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Constitutional reform as a means for democratic transformation in Sudan
Verfassungsreform als Mittel zur demokratischen Transformation in Sudan
Abdelgabar, Noha Ibrahim
Dokument 1.pdf (2.999 KB)
Völkerrecht , Menschenrecht , Verfassungsrecht
Freie Schlagwörter (Deutsch):
Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch):
Wolfrum, Rüdiger (Prof. Dr.)
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung:
Kurzfassung auf Englisch:
Summary of the Study
Sudan is the third largest country on the African continent with a total area of 1,882,000 sq km. before the secession of South Sudan in 2011; Sudan was the largest country in Africa, covering I million square miles. Sudan is unique and complex in its climate, politics, environment, languages, cultures, religion and ethnicities. Demographically, Africans are the majority (52%), with Arab and Beja tribes constituting 38% and 6% of the population, respectively. Over 597 tribes live in Sudan that speak more than 400 dialects and practice different religions, live in Sudan. Muslims make up 70% of the total population of Sudan, followers of indigenous beliefs comprise 25% and Christians constitute 5% of the population. The complex mixture of the Sudanese social fabric renders it neither distinctly African nor Arab country. The Sudanese, however, have long disagreed about Sudan’s identity. For some, Sudan should be Arab and Muslim. Other believe that the country should respect and accommodate all the cultures, religions and minorities within its territory. Most of Sudan constitutions stated that Islam and Arabic language should define the national identity.
Politically, since the independence, Sudan has experienced a fluctuation between military rule and democratic rule. In fact, Sudan spent thirty years under the military rule, and only twelve years under democratically elected governments. The successive governments have frequently made use of emergency legislation to broaden the executive powers. These legislative measures have contributed to conflict and facilitated a range of human rights violations. In addition to the political instability, Sudan has the distinction in Africa in enduring a devastating civil war: that is: Sudan’s north-south civil war. The conflict started just a year before the independence of Sudan, in 1956. The cumulative impact of that conflict has been massive. The conflict has caused horrendous loss of life in any interstate war, and has produced the largest internally displaced population (IDP) in the world.
Sudan north-south conflict has long been perceived as ethnic or even religious conflict between the north and the south. Ethnicity has been used generously in the description of that conflict. Yet, a closer look at the history of the conflict reveals that the root-causes of that conflict are highly complex. But, this is by no means to say that conflict has had no ethnic, racial and religious overtones. The eruption of the north-south conflict was the result of a combination of factors. One could trace the root-causes of the conflict to the invasion of the south from the north by Turkiyya that expanded southwards, and the simultaneous development of slave trade. Thereafter, the British rule contributed in different ways to the crystallizing of the north-south dichotomy.
After the independence of Sudan, successive governments, were unsuccessful in handling the growing southern problem, ranging from neglect to attempts to reverse the British isolation by enforced Arabisation and Islamization of the southern Sudan. The north-south conflict ended, in 1972, when Addis Ababa Agreement was signed by then President Nimeiry. But, the conflict broke out again, in 1983, when the Addis Ababa Agreement was abrogated by the then President Nimeiry. After a series of peace talks (which witnessed ‘start and stop’), a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was concluded, in 9 January 2005, between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM/SPLA) to end the conflict.
The CPA provides for a temporary solution for the conflict through, inter alia, the distribution of the power between the north and the south of Sudan by establishing a decentralised system of government with a significant devolution of powers within which the Southern Sudan is to enjoy a regional autonomy and share half of the resources with north Sudan for a period of six years. Furthermore, the CPA creates joint institutions, such as, the Government of the National Unity (GoNU) in which the Southern Sudan participate and share ministerial posts. The CPA also provides for the establishment of a number of commissions for implementing and monitoring the CPA, for instance, the Evaluation and Monitoring Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, etc. At the end of the interim period, a referendum on the self-determination is to be held, in 2011, in which the people of the Southern Sudan will decide whether to remain within a united Sudan or to secede and form an independent State.
The Aim of the Study
The significance of this study derives from the conclusion of the CPA and the adoption of the Interim National Constitution (INC) that called for democratic transformation so as to bring an end to Sudan north-south conflict. While the CPA ended Sudan’s north-south conflict, a lasting peace and a democratic transformation, in Sudan, may prove elusive unless the CPA provisions are translated into reality, especially the implementation of constitutional, legislative and institutional reforms, including human rights protection and respect for the rule of law.
