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Egyptian constitutional reform and the fight against corruption

Zaid Al-Ali and Michael Dafel

Paper number 1 in Consolidating the Arab Spring: Constitutional Transition in Egypt and Tunisia, Edited by Zaid Al-Ali and Richard Stacey, International IDEA and the Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law (2013).

This paper addresses the question of how a constitutional text can contribute to a commitment to prevent and eliminate corruption.  It was originally prepared as part of the Egyptian Constitutional Drafting Manual presented to members of the Egyptian Constitutional Assembly during 2012.  Its purpose, in that context, was to provide members of the Constitutional Assembly with an overview of the deficiencies of the 1971 Egyptian Constitution in establishing an anti-corruption framework.  The paper has since evolved, as the Constitutional Assembly completed its work in November 2012 and the new Constitution for the Arab Republic of Egypt went into force in December 2012.  The paper’s focus is now an investigation of the strengths and weaknesses of the 2012 Constitution, as compared to both the 1971 Constitution and Egypt’s experience under it, and international constitutional trends in the fight against corruption.  The paper draws its comparative examples from the Middle East, Africa, and India.  It offers an initial assessment of the 2012 Constitution by detailing the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches reflected in these international examples, the 1971 Constitution, and the 2012 Constitution.  In particular, the paper focuses on (i) state budget procedures, (ii) the public procurement system, (iii) the legislature’s oversight of the executive and oversight of the legislature itself, (iv) the Supreme Audit Institution, (v) the independence of the judiciary, (vi) the independence of the prosecuting authorities, (vii) an anti-corruption ombudsman, and (viii) human rights and corruption.

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