Time to Revise the Iraqi Constitution?

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Does Iraqi really need more problems right now? Is there not already a complete stalemate on such momentous pieces of legislation as the oil and gas law and the federal supreme court law? Can parliament realistically be expected to accomplish significant things when it cannot even agree on its own bylaws or indeed on exactly who the members of parliament are?

Against that backdrop, the sudden call by members of Iraqiyya this week for the appointment of a new parliamentary committee to urgently revise the Iraqi constitution from 2005 inevitably comes across as somewhat unrealistic. The suggested timeline of three months seems particularly utopian.

The constitutional aspect of the matter is as follows. Article 142 of the constitution calls for the establishment of a committee at the beginning of the first parliament (i.e. in 2005-06) that should be representative of the “components” of the Iraqi people and charged with doing a revision of the constitution within four months - to be approved by parliament with an absolute majority and subsequently in a popular referendum where it must not be rejected by two thirds of the voters in any three governorates.

In other words, the constitutional revision belongs to the special category of time sensitive issues in the Iraqi constitution. Other such items include the law for the formation of regions (whose 6-month deadline was violated by some months but nonetheless did produce an actual piece of legislation in October 2006) and the settlement of Kirkuk and other disputed-territories issues (supposedly before 31 December 2007 but not yet implemented).

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