D.C. Panel Highlights Morocco’s Constitutional Reform Efforts

The panel discussion focused on prospects for democratic advancement and human rights in Morocco.

The panel discussion focused on prospects for democratic advancement and human rights in Morocco.

August 2011 

On July 13, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) hosted a panel on constitutional reform in Morocco at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Driss al Yazami, president of Morocco’s National Human Rights Council and a member of the constitution-revision advisory committee, which authored the recently adopted Moroccan constitution, and Saloua Karkri-Belkeziz, a Moroccan parliamentarian, offered remarks with commentary from Ambassador Aziz Mekouar, the representative from Morocco in the United States, and William Zartman, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University.

The panel, which focused on prospects for democratic advancement and human rights, was organized against the backdrop of the June 30 referendum, which resulted in adoption of a new constitutional framework. Al Yazami highlighted the most consequential changes to the constitution, such as the adoption of Berber as one of Morocco’s national languages, the broadening of equal rights for women and the enshrinement of the judiciary’s independence. Moreover, al Yazami said that 50 of the constitution’s 180 articles relate to human rights. Indicating that the constitutional revision had broad participation, Al Yazami said that the advisory committee reviewed more than 200 memoranda from 33 political parties, five trade unions and numerous civil service and non-governmental organizations. Al Yazami also stated that all framework legislation are required to be adopted within five years of the new constitution’s adoption.

Karkri-Belkeziz spoke about the constitution’s implications for the Moroccan economy and for women’s rights. She said that article 19 “sets equality between men and women as an objective and establishes a high authority to implement this equality.” Karkri-Belkeziz said that this would improve prospects for economic growth in the kingdom, as more than 50 percent of Morocco’s highly qualified and trained persons are women. She also said that the new constitution’s emphasis on governmental openness would promote economic development.

ABA ROLI has been providing Moroccan stakeholders with legal technical assistance since 2004. Currently, ABA ROLI—with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and its Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, as well as the Embassy of the Netherlands in Morocco—is working to strengthen Morocco’s capacity to address corruption and to protect the fundamental rights of accused juvenile offenders.

Click here to watch a video of the panel discussion. Video

To learn more about our work in Morocco, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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