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Regimes reinventing themselves: Constitutional development in the arab world

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Chapter Summary

In the Arab world, and in the Middle East more generally, most constitutional documents have been promulgated less by the nation assembled than by existing regimes seeking tools to enable them to face domestic and international challenges. In the 19th century, regimes ruling much of the Arab world experimented with written constitutions in response to fiscal and international crisis. In the first half of the 20th century, newly independent Arab states issued written constitutions in order to affirm their sovereignty. Juridical sovereignty is no longer a motivation for constitution-writing. Arab states have come under a variety of domestic and international pressures; and constitutional design and redesign have provided them some tools for crafting constitutional responses. The examples of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) and the limited revival of Arab parliaments suggest an anomalous pattern: Arab constitutionalism is less wedded to democracy than initially appears.

Keywords: Arab world; constitution-writing; iscal crisis; juridical sovereignty; Middle Eastern constitution; Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC)



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