April 21, 2015
January 2014 became a milestone of Arab democracy when Tunisia adopted the first democratic Arab constitution drafted outside the influence of the military or a foreign power. In "Tunisia's New Constitutional Court," Duncan Pickard, a Nonresident Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, takes up the next step for the country's democracy: developing a functioning Constitutional Court. He introduces the court's structures, outlines the various challenges that the new parliament will face in drafting a law to officially establish the court, and details policy options for the United States and Europe to support Tunisia's nascent democracy.

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The Constitutional Court, which was largely an executive tool under the former regime of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, now rules on the "constitutionality" of draft laws and is designed to be an effective guarantor of human rights, the balance of power, and constitutional supremacy. However, Pickard argues that despite this heavy burden on the court, the constitution leaves many of the court's competencies vague and open to interpretation. To help the Tunisian legislature clarify these areas and ground itself as a democracy, the author recommends that the international community lend assistance through financial support, legal education, and mentorship.