Carter Center Calls on Tunisia’s Authorities to Finalize Creation of Constitutional Court and to Elect Independent Members

Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison,
In Tunis, Fida Nasrallah, + 216 94 556 461

(En français)


The sustainability of democracy depends, in large part, on the establishment of institutions to protect Tunisians’ constitutional rights and freedoms, including independent constitutional authorities and a Constitutional Court.

But significant delays in establishing Tunisia’s Constitutional Court are threatening democratic progress, impeding the ability to bring laws enacted under previous authoritarian governments into alignment with the 2014 Constitution. While the Interim Authority for the Control of Constitutionality of Draft Laws can rule on certain matters, its powers are limited.

One of the most progressive aspects of Tunisia’s 2014 Constitution is the creation of a Constitutional Court designed to protect constitutional rights and freedoms. It is essential that this court – which is endowed with the primary legal and moral authority to interpret the constitution – be strong and independent, as it is tasked with considering the constitutionality of proposed amendments and delicate cases of law, including potential conflicts of competence between the president and prime minister, and matters of presidential impeachment and vacancies.

The transitional provisions of the constitution stipulated that the Constitutional Court be established within one year of the 2014 legislative elections, i.e. before Nov. 25, 2015. Although the president ratified legislation to organize the court in December 2015, parliament has failed to establish the body, exceeding the timeframe laid out in the constitution by several years.

According to the constitution, the court should be composed of 12 judges, including four elected by parliament and another four elected by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). The president appoints the final four members.

The parliamentary nominations process has proven challenging and has been stalled for years.

The Parliament’s Consensus Committee, composed of the heads of all parliamentary blocs, has met several times and failed to agree on a list of candidates. Key stakeholders have observed that the process of selecting the court’s members appears to have been politicized.

The resulting delays jeopardize the ability to protect Tunisians’ basic constitutional rights and freedoms.

In a spirit of respect and support, The Carter Center makes the following recommendations to help move the selection process forward:

  • Members of parliament should work together to accelerate the process of electing the court’s justices;
  • The parliament’s electoral commission should conduct its review objectively and advance all candidates who fulfill the criteria to serve as a justice on the court;
  • Parliament should invite candidates to deliver remarks in a plenary session to assess their views and suitability for the court;
  • Parliament should choose justices based on their competence and independence rather than for partisan reasons;
  • If parliament votes in three consecutive rounds without the successful election of four members, parliamentary blocs should put forward alternate candidates for consideration;
  • The president should consider equal representation for men and women when appointing the last four members to the court.


Le Centre Carter appelle les autorités tunisiennes à finaliser la création de la Cour constitutionnelle et à élire des membres indépendants

يدعو مركز كارتر السلطات التونسية إلى استكمال إنشاء المحكمة الدستوريّة وانتخاب أعضاء مستقلّين


"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.