Greetings from the Center

David Williams
David Williams

There are so many great causes in the world. As the CCD ramps up our development efforts, we find ourselves faced with the question: why should I care about constitutional design? The answer is simple: because constitutional design addresses the systemic issues that keep whole communities and nations impoverished and in conflict.


Without a reliable and effective government in place, one simultaneously empowered and regulated by the presence of a strong, enforceable constitution committed to democratic values, there can be no enduring positive change in developing and conflict-torn nations.


Susan Williams 

The CCD's efforts toward constitutional reform address the issues that perpetuate cyclical problems of poverty, ethnic and religious conflict, and political and/or military upheaval. These issues include the shocking scarcity of women in key decision-making roles during the constitutional design process, the lack of training resources available to help women take on such roles, and the failure to implement constitutional mechanisms that ensure governmental accountability and foster bipartisan governance. Nations and communities that value and promote the rights of women and disenfranchised minority groups, that appreciate the value in enforcing a system of checks and balances, and that perceive constitutions as important cultural tools in the promotion and longevity of democratic practices - these are the ones most likely to achieve long-term economic, political, and social stability.


The multi-faceted, interdisciplinary work that the CCD does is always in service of this larger goal.


We are grateful for your support.


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

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


David Williams conducts Burma workshops with Skype
David Williams conducted a workshop on Burma via Skype
Unexpected illness forced David Williams and James O'Hollearn to postpone their October Burma trip to March 2015. But that didn't stop David. Instead, he ran the previously scheduled workshops via late-night Skype sessions, attended by Burmese ethnic army personnel, as well as members of political organizations and civil society groups. The workshops covered issues related to Burmese federalism and peace negotiations. Attendees were disappointed that Professor Williams could not be there in person, but said they still got a lot out of the workshops.


A Report on South Sudan from CCD PhD Fellow Jonathan Henriques   

CCD has provided advisory support to elements within the government in South Sudan on the constitution, and most recently to civil society groups on various aspects of the ongoing peace negotiations. In December 2013 fighting erupted in Juba between factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, and quickly spread to strategic locations around state capitals and oil installations in Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal. While the fighting can be attributed to long-standing fissures within the Sudan People's Liberation Movement leadership, the violence quickly took an ethnic turn, exposing latent tensions between the two largest ethnic groups, the Nuer and Dinka. This dimension of the conflict has been characterized by widespread ethnically targeted attacks and mobilization along ethnic lines in a vicious cycle of revenge killings.  


As humanitarian conditions rapidly deteriorated in the first weeks of the conflict, Intergovernmental Authority on Development initiated peace negotiations in January 2014 between the two warring parties. To date, however, the peace talks have achieved limited progress toward reaching a viable negotiated settlement, despite several high profile summits between Kiir and Machar and economic sanctions against military leaders on both sides. The absence of a military stalemate, or other significant pressures, undoubtedly has stalled progress in the peace talks. However, there are also fundamental disputes between the two parties over key constitutional questions related to executive power and federalism, among others.  


While South Sudanese have been debating these issues in many ways since negotiated peace with Sudan, the failure to sufficiently address them in their constitution has contributed to the new state's instability and insecurity since independence. Indeed, the degree to which South Sudan's leaders can resolve these constitutional questions at this critical juncture will directly affect the prospect of long-term peace in South Sudan.


Zulfia Abawe and Valentina Luketa Join the CCD

Zulfia Abawe 
Zulfia Abawe has lived, studied and worked in diverse environments from Asia to Europe. She holds a master's degree in public policy from
the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Germany. She has an LLM in international human rights law from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. Abawe has participated in International Youth Leadership Conferences in Czech Republic and New York. With a passion in human rights and public policy, Abawe has worked as the national governance specialist with the First Vice Presidency Office in Afghanistan. She also worked with the Linda Norgrove
Foundation in Scotland for two months as a development intern with a focus on women's human rights. She has further engaged in promoting gender equality through conducting research and working as the gender equality campaign intern with the United Nations Association-Wales.
Valentina Luketa

