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Carter Center Urges Tunisia's Legislative Assembly to Continue to Support Democratic Transition

Contact: Don Bisson +216 21 76 82 08 or

TUNIS — After two years of deliberation and negotiation, Tunisia adopted its new constitution in January 2014. Today, The Carter Center released its comprehensive report on the constitution and the deliberative process that culminated in its adoption, as well as recommendations for next steps in its implementation. The report highlights the National Constituent Assembly's success in establishing a strong constitutional foundation for the guarantee of human rights and the rule of law in Tunisia. The Tunisian model serves as an important example for countries undergoing significant political transition and a reminder that process can matter as much as outcome.

The strength of the Tunisian constitutional drafting process stems from the tireless work of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), political parties, and civil society to overcome divisions and build consensus. The outcome was the adoption of a constitution backed by a vast majority of deputies in an otherwise divided assembly. The Tunisians' ability to bridge policy and religious divides and produce a consensus document was an enormous achievement that has not been duplicated in other countries undergoing transition in the Middle East/North Africa region.

The Carter Center's report makes several recommendations that are especially relevant as Tunisia's first democratically elected legislative body, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP), begins the process of implementing the constitution in domestic legislation and establishing the Constitutional Court and other independent constitutional bodies. The success of the ARP's endeavor will be critical to the long-term success of Tunisia's transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

Recommendations to the ARP include:

  1. Incorporate strong provisions on the independence of the judiciary into the Law on the High Judicial Council that are consistent with international standards and articles 102 and 107 of the constitution. These measures should include an unambiguous affirmation of security of tenure in regards to appointment, promotion, and discipline, with removal of judges possible only for serious misconduct and only following a fair trial. The disciplining of judges should be under the exclusive control of the High Judicial Council with no interference from the executive branch of government.
  2. Review and reform Tunisia's legal framework to ensure that domestic law reflects and respects the rights enshrined in the constitution and the country's international human rights commitments.
  3. Ensure that the ARP's secretariat has the resources to offer appropriate logistical and administrative support to the commissions of the ARP, and that legal advisers are able to focus on research and drafting rather than logistical support. The Carter Center's monitoring of the first months of the commissions' work in the ARP found that this is an ongoing concern.
  4. Establish formal and fair criteria and procedures for the ARP to grant access to commission meetings and plenary sessions and observer status to civil society organizations and interested citizens. The Center's experience so far shows that the access procedures have been inconsistent.
  5. Implement mechanisms to genuinely engage the public in the legislative process and the work of the assembly, including by providing deputies with necessary logistical and administrative resources to conduct public outreach.
  6. Publish and disseminate in a timely manner key official ARP documents, such as minutes, reports, decisions, attendance records, and details of votes, including by posting them on the ARP website, demonstrating commitment to the principle of transparency and the right to information enshrined in the constitution. Carter Center monitoring of the website shows that, although documents of many commissions are posted in a timely fashion, those of the General Legislation Commission have not been posted to date. The Center commends the ARP for posting the attendance records of members.

View the full report in English, French and Arabic.

Background: The Carter Center has had a presence in Tunisia since 2011 and conducted formal observation missions during both the 2011 National Constituent Assembly elections and the 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections. The Center monitored the constitution-making process from February 2012, when the NCA first began working on the document, through May 2014, when the assembly launched a countrywide tour to raise awareness of the constitution and the rights and freedoms enshrined therein. The Carter Center's main goals in this observation were to help make the constitution-making process more transparent and accessible to the public; raise awareness among NCA members, civil society, and the public regarding Tunisia's international human rights obligations; and help ensure that these commitments were fully reflected in the new constitution. The Center assessed the evolution of the constitutional drafts against Tunisia's international obligations to uphold fundamental political and civic freedoms and commented on the inclusiveness of the process and the extent to which it upheld principles of transparency and participation of citizens in the public affairs of their country.

The Center remains in Tunisia to monitor the process of harmonizing the ideals of the new constitution with existing domestic legislation and new legislation being considered by the ARP. The Center is also monitoring preparations for the upcoming municipal elections and working with civil society organizations preparing to observe those municipal elections to strengthen their capacity and share best practices.

To follow the news and activities of the Carter Center's Tunisia field office, like us on


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care.  The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.


Le Centre Carter encourage l'Assemblée législative de la Tunisie à continuer d'appuyer la transition démocratique

يحث مركز كارتر مجلس نواب الشعب بتونس على مواصلة دعم التحول الديمق ا رطي

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