This Peace Brief examines the timeline for constitutional reform in Libya’s August 2011 Constitutional Declaration with an eye towards ensuring Libyans have sufficient time to negotiate and draft a new constitution that will support Libya’s transformation towards constitutional democracy.

Summary

  • The National Transitional Council (NTC) new Constitutional Declaration is a critical develop ment in Libya’s transition to democracy. But while most features of the document are very positive, the relatively short timeline for the transition may create significant challenges.
  • The current road map provides 60 days for the drafting of the constitution, followed by approval by the National Public Conference (NPC) and then ratification by national referendum. Sixty days is an almost impossibly short time to research, examine, negotiate and draft the numerous constitutional issues that must be addressed in the permanent constitution.
  • The compressed timeline effectively guarantees there will be no public consultation on the constitutional draft.
  • Transforming the process from a negotiation driven by the Libyan elite to a national dialogue, with public participation, can provide a framework for negotiation and reconciliation among political forces and other groups to develop, strengthen and promote national identity.
  • The rush to complete Libya’s transition to constitutional democracy is understandable. The NTC is attempting to assure Libyans it has no intention of dragging out the transitional period and holding on to power indefinitely, and it is protecting the legitimacy of the interim government—all laudable goals. Such considerations, however, should be balanced against the benefits of a longer and more participatory constitution-making process.

About This Brief

This Peace Brief examines the timeline for constitutional reform in Libya’s August 2011 Constitutional Declaration with an eye towards ensuring Libyans have sufficient time to negotiate and draft a new constitution that will support Libya’s transformation towards constitutional democracy. The views expressed in it do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not advocate specific policy positions.

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