Constitutionalism and Human Rights: Assessing the Islamist-led democratic transition in Tunisia

> Click here for the Summary Report of the Conference

> Follow the links below for the audio and video recordings of the conference:                                                                             

Part 1 – Audio:  

– Video:                                                                                                   

Part 2 – Audio:   

– Video:

   *   *   * 

– March 5th, 2013   –   9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

A Conference Organized by

 The Maghreb Center

Co-sponsored by The Johns Hopkins University-SAIS, the International Council for Middle East Studies, and the National Council on US-Arab Relations

Assessing the islamist-led-democratic-transition in the birthplace of the

“Arab Spring” 


Tunisia, where the “Arab Spring” began, was the first country to elect an Islamist-majority transitional parliament, which appointed an interim Islamist-dominated government. Since then, Tunisia has faced a bumpy road on the transition to democracy, with increased polarization between islamists and non-islamists, and a heightening of political tensions amid exacerbated economic problems and unemployment. The situation culminated recently in the murder of a popular secular opposition leader, Chokri Belaid—the first political assassination since the country’s independence in 1956—and the resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali. The conference brings together leading American and Tunisian experts, activists and scholars to debate the main developments in the Islamist-led transition in Tunisia. Key topics will include drafting a new constitution, human rights, women’s rights, freedom of the press and meeting economic demands.


The Johns Hopkins University, The School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) The Kenney Auditorium, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW 20036, Washington, DC

 9:00-9:30 AM:             Breakfast and Registration

 9:30-10:30 AM:

Welcome and introduction:

Nejib Ayachi, President, The Maghreb Center, Washington DC

Opening remarks:

-Dr. Mohamed Mattar, Executive Director, The Protection Project at The Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Washington DC

-Dr. Issam Saliba, Secretary, Int’l Council for Middle Eastern Studies, Washington DC

-Dr. John Duke Anthony, Pres., National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Washington DC


Session 1:  10:30AM – 12:30PM

The Post Revolution Political and Constitutional Transitions

Moderator: Dr. I. William Zartman, Jacob Blaustein Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University.


Overview of the transitional process in Tunisia since the revolution

Ms. Alexis Arieff, Analyst, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Washington DC


The role of the Ennahda Islamist party and of the Salafi movement in the transition

Dr. Alaya Allani, Professor of History, Manouba University, Tunis


The constitutional drafting process and the challenges to a democratic transition in Tunisia

Dr. Ghazi Gherairi, Law Professor, University of Tunis, Tunis; Secretary General, The International Academy for Constitutional Law (AIDC), Tunis


The economic demands of the Tunisian revolution

Dr. Ahmed El Hamri, Development Economist, Academia; Consultant, The World Bank


 – Questions and Answers (Q&A)


12:30-1:30 PM:            Lunch


01:30-3:30 PM:           Session 2:

The future of Human Rights, Women Rights, and Freedom of Expression in Tunisia


Human Rights, Democratic Transition, and the New Constitution

Mr. Eric Goldstein, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch


–  Freedom of the Press in the New Tunisia under the Islamist-dominated government

Ms. Naziha Réjiba, Journalist; Human rights activist; 2009 Recipient of the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists.


Islamists and Women’s Rights: the need for vigilance

Dr. Nancy Okail, The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, Washington DC.


Questions and Answers (Q&A)


3:30pm – 3:45pm      Concluding remarks

– Islamist in power and democratic transition: Can Tunisia be considered an example for other “Arab Spring” countries?

Nejib Ayachi, President, The Maghreb Center, Washington DC