On December 11, 2013, the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a discussion of Egypt’s draft constitution with Nathan Brown of George Washington University and Sahar Aziz of Texas A&M University School of Law. The Hariri Center’s Deputy Director for Regional Programs Mirette F. Mabrouk moderated the discussion.
Brown highlighted differences between the 2013 draft constitution and its 2012 predecessor, noting that state institutions and the judiciary managed to carve out significant gains in the latest version. However, he noted that the way in which the constitution is interpreted and used may change over time, and suggested that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood may find that they can work within the constraints of the new charter. Aziz highlighted key changes in the new draft constitution, both positive and negative, and voiced concern as to whether new proclamations of freedoms and rights will be granted in practice. She criticized the new protest law and noted the troubling clauses that sanction military trials for civilians, underscoring that such trials will likely continue to increase. However, Aziz applauded the restriction of presidential authority to declare a state of emergency as the most promising aspect of the new draft constitution.