Greetings from the Center

Conventional wisdom seems to associate mature organizations with autonomy. Organizational autonomy facilitates quick decisions, increases resource efficiency, reduces bureaucracy, and allows for complete control over an organization's reputation, among many other things. But, as we ready ourselves to enter our ninth academic year as a center, we find that our ties to other institutions within and outside of Indiana University are more important than ever. We could not do this work without our partners.


David Williams

Despite enduring myths about "best practices" in this field, good constitutional design is never achieved by a group of experts going into a country and telling them how to write their constitution. Constitutional design is always a partnership, developed over years, sometimes decades, of collaboration between the designer and the country's citizens. There is no one right way to write a constitution. Indeed, the best constitutions provide for the unique historical, cultural, and sociopolitical situation of the country.


This is one reason why the CCD relies so heavily on other departments within Indiana University. Constitutional design is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating aspects of Law, Anthropology, Political Science, Economics, Public Affairs, and Area Studies. Our students, as well as our overseas partners, benefit from the great wealth of expertise available at IU in these areas. We are fortunate to be housed within an institution that draws such talent.


Susan Williams
Likewise, as the Center grows and evolves, we continue to build partnerships with other nonprofit and governmental organizations. We traveled to Washington D.C. in May 2015 to meet with many such groups, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Human Rights Watch, the National Endowment for Democracy, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, the Turkic American Alliance, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the Democracy Fund, Foreign Policy Initiative, and the United States Institute of Peace. These organizations and others like them are doing work that dovetails closely with ours and, as such, offers many logical points for collaboration. They are also obvious possibilities for placement of students who graduate from our program.


As we continue to increase and enhance the scholarship, research, advising, and education components of our work, we look forward to building more relationships at IU and around the world. You are integral to our organization and we thank you 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


Burma update
A delegation of Center staff and JD students went to Thailand and Burma in March 2015 for a series of meetings organized by the Ethnic Nationalities Affairs Center (ENAC). The workshops, which were attended by leaders of political parties and civil society organizations, addressed the priorities for constitutional reform in Burma.  


Professors David and Susan Williams conducted two days of training seminars, and then students Alexander Avtgis, James O'Hollearn, and Brittany Shelmon led "train the trainers" sessions for instructors who later went into Burma's ethnic states to educate others in advance of peace talks that will take place between Burma's central government and ethnic minorities. A portion of this travel was paid for with a grant from the Indiana University Women's Philanthropy Council, as well as support from ENAC and our generous private donors.


Prof. David Williams (second from left) in Burma.

Of the experience, Managing Affiliate James O'Hollearn said "I spoke to people who are putting themselves at great risk to help bring fair rule of law to the country. Khun Miyan Thun, who spent 7 years in solitary confinement for advocating for a more democratic society. Vijiyar, a young college student intern who told me she wanted to be the first female president of Myanmar. I heard from a young woman who was organizing lawyers who are fighting for accountability for military officials who have committed sex crimes."  


Affiliate Brittany Shelmon added "the experience of using our legal knowledge as well as our understanding of the conflict to give practical suggestions that would dramatically improve the lives of the people of Burma showed me what this path of study has in store for my future." Following the meetings, Professor David Williams advised our partners on a provision which now appears in Burma's draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.


Prof. Susan Williams leading a training seminar.

Professors David and Susan Williams returned to Thailand and Burma in June 2015 to conduct additional workshops and meetings. They presented issues relating to federalism, resource sharing, gender equality, and other constitutional issues to political leaders in Karenni State and to leaders of women's organizations in Yangon. They also met with leaders of the Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) to present a memo outlining options for the ethnic resistance armies after peace. David Williams was the only outsider present at the EAO Summit, June 5 and 6, and was asked to speak from the floor about the preservation and archiving of records.  


Professor Williams also advised the EAO leadership council on a variety of topics, including constitutional change outside the parliamentary process. He later traveled to Myitkyina and met with civil society leaders and religious leaders, to discuss reform and build inclusive public participation into the political dialogue.  


Center personnel will return to Burma in October.