The study aims to answer whether the CPA and INC can fulfil their roles in securing peace and establishing a framework in which the constitutional protection of human rights are recognised and effectively implemented through the availability of the various mechanisms. In this respect, the CPA provided for the adoption of a new constitution (INC), with a view to embedding constitutionalism, rule of law promotion, and protection of human rights. It is, therefore, this study is meant to analyze the constitutional, legislative and institutional reforms of the CPA and INC with a view to examining whether such constitutional reforms may be conducive for a lasting peace, in Sudan, that is based on human rights protection, constitutionalism and the rule of law.
The CPA stipulated the need for institutional and legislative changes to reduce the risk of recurrence of human rights violations. To this end, the CPA mandated the adoption of a bill of right (for the promotion and protection of human rights) and provided for re-restructuring of the courts system. Such institutional reforms are aimed at embedding constitutionalism. That is to say: establishing a system in which the constitution provides an agreed upon framework for the exercise of powers and the protection of human rights. In this respect, the study examines whether the outcome of the constitutional reforms process (to recognise, implement, and protect human rights as provided for in the INC) have been reflected in institutional and legislative reforms to protect and prevent human rights violations and address past violations and systemic factors that have contributed to violations. To that end, the human right jurisprudence of the constitutional court will be examined.
The Organization of the Study
a) The Structure of the Political/Governance System in Sudan under the INC
With the devolution of the powers and resources to the Southern Sudan level and other States, the governance system, under the INC, is structured with four levels of government: the national level at the apex, the Government of South Sudan level, the State level (25 States), the local level. Now, the government responsibilities are decentralized and the national government allocates a significant proportion of revenues to the States. It is, therefore, that the first question that this study poses is: What is the impact of the current governance in giving greater equity of representation and decision-making influence to communities across Sudan, thereby facilitating conflict management to achieve a lasting peace in Sudan?
In Sudan, previously appropriate design of institutions to ensure political accommodations for all social groups has not been established in a way that would give them the chance to function properly. Now, the INC restructures the prevailing governance system by establishing a decentralized system of government that bears the characteristics of asymmetrical/symmetrical federalism - asymmetrical in the structure and responsibilities of subunits, with the level of South Sudan having more powers and resources than other States across Sudan.
Establishment of a federal structure may constitute a mechanism for preventing a relapse into conflict through the devolution of the powers to the State level. For a federal to work effectively, it requires a functional court system to decide on the jurisdictional limits of the different levels of government. Nevertheless, the relevance of the court system in resolving the intractably political contentions in federal countries, especially in transition situations, is uncertain. Noticeably missing from the literature is the study and analysis of the impact of the role of court system in post conflict countries.
That said, the role of the court system in preserving democracy has grown in importance with the increase recognition of the judicial review of the constitutionality of the acts of the government organs and the recognition and the protection of human rights provisions. It is, therefore, that the involvement of the courts is necessary to ensure the successful operation of the federalism and thus the failure or the success of federalism is contingent on the implementation of the federal system by the courts. According to some scholars, ‘federalism means legalism – the predominance of the judiciary in the constitution- the prevalence of a spirit of legality among the people’. As ‘[the] courts …are actually telling a government how far it can go with its assigned constitutional rights’.
This leads to the second question that this study addresses which relates to the analysis of the constitutional reform as provided for in the INC, in general, but with a special focus on the role of the court system, through the application of judicial review and protection of human rights, to resolve not only disputes in litigations between private parties, but also to prevent the arbitrary exercise of the government power.
b) The Structure of the Legal System (Court System) in Sudan under the INC
The available literature presents different views as to the role of the court system in new democracies. On one hand, one view assumes that the courts have a fairly wide discretion to decide the outcome of the controversial cases to the needs of the political moment. The other view, on the other hand, takes the position that political actors do not exert any kind of influence at all on the way judges make their decisions. A third source, and with which I agree, argues that legal rules do put constrains over the exercise of the judicial discretion in controversial cases. A fourth view argues that in new fragile democracies constitutional courts/supreme courts should not be involved in judicial review, especially on adjudicating issues related to social and economic rights, which may profoundly affect the allocations of resources and violate the doctrine of separation of powers.
