Negotiating in Civil ConflictConstitutional Construction and Imperfect Bargaining in Iraq

Negotiating in Civil ConflictConstitutional Construction and Imperfect Bargaining in Iraq

Haider Ala Hamoudi

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226315348

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


The purpose of this book is to describe effective means of constitution making in societies that are not only divided, but divided in such a manner that disparate groups have entirely different conceptions of what the state should look like, with each group seeking to project its own vision onto the constitution. Using the example of Iraq, the book indicates that the solution in such unusual, but not unprecedented, circumstances is to embrace capaciousness in the founding document, and to support continuing efforts at reconciliation among disparate groups such that after ratification, they can develop suitable, consensual constructions of the capacious framework text so as to render the constitution a workable and functioning foundational document. An idealized process wherein all relevant political interests come together into a broader constitutional bargaining session and all matters of deep contention are consensually settled in some semi-permanent fashion is realistic in some, indeed perhaps most, settings. However, it is not a particularly useful model for a society like that of Iraq suffering from deep identitarian divisions with political grievances that span a period of decades, if not centuries. Greater time to negotiate, and broader experience in the practices and policies of governing, are necessary before something approaching a lasting functional order can exist. To achieve a successful form of constitution making in such a society, it becomes necessary to look beyond the original bargain, to the subsequent construction of flexible, incomplete framework constitutional text in a consensual fashion over a period of time.