Valentina Luketa has three years of experience in the nonprofit sector, and earned her BA in international relations and diplomacy from Schiller International University, in Germany, and her MA in international human rights law from American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt. Luketa has spent the past three years in Egypt, where she actively participated in various legal campaigns promoting women's rights in post-revolutionary Egypt on the grassroots level, working for organizations such as the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, IFES, and the German Development



Luketa wrote a number of reports assessing women's legal status in Egyptian family law, women's political participation, and feminist perspectives specifically relevant to Egypt and the Middle East. Furthermore, she developed a project titled "Women in the Constitution," aimed at ensuring the presence of a gender perspective in the process of writing a new Egyptian constitution. As a university fellowship fellow at AUC, Luketa conducted comprehensive research on gender-based constitutional design with a focus on the unique circumstances in the Middle Eastern region, in particular the relationship between religious and gender rights within the constitutional framework. Luketa's research interests include gender-based constitutional design, feminist legal critique, and Islamic jurisprudence.


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 delivered the Sonneborn Lecture on December 1
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 on December 1. 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."

Tim Waters published "The Undignified Part of Constitutional Analysis," in the European Constitutional Law Review; an op-ed entitled "How to Handle Secession: What Spain Can Learn From Scotland's Referendum" in the New York Times; "The Kurdish Option: An Independent State for the Kurds, an Ally for the U.S. in Iraq," in the Los Angeles Times; and a three-part series on Ukraine and international law for Volkerrechtsblog. He also presented:
  • "Power and Ideals in Self-Determination Crises: Various Ways of Failing inside Ukraine and out." 10th Annual Danyliw Research Seminar on Contemporary Ukraine, University of Ottawa, 1 Nov. 2014.

  • "The Value of Not Seceding: Lessons of the Scottish Independence Referendum." Center for Constitutional Democracy, Indiana University, 16 Oct. 2014.

  • "For Freedom Alone: Secession, Now that Scotland's Staying." University of Missouri - Kansas City, 3 Oct. 2014.

  • "Narratives of Responsibility and Reconciliation: The Trial of Slobodan Milosević." University of Missouri - Kansas City, 2 Oct. 2014.

  • "Remembering Yugoslavia the Good: A War Crimes Tribunal's Narrative of Moral Transit through Violence." Jan Karski Conference: Memory and Responsibility, Loyola University Chicago, 19 Sept. 2014.

  • "Hidden Legitimacy: Crafting Judicial Authority in the Shadow of Secrecy at a War Crimes Tribunal." Authority in International Law: New and Traditional Forms and Approaches, ASIL-ESIL-MPIL Workshop, Wirtschaftsuniversität, Vienna, 8 Sept. 2014.

  • "Hidden Legitimacy: Writing Judicial Narratives in the Shadow of Secrecy at a War Crimes Tribunal." The Legitimacy and Effectiveness of International Criminal Tribunals, PluriCourts, University of Oslo, 28 Aug. 2014.

  • "Roads High and Low: Paths to, and from, Scottish Secession." Faculty Workshop Series, Indiana University 20 Aug. 2014.

Feisal Istrabadi published "The Limits of Legality: Assessing Recent International Interventions in Civil Conflicts in the Middle East," 29 MD. J. INT'L L. ___ (2014) (in print); "A City of Two Tales," 68 MIDDLE EAST J. 633 (2014); "Sectarian Visions of the Iraqi State: Irreconcilable Differences?," in SOCIAL DIFFERENCE AND CONSTITUTIONALISM IN PAN-ASIA (Susan H. Williams ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2014); "India and the State of Palestine" (with Sumit Ganguly), THE ASIAN AGE (India), Nov. 3, 2014, and THE DECCAN CHRONICLE (India), Nov. 3, 2014.

