Arab Consultation on the protection of economic and social rights in post-revolutions Constitutions

Constitutional Processes do not start with drafting and end with adoption


Date
: 25 - 26 November 2013
Location: Renaissance Mirage Hotel, Cairo, Egypt

This regional consultation will bring together countries from the Arab region where the process for constitutional reform is still ongoing or has recently finished to take stock of the status of the debate on the protection of economic and social rights in the constitution. Bearing in mind the importance of a comparative approach and south-south cooperation, it will also bring experts from other regions to share their experiences and lessons learnt on this subject.

This Consultation adopts the concept of “Constitutional reform process” as a long and complex process aiming at drafting a new inclusive social contract between different groups of the society and between these groups and the State.

Accordingly, the consultation considers that drafting and adopting the Constitution represent but a single step in a long process that starts before drafting the Constitution and does not end by its adoption. The constitutional process includes:

  1. political and social processes such as societal participation and negotiation that determine success in reaching a Constitution that embraces economic, social and cultural rights;
  2. as well as processes that guarantee the effective implementation of these constitutional rights including the tools that enable different social groups to own the Constitution and make it a living document that allow them to protect their rights. 

Specific Objectives

This Regional Consultation aims at:

  • Articulating an understanding of the Constitutional process as a process of negotiation between national groups with different interests.;
  • Examining international experiences of inclusion of economic, social and cultural rights within the constitutional process in order to better understand the mechanisms and frames applied in constitutional processs that succeeded;
  • Reaching a common understanding around the best ways to include economic, social and cultural rights in constitutions in a way that contributes to its realization and enforcement benefiting from successful and best practices from other countries;
  • Presenting Arab and International experiences where social powers, especially syndicates and human right groups succeeded to use the Constitution to protect the economic, social and cultural rights;
  • Creating a network and exchanging experiences between civil society organizations involved in advocacy for protection of economic and social rights in constitutions in the Arab States, and strengthening their capacity to advocate for social justice by using constitutional and  judicial mechanisms;
  • Facilitating exchange of experience between constitutional drafters in the region and facilitate South-South exchange.

Participants

Participants in the regional consultation will include representatives from several Arab States, particularly:

  • Relevant civil society organizations and NHRIs involved in constitutional making process during time of transition;
  •  ivil society organizations involved in advocacy for social and economic rights or in Strategic Litigation;
  • Key actors from the four countries involved in the Constitutional making process or in a position to act as opinion maker;
  • Relevant experts from the region, South Africa/Kenya, Latin America and Asia;
  • Constitutional judges and experts from various countries in the Arab region;
  • UNDP Country Offices

Partners

The regional consultation is organized by the UNDP Regional Centre in Cairo in collaboration with the Arab Institute for Human Rights, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights, The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, New Woman Foundation, Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, and Tadamon-The Cairo Urban Solidarity Initiative.