In 2020, the Centre for Constitutional Studies (CCS) based at an-Najah National University, included ConTransNet as one of its partners in a local project implemented in Palestine which aims to build a stronger constitutional culture amongst key stakeholders in Palestine, in the context of the ongoing constitution-making process that has been underway since 2016. The video below describes the thrust of the CCS work programme.
Support to judges of the Palestine Constitutional Court
In September 2020, the ConTransNet team partnered with CCS when they hosted two experts’ session with members of the Palestinian Constitutional Court. The sessions were designed to support the judges to gather comparative perspectives on the role of contitutional courts in other jurisdictions and their methodological approaches to discharging their constitutional mandates.
The first seminar, on 15 September, focused on judicial interpretation. Seven judges of the Constitutional Court participated in Palestine, with the CTN team engaging online via Zoom. Prof Cheryl Saunders led the session, with support from Dr Tom Daly and Dr Anna Dziedzic. Prof Saunders provided a range of comparative perspectives, discussing a couple of specific cases to illustrate variations in the approach to interpretating the law in different jurisdictions.
The second seminar, on 16 September, focused on to the courts roles in human rights protection. Eight judges of the Constitutional Court participated. Dr Tom Daly led the session, with support from Prof Cheryl Saunders. The discussion was very engaging, with judges sharing their own experiences and reflections on the topic. Tom provided a range of comparative perspectives, including from his home country of Ireland, reflecting on the specific challenges of rights protection in countries managing major political transitions.
Support to civil society stakeholders on gender and constitution making
Dr Dinesha Samraratne and Dr Anna Dziedzic from ConTransNet facilitated three online seminars for approximately 50 Palestinian thought-leaders over three weeks, on 30 September, 7 October and 14 November. CCS brought in ConTransNet to provide training to this core group of stakeholders on gender and constitution-making. Their presentations covered a range of issues, including how gender equality can be reflected both in constitution-making processes and substance.
In 2016, Palestine finalised the first draft of its new constitution which aims to replace the provisional Basic Law. There have been various attempts to draft a constitution over the years by the Palestinian leadership. In 2015, a “Constitutional Committee” was created by the Palestinian National Council, which is the legislative arm of the Palestine Libration Organization. The Committee chose 8 male experts to form an “expert committee for drafting the constitution”. The appointed Drafting Committee lacked gender diversity when the first draft was completed. The draft was sent to the Constitutional Committee for discussion after it was completed. In 2019, a female expert was added to the Drafting Committee by the National Council, leading women's organizations to start discussing the draft more specifically in terms of the need for more gender-sensitive language. Their discussion also focused on the way the draft should deal with international agreements, especially the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which Palestine signed without any reservations.
The Centre for Constitutional Studies (CCS) at an-Najah National University collaborated with the NGO, Women Media and Development (TAM) to develop a project which aims to contribute to re-drafting the draft Constitution to make it more gender-sensitive and inclusive of all the Palestinian people, as well as to preserve the rights of minority groups, ensure women’s and girls rights, rights of people with disabilities and people of different sexual orientations.