In this respect, the study considers whether the court system, as restructured in the INC, and other constitutional guarantees introduced to the legal system as a whole, offer good prospects for constitutionalism that may control the power of the government so as not act arbitrarily. The role of court system in resolving disputes is highly contingent on the substantive law and the institutional structure within which the courts apply laws. Thus, this study examines to what extent the current structure of the legal system under the INC and the protection of human rights through the application of the Bill of Rights by the courts may signal the State’s commitment to constitutionalism and respect to the rule of law. It is, therefore, that the role of the court system (in contributing to democratic transformation in Sudan) should be evaluated against the legal framework: that is the INC, with a focus on the independence of the judiciary, the application of the Bill of Rights and the rules governing the judicial review.
c) The Legislative and Institutional Reforms under the INC
The functions of the courts, in developing countries, have experienced increasingly transformative role as institutions that can hold the government organs accountable. The study aims to examine the practice of constitutionalism: that is, the implementation of the INC constitutional, institutional and legislative reforms, especially the compliance with the provisions of the INC and the CPA, in particular the role of the constitutional court as “a positive legislator”.
In this regard, the Sudanese Constitutional Court may play an important role in the law reform process given its power to annul laws found unconstitutional. This entails the non-applicability of such laws and, as a result, would compel the government institution/organ concerned to adopt new legislation that is in conformity with the INC. Thus far, the Sudanese constitutional court, under the INC, has received a number of human rights cases that involved issues related to violations of human rights or related to the constitutionality of key legislation, such as counter-terrorism laws, immunities for officials and statutes of limitation for torture.
So what role the constitutional court has played in the law reform process under the INC? For the court system to play a role in the democratic reform, a comprehensive law reform process is seen as a prerequisite to bring the existing laws in line with the provisions of the INC and enacting new laws. Therefore, this study identifies what legislative and institutional reforms that have been undertaken by the parties to the CPA during the interim period to address human rights violations, root-causes of the conflict; inequality; marginalization, rule of law vacuum and weak democratic structures. Furthermore, this study offers empirical evidence for the judicial behavior of the Sudanese constitutional court through a systematic examination of selected human rights jurisprudence of the constitutional court to gauge its role in the law reform process in Sudan since the adoption of the INC.
Overview of the Study and the Main Findings of the Study
Introductory Chapter: Overview of the Study
The Introductory Chapter provides an overview of the study, including, the key features of the State of Sudan, the aim of the study, the main objectives of the study, and a general overview of the study.
Chapter One: A Historical Background of Sudan’s North-South Conflict
Chapter One gives a rich and deep account of Sudan north-south conflict. It looks at the root-causes of the conflict by elaborating on different factors that directly and indirectly contributed in making that conflict protracted. Chapter one moves on to consider the end of the first Sudan’s north-south conflict which was ended when Addis Ababa Agreement was signed in 1972. Chapter one further elaborates on Sudan’s second north-south conflict which broke out in 1983. Finally, Chapter one touches on the various peace initiatives that ended by the conclusion of the CPA. Chapter One concludes by analysing the CPA. In the final analysis, the CPA made significant changes the prevailing governance and legal systems in Sudan by establishing a federal system, introduced a dual legal system a bill of rights, provided for the right to self-determination for the south Sudan, established institutions for the protection of human rights by establishing mechanisms such as National Human rights Commission, and distributed the wealth equally between the north and the south. However, the CPA failed to include the Sudanese people in the talks leading to the conclusion of the CPA, as the CPA was bilateral reflecting the views of the north and the south.
Chapter Two: The Structure of the Governance System under the INC
The INC describes Sudan as a decentralized State with different levels of government: the national level, the Southern Sudan level, the State level and the local level. It further grants the Southern Sudan autonomy status. A careful analysis of the current governance arrangements reveals that the INC provides for asymmetric/symmetrical federalism system of governance.
