Statement by the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative at the “Participation and Consensus Building in the Constitution-Making Process: Learning from International Experience” workshop

21 Feb 2012

Mr. Hatem El Kadi, Chairman, Information and Decision Support Center

Dr. Sahar El Tawila, Director, Social Contract Center

Distinguished Members of Parliament

Excellences

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is with great pleasure that I address this important event, which aims to share experiences to support Egypt during its upcoming constitution-drafting process. I would like to thank the Government’s Information Decision Support Centre (IDSC) and its Social Contract Center (SCC), which is supported by the Government of Italy and the UN Development Programme, for hosting this workshop.

Drafting a new Egyptian constitution is a nationally-owned process, undertaken as a grave responsibility by a Constituent Assembly with the goal of enshrining the rights and responsibilities for all Egyptian citizens, and the relationship between the citizen and the state, for many generations to come.  

As an Egyptian process, it is important that the broad interests of all segments of Egyptian society are represented in the drafting of the new constitution.  An inclusive and open process is vital to ensure that when the new draft is put to a referendum, the people of Egypt feel that they have been sufficiently informed and that their interests, and those of their children, have been represented.  The proposed local and national dialogue to be organized by the IDSC and the SCC constitute an important contribution towards achieving these goals.  

A constitution that has been forged by such an inclusive and open process, and endorsed by the people, can then act as the foundation for Egypt’s transition to greater democracy, unity, prosperity and respect for the human rights of all Egyptians.  Moreover, the new constitution offers Egypt the opportunity to enshrine those values and strengths that shape Egypt’s unique national character, and allows it to address the formidable challenges that it faces.  

Today’s workshop will allow us to become familiar with experiences from other countries on how they managed their constitution-drafting processes during their transitions towards greater democracy, including how these countries met the challenge of representing all stakeholders in society, including minorities, marginalized communities, and youth.

The United Nations stands ready to mobilize technical expertise to support Egypt in its drafting of a new constitution by sharing international best practices.  Experiences from other countries can expand the options available to the Constituent Assembly. In this regard, I am pleased that we will be hearing the views of two renowned constitutional experts, namely Dr. Jill Cottrell and Professor Yash Ghai.  

The Secretary-General has stressed the United Nations’ commitment to support Egypt’s transition to greater democracy. Drafting a new constitution is an important part of that transition.  The United Nations will continue to provide whatever support we can to contribute to the success of this historic opportunity.

Thank you.

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