Professor Istrabadi presented: 

  • "Politics and Stagnation in Iraq" a presentation at the Wilson Center, Washington, D.C.
  • "Conflict and Resolution in the Middle East: Iran and Israel/Palestine" a panel at a symposium, Engaging Adversaries in Theory and Practice, ANU-IU Pan Asia Institute, Bloomington.
  • "Summer of Discontent: Does a Viable Iraq Exist in 2014", a lecture at Australian National University Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, Canberra.

He also served for three weeks as IU's first distinguished visiting scholar at the Australian National University-Indiana University Pan Asia Institute, hosted by the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies in Canberra. Prof. Istrabadi conducted a workshop for PhD students there and gave a public lecture. While there, he met with the Iraq teams in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Defence. Prof. Istrabadi also appeared in some two dozen interviews nationally and internationally, principally on satellite news channels, during the summer regarding the ISIL threat.  

December 2014
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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
Women's Political Representation in Yemen

Earlier this year, Dr. Antelak Al-Mutawakel, of the Yemeni Constitution Drafting Committee, asked the CCD to write a report for the committee on constitutional mechanisms for assuring political representation for women and guaranteeing their equal citizenship in Yemen. The report provided background on why constitutional language is necessary to address this issue, and offered examples of such language from other constitutions. It also highlighted some of the central drafting issues in creating a workable and effective mechanism for assuring women's political representation. It suggested an effective division between the aspects of the mechanism that should go into a constitution and those that would need to go into statutes and regulations.   


Dr. Jallah Barbu accepts post-doctoral fellowship at CCD

Liberian Law Reform Commission Chairman and Maurer alumnus Jallah Barbu returned to Bloomington to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship with the CCD. His research project, a revision of the Commentary on the Meaning of the Liberian Constitution, will update his original Treatise with all Liberian Supreme Court opinions since 2008. Dr. Barbu also plans to write a policy paper on public participation processes in constitutional reform in Africa, and to conduct a study on codifying Liberian customary law. Dr. Barbu will lead a research team of CCD JD affiliates, who will assist with this research.


Law and Democracy's First Two PhD Students Graduate 
Tim Waters, Susan Williams, Nadejda Mazur, and David Williams

2014 was a milestone for the Law and Democracy PhD program. Our first two students, Nadejda Mazur and Huong Nguyen, successfully defended their dissertations and graduated this year. Nadejda's dissertation, on "The Visible Effects of an Invisible Constitution: The Contested State of Transdniestria's Search for Recognition Through International Negotiations" was defended on Thursday May 8. Nadejda left the CCD for a conflict resolution internship with the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. Huong's dissertation, on "Anticipating Constitutional Politics: Designing a Constitutional Review Mechanism for Transitional Vietnam" was defended on Monday August 11. Huong recently left the CCD for a position with UN Women. 

Huong Nguyen, center, successfully defended her dissertation
CCD Fall 2014 Seminar Schedule
August 28: "Citizens United, Citizens Divided," Carol Greenhouse, Anthropology, Princeton University

September 11: "United Nations Constitutional Support," Jason Gluck, United Nations

September 18: "Prospects for Reform in Saudi Arabia," Karen Elliott House (Pulitzer Prize Winner, former Managing Editor, Wall Street Journal)

October 2: "Networking for Government Jobs," Jack Bobo, U.S. Department of State

October 16: "The Value of Not Seceding: Lessons of the Scottish Independence Referendum," Tim Waters, IU Maurer School of Law

October 23: "The Tragedy of the Rule of Law in Sudan," Mark Massoud, Politics and Legal Studies, UC Santa Cruz

October 30: "Institutional Design and Executive Decree Authority," Armando Razo, IU Political Science

November 13: "War and Social Suffering: Ukraine Today," Sarah Phillips, IU Anthropology

November 20: "The Impact of the Constitution on African Customary Law in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Recognition, Reform and     Contradictions," Chuma Himonga, University of Cape Town Law  

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