Why Pakistan needs Constitutional reform    
By CCD PhD Fellow Muhammad Zubair  


Muhammad Zubair
Pakistan can rightly be called the laboratory of constitutional experimentation. It has seen three regular constitutions (1956, 1962 and the present 1973) and numerous interim constitutional orders in its sixty-eight-year life. However, rarely have the people of Pakistan participated directly in the constitution making process. It has rather remained the exclusive domain of civil, military and political elites and reflected their mutual bargain. This is one reason why constitutionalism has historically suffered from a lack of democratic legitimacy and also failed so far to bring political and institutional stability.

Among other issues, tensions between diversity and unity, and federalism and unitarism have marked the constitutional history of Pakistan. Unfortunately, these issues remain largely unresolved and continue to be the source of instability. Though too late and too little, the 18th Amendment (2010) to the constitution, made possible by a democratically elected government, was the first step in the right direction, devolving substantial powers from the federal government to the provinces.

However, it has not, for example, convinced the Baloch separatists to abandon their armed struggle and join the political process. Moreover, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and Gilgit Baltistan still remain outside the constitutional ambit and their people neither have nor enjoy the protection of fundamental rights. These areas remain part of the territory of Pakistan and under the de facto control of the federal government but are neither independent provinces nor parts of the existing provinces.

Urgent constitutional reforms are needed in order to strike a reasonable and acceptable balance between the power of the federal government and the autonomy of the federating units on the one hand, and bring the areas mentioned above into mainstream Pakistan on the other, so that they will enjoy the constitutional protection of their fundamental rights.
Center banquet honors '15 grads

On April 25, 2015 we hosted our first annual banquet to honor this year's graduating class of JD affiliates.  
Burmese parliamentarians visit Bloomington


On May 4 the Center welcomed a delegation of Burma parliamentarians for a discussion on electoral law, federalism, and other constitutional issues facing the country.

CCD in the news 

2/4/2015 CCD Associate Director Feisal Istrabadi says: Murder of Jordanian pilot will backfire on ISIS


3/6/2015 Death of American Ally a Potential Nail in Iraq's Coffin: CCD PhD Fellow Col. Rick Welch on the death of influential Sunni leader Sheikh Qassem al-Janabi 


3/10/2015 U.S. Sued by its Iraqi Helpers: CCD PhD Fellow Col. Rick Welch talks to the Wall Street Journal 


3/31/2015 People's Court? The Palestinian Authority Joins the ICC: an article for Foreign Affairs by CCD Associate Director Timothy William Waters  


4/9/2015 Risking Their Lives for Justice - Four Stories of Courage at the Center for Constitutional Democracy  


4/15/2015 "The Mission is Not Accomplished": David Williams on the Future of Burma 


5/3/2015 Drone strikes raise specter of lives we grieve and lives we don't: an op-ed for San Francisco Chronicle by CCD PhD Fellow Sikander Shah 


5/18/2015 Losing Ramadi to ISIL again and what it means for the US and IraqCCD Associate Director Feisal Istrabadi discusses the fall of Anbar's capital to ISIL forces  

July 2015
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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
Liberia update


In March 2015 Liberia hosted a four-day long National Constitutional Review Conference, to solicit suggestions from the public for possible amendments to Liberia's constitution. Among the issues raised were equal representation for women, natural resource rights, and limits to the powers of the president. Liberia's Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), in collaboration with the Law Reform Commission (LRC), collected all the data from these sessions and are now in the process of drafting proposed amendments based on the public's recommendations. Professors David and Susan Williams have conducted a series of meetings with LRC personnel to provide assistance during the drafting process. The proposed amendments will be sent to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and then to the Liberian legislature for approval, before going to public referendum next year.

CCD spring 2015 seminar schedule

January 29: "'I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man': How Neoliberal Logics Transform the Classic Liberal Self" Ilana Gershon, IU Communication and Culture


February 12: "The Arab Spring: Pathways of Repression and Reform" Andrew Reynolds, Political Science, UNC Chapel Hill


February 19: "Participation and Corruption" Yasmin Dawood, University of Toronto Law


February 26: "Negotiating in Civil Conflict: Constitutional Construction and Imperfect Bargaining in Iraq" Haider Ala Hamoudi, University of Pittsburgh Law


April 2: "The Resource Curse" Michael Alexeev, IU Economics

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