Politicians, journalists, civil society groups, and international analysts have been discussing whether Libya’s historical monarchical constitution of 1951 could serve as a reference point in providing a comprehensive and broadly accepted legal framework that could stabilise the current political situation, or if the constitutional text adopted by the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) in 2017 should be enacted. This paper compares those two texts against international obligations of democratic government.
An overview and analysis of such obligations can be found in several DRI documents. Most of these standards had not yet emerged when the monarchical constitution was drafted, but they apply today, and a re-enacted constitution would be judged against them. This paper does not cover the National Transitional Council’s 2011 Constitutional Declaration as it was not intended and designed to serve as a long-term constitutional basis for democratic governance.
While both constitutional texts have strengths and weaknesses, the CDA draft reflects a substantial evolution in constitutional design overall. The 1951 constitution particularly falls short in the areas of human rights protections, checks and balances, and the protection of independent institutions.
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