains a major concern. This paper will therefore focus on transparency and anti-corruption mechanisms that are contained in Arab constitutions. In particular, the paper should focus on issues include: (a) the independence from the executive branch of government of oversight institutions such as the audit institutions; (b) the right to access information; (c) the power of parliament to oversee the expenditure of public funds, including through public accounts committees; (d) the establishment of anti-corruption courts.
The individuals who will be selected to carry out the above studies will be required to prepare oral presentations summarizing their findings at the conference in Cairo on 2-3 May 2015. All the papers that will be issued pursuant to this conference will be published in a joint volume in both English and Arabic.
If you are interested in carrying out any of the above studies, please write to Mr Maged Taha at [email protected] no later than 17:00 Cairo time on 16 February 2015. In your email, please include a 400-word abstract of the areas that you plan on covering and on the outline. Papers can be authored by individuals, by co-authors or by institutions.
Read this event in Arabic here