Tunisian Legislators Just Did What Most Countries Only Dream Of; And It Will Give You Hope

Posted on February 23, 2014 in GlobeScope

By Anshul Tewari:

Tunisia Constitution

On 26th of January, when India celebrated its Republic Day, Tunisia passed a truly historic constitution widely heralded as a progressive and monumental document. Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring began, set an example for the entire Middle East and the world, specially ailing countries like Egypt and Libya.

French President Francois Hollande, the only European head of state attending the ceremony, hailed it as an example for other countries, the AFP news agency reported. “The constitution honours your revolution and is an example for other countries to follow,” he told the packed chamber, including the premiers of Algeria and Kuwait, and the presidents of Chad, Gabon, Guinea and Mauritania.

Here are some highlights of what these brave elected representatives agreed upon in the face of strong pressure from the more extreme factions of their parties:

Approved 3 years after the uprising that launched the Arab Spring.

  • Guarantees freedom of worship but says Islam is the state religion
  • Splits executive power between a president and a prime minister
  • Prime minister has dominant role and answers to parliament
  • President is elected by the people and responsible for defense and foreign relations
  • Recognizes gender equality: Guaranteed equality between men and women
  • Guarantees right of free expression and association, and a free press
  • A constitutional mandate for environmental protection, only the third country in the world to do so
  • A declaration that health care is a human right, with preventative care and treatment for every citizen
  • An established right to due process and protection from torture

The constitution has been termed better than the US constitution in many ways, specially in this article by ThinkProgress which talks about the 4 parameters of climate change, health care, women rights and workers’ rights.

OPINION: While this is a true victory for human rights, and sets an example for the entire Arab world, the fight for implementation begins now. The bravery of the Tunisian Legislators needs to be applauded. People around the world, living in conditions of violent dictatorship and struggling for freedom will look up to Tunisia. One can only hope that Tunisia holds true to the promises made in this revolutionary document!