Greetings from the Center

David Williams
David Williams
At the IU Maurer School of Law Center for Constitutional Democracy, the 2013-14 academic year was all about synergy. What really makes us unique in the world is the interrelationship between education, research, and advising that takes place here - the synchronicity between them. Many centers research, but they don't advise. Many government agencies advise, but they don't educate. We believe that each of these components is necessary to the meaningful fruition of the others. All add up to make a greater whole.

Eight students now study constitutional design in the Law and
Susan Williams
Democracy PhD program. Two students are getting ready to defend their dissertations, and we have admitted three more students for fall 2014. Their long-term goals vary from nonprofit work to teaching and research, but we expect that most of them will be constitutional reformers, further disseminating the seeds of this work out in the world.  

Constitutional design is an emerging field. Materials for many of the courses we would like to teach have never been developed; we are starting from the ground up. Early this year, Susan began collecting materials for a course on constitutional process, and this spring we held a conference on constitutionalism and development, where economists, anthropologists, political scientists, and law scholars came together to discuss readings and ways of teaching this subject. Not only does this research ensure that our students get the most thorough and cutting-edge education; it also guarantees that we can provide innovative and reliable solutions to the democratic reformers who ask us for help.

As you'll read in this newsletter, our Kurdistan and Saudi Arabia programs have taken off, and our Burma and Liberia programs are yielding significant results. None of this could have been accomplished without synergy - not only within the Center but between us and our international partners. Together, we can truly do great things. We are grateful for your support.

As always, we welcome your comments. Please contact us at, and visit our website:

David C. Williams            
John S. Hastings Professor of Law
CCD Executive Director

Susan H. Williams
Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law
CCD Director


Liberian constitutional amendments nearing completion  

In March David and Susan Williams traveled to Liberia with CCD Affiliates Aaron Bonar, JD'13, and Mahja Zeon, JD'14. They spent a week meeting with Liberia's Law Reform Commission and drafting a series of proposed amendments to Liberia's constitution.  These amendments will be presented to the Liberian legislature later this spring.

The experience was particularly meaningful for Zeon, who is a native of Liberia. "What I learned most from my work with the constitutional drafting committee was the importance of an open discussion," she said. "To ensure that the constitutional amendments would serve the citizens of Liberia, we spent a lot of time discussing the issues facing Liberia and its citizens; the values, needs, and wants of Liberian citizens; and the implications of each proposed amendment.

"All too often, international consultants try to assist with the constitutional process without speaking to the citizens who will be affected," Zeon continued. "Without in-depth, open discussions, the final proposal would not adequately embody a living document, one equipped with the ability to adapt to the changes of a diverse country."
The Center met with Liberia's Law Reform Commission in March to work on amendments to the constitution.

Center leaders plan initial visit to Kurdistan  

Professor David Williams has announced plans to lead a team of CCD experts to Kurdistan in the fall of 2014 to meet with all political parties and civil society organizations in the region. In fall 2013, representatives of two political parties approached Williams with a request to help draft proposed amendments to Kurdistan's 2005 constitution, as well as a memo outlining a process for getting the constitution through a referendum.

Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was reconfirmed as autonomous within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005, with its own local government and parliament. The democratically elected Kurdistan Regional Government exercises executive power according to the Kurdistan Region's laws, as enacted by the Kurdistan parliament. For almost nine years, the Kurds have been seeking to establish a regional constitution. Political differences between the ruling parties prevented the draft constitution from being put to a referendum after the draft was approved by the regional parliament in 2009.  

A reformist group known as the Goran Movement emerged in 2009 to oppose the ruling two-party coalition of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which controls the Kurdistan Regional Government. Goran calls for an end to monopolistic control of power, de-politicizing of the regional government, strengthening of the judiciary, and dispute resolution through constitutional means. Goran has quickly become highly influential by winning a large number of seats in the last two parliamentary elections.
Center expands to Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia is currently in crisis, with an aging and infirm king, an equally infirm crown prince, and political infighting about who will
Abdulaziz Al Hussan
succeed them, as they are the last of their generation. Potential successors of the next generation of Saudi princes include a mix of traditionalists and progressives, and, therefore, if there were ever a time to introduce reform, it is now when power is in question.

The CCD's Saudi Arabia program started in fall 2013 when well-known Saudi human rights advocate Abdulaziz Al Hussan fled Saudi Arabia under threat of persecution and came to the CCD as a visiting scholar. The Saudi Arabia team at the CCD is now studying means of supporting constitutional reforms within the kingdom with capacity-building projects and drafting assistance.
Recent work by Center leadership

David Williams will soon publish a book chapter entitled "A Second Panglong Agreement: Burmese Federalism for the Twenty-First Century" in a forthcoming University Press book on Constitutionalism in Burma. He also published "Critiquing the Burmese Constitution: A Guide for the Perplexed" in Law, Society, and Transition in Myanmar, published by Hart in 2014.

Susan Williams was awarded the Tracy M. Sonneborn Award by the Indiana University Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. The award recognizes faculty who combine excellence in research and teaching, and for their enormous contributions to their fields. It is given to "an exemplary researcher who is also well known as an exemplary teacher."
June 2014
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We tell our story
Above all else, the CCD's story is a human story -- we help nations make positive changes using principles of good constitutional design. Watch this video and find out how:

Center of Constitutional Democracy brief
CCD drafting guiding principles for S. Sudan
In December 2013, South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar staged a coup against Salva Kiir's SPLM government. The violence spread into a full-scale conflict with reports of ethnic killing, and a ceasefire agreement was signed in January 2014. That same month, in an attempt to prevent the fragile ceasefire from breaking and take steps to appease all of South Sudan's conflicting parties, CCD personnel were asked by government officials in South Sudan to produce a memo of guiding principles for the ceasefire and constitutional reform process.

The memo was drafted in February and contains an explanation of why the present conflict has constitutional roots, guidelines for the creation of an interim government, guidelines for resource management in the interim period, and guidelines for a constitutional reform process during the interim period.
IU approves dual majors in law and democracy, near-eastern languages and cultures
This spring the Center received approval from Indiana University for a dual major law and democracy/near-eastern languages and cultures (NELC) PhD program. NELC offers a comprehensive program in the study of the pre-modern and modern Middle East through several disciplinary lenses, with an emphasis on the acquisition of the relevant languages and cultural study. But law and democracy has emerged in recent years as a critical issue in the Middle East and the Islamic world, and NELC does not currently emphasize these fields. Incorporation of these topics will add considerable strength and breadth to the program. 

Similarly, while the Center for Constitutional Democracy stresses fieldwork in relevant overseas locations and interaction with foreign reform leaders, the Middle East is only one area of current focus. NELC can provide CCD students who wish to work on Middle Eastern issues with the relevant historical and cultural knowledge, as well as with the critical language skills necessary for advanced research.

Combination of these complementary programmatic foci and strengths will significantly enhance the scope of both NELC and the CCD.
CCD Spring 2014 seminars
February 13: "Constitution-
making in Anglophone Africa" Christina Murray, University of Cape Town, South Africa (co-sponsored by African Studies)

February 27: "The Blues Brothers and the American Constitutional Protection of Hate Speech: Teaching the Meaning of the First Amendment to Foreign Audiences" Julien Mailland, Telecommunications, Indiana University

April 3: "New rules, old rules and the gender equality architecture of the UN - the creation of UN Women" Fiona MacKay, University of Edinburgh (co-sponsored by Political Science)
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