Iraqi Constitution: Iraqi Thoughts
by Yasser Alaskary
Full Report (English)
Full Report (Arabic)
has embarked on a transition towards democracy and a key
step in this process will be the conception of a new constitution.
This report, a humble first step in the necessary process
of engagement with ordinary Iraqis, was put together following
numerous roundtable discussions with young Iraqi men and
women in Baghdad, Al-Ramadi, Najaf, Nassiriyah, and London.
be most stable under a federal state structure where many
powers are decentralized. A federal state seems to be agreed
upon by most political parties based on Iraq's ethnic diversity,
but arguably the most powerful case for federalism does
not rest on the country's diverse ethnic makeup but on its
vulnerability to dictatorship.
Using the existing
eighteen-province arrangement serves as a good starting
point to defining constituent units since it avoids cutting
new borders which could be a recipe for future unrest:
owing to the size of its population and political importance,
would need to be a constituent unit of its own.
will also need to be awarded their own constituent unit
since it is likely to be a political flashpoint owing
to its economic importance as an oil producing province
and its multiethnic mix;
to give it the freedom to cater for its unique religious
and spiritual importance which would not be appropriate
in other regions in the country;
- Basra, since
unlike all other provinces in southern Iraq, it has a
significant Sunni Arab population whose voices would otherwise
be drowned out if Basra was amalgamated with any other
- and possibly
Ninawa (Mosul), based on its potential to be another political
flashpoint, but it may also we worth considering merging
all or parts of this province with neighboring constituent
of provinces into constituent units would include:
- Dahuk, Arbil
and As-Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, since they have
had a local government for several years;
- the sparsely
populated provinces of Al-Anbar, Salah Al-Din and Diyala;
- the ancient
and densely populated provinces of Babil, Karbala and
- the tribal
heartlands of Al-Muthana and Dhi Qar;
- and the
eastern provinces of Wasit and Maysan.
power between central and local governments the aim must
be to give regions significant authority so that they can
practice and accommodate for local norms and culture, but
at the same time maintain unity and equality in the country
in more than just name. For Iraq this should entail, to
some degree, the sharing of many powers such as environment,
health, broadcasting, and labor regulation.
likely to be a sensitive issue with a struggle between building
unity and respecting cultural identity. A possible solution
would be to have key stages in education, defined and examined
centrally, at the ages of 12, 15 and 18, with education
in all other years regionally defined.
should be some form of federal law, but it is essential
that each region should be given the power to draw up its
own laws and punishments to accommodate for local norms
and culture. This can be illustrated in the example of An-Najaf,
which will likely want to ban the sale of alcohol which
would not be appropriate in many other areas of the country.
to core powers generally allocated to central government,
powers that would be better suited to remain with central
government to maintain the unity of a developing country
such as Iraq should include communications, postal services,
and the oil industry - which will probably be the basis
of the country's economy for at least the next decade.
of executive and legislative powers in a presidential system
and a bicameral parliament containing equally powerful chambers
would be necessary in Iraq to build significant checks and
balances which can prevent Iraq from relapsing into dictatorship.
All offices of central government should be directly elected
to give the positions legitimacy and increase accountability.
The first chamber should be elected in general elections
through a proportional representation system thus preventing
"lost votes", improving country unity and focusing
the agenda on political policies and not individual popularity.
The second chamber, which would allow for regional representation,
should give each constituent unit equal seating.
most important aspect which needs to be successfully implemented
is the rigorous application and maintenance of individual
rights. As well as identifying the rights of citizens, based
on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the constitution
should provide a mechanism for the implementation of such
rights. A parliamentary ombudsman should be set up, with
a mandate to review all legislation and its implementation
to ensure that it does not impinge upon any rights detailed
in the constitution. In addition, a commission should be
established to provide a mechanism whereby individuals can
approach and register alleged violations of individual rights
and thus provide regulation from the top and bottom.
The most effective
way of preventing the emergence of a theocratic regime and
to move politics away from the mosque is to include in the
politic arena religious parties which are committed to only
working within the legal infrastructure. The unnatural secularization
of the country would inevitably alienate the majority of
the population and strengthen support for extremists.