Chapter Two discusses the allocation of legislative powers between the national government, the Southern Sudan and the rest of the country and the nature of the constitutional design of the INC to manage diversity of Sudan (ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural diversity). At the outset of Chapter Three provides an overview the fundamental principles of federalism and provides a brief historical background of federalism in Sudan and how federalism arrangements can play a role as a tool for peace-building. In the final analysis, in contract with old constitutions of Sudan, the INC establishes a federal system, with four levels of government; national, south Sudan, State and local levels. The INC federal system guarantees the special characteristics of all ethnic and religious groups in Sudan through the creation of the Council of the States. However, all the States in Sudan are not treated equally, because (1) two States have special status (South Kordofan and Blue Nile States), and (2) between the ten States in the South and the national level, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is inserted to exercise authority in respect of the ten States at South Sudan level. This means the INC creates asymmetrical/symmetrical federalism, as the South Sudan level enjoys significant autonomy and exclusive authority over ten States in South Sudan.
All the States in Sudan are not treated equally, because (1) two States have special status (South Kordofan and Blue Nile States), and (2) between the ten States in the South and the national level, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is inserted to exercise authority in respect of the ten States at South Sudan level. This means the INC creates asymmetrical/symmetrical federalism, as the South Sudan level enjoys significant autonomy and exclusive authority over ten States in South Sudan.
The INC Schedules (A – C) distribute the exclusive and legislative powers to the national level (A), the GoSS level (B), and the state level (C). Schedule (D) lists the concurrent powers and Schedule (E) allocates the residual powers as per its nature. Schedule (F) is a provision to resolve conflict that might arise under Schedule (D). It should be noted that not all issues listed in the INC schedules are allocated to one level of government only. For example, several substantive issues are granted to the national level as an exclusive competence, to the South Sudan level as an exclusive competence and at the same time to all levels of government as a concurrent power, such as telecommunication. With regard to the legislative powers allocated to the tens states at the South level, the GoSS according to Schedule (B) has the competence to enact a kind of framework with regard to issues that fall under the exclusive South Sudan State competence, thereby limiting the legislative powers of the ten States in South Sudan.
Finally, the INC has reinforced existing power relations and failed to provide structural changes for democratic transformation, as the INC asymmetrical federalism accommodates the demands of the South Sudan only. As the INC does not accommodate the demands of the different ethnic and cultural groups in the different regions of Sudan as demonstrated in Darfur Peace Agreement and East Sudan Agreement.
Chapter Three: The Structure of the Legal System under the INC
The INC altered the Sudanese legal system with a view to accommodating the competing views: Sharia law and secularism. For a proper understanding of the present Sudanese legal system and an assessment of the role of the court system in contributing to democratic governance, a glance at the Sudanese legal history is necessary. Firstly, Chapter Three reviews the constitutional developments in Sudan since the independence to the present day. Secondly, Chapter Three provides overview of the structure of the court system in a decentralized system and focuses on the contribution of the court system to democratic transformation through limiting the acts of the government. Chapter Three further discusses issues that may impact of the role of the court system in contributing to democratic transformation.
Yet, the role of the court system in promoting democratic transformation is contingent on the constitution, the substantive law, etc. For instance, instituting the principles of constitutionalism is contingent on the independence of the judiciary, as an independent judiciary is required for the protection of constitutional rights and to restrain the actions of the government. Thus, it is important to understand under what conditions the court system develops such accountability functions: that is, what conditions favor the ability of the court system to exercise an effective accountability functions.
It is, therefore, Chapter Three examines (a) how the INC re-structures the court system in the north and the south of Sudan so as to give effect to the principles of the federalism and legal pluralism; (b) the rules regulating the judicial review, and (c) the protection of human rights through the implementation of the bill of rights by the court, all of which signal the commitment of the State to establish democratic governance.
Finally, Chapter Three attempts to evaluate the independence of the judiciary and the rules that govern the judicial review before and after the adoption of the INC with a view to assessing the fidelity of the government to the principles of constitutionalism, and whether the limitations observed in the actual conduct of the government. In the final analysis, the INC constitution making process was bilateral reflecting the views of the parties to the CPA and lacked inclusiveness, but provides for a pluralism legal system by providing for a constitution for south Sudan and 25 State constitutions. The INC introduces State judiciary and South Sudan judiciary and opted for an integrated the court system. That is: the State courts apply the State laws, the national laws and the South Sudan laws. In the North, the State courts are still organized by the national level, although the NC provides for the establishment of the State judiciary. At the South Sudan level, all State courts are organized and financed at the level. Towards the South Sudan, the National Supreme Court is the final court of on matters arising under national laws
The INC emphasizes the importance of protecting; respecting and promoting human rights through the inclusion a bill of right and incorporation via Art. 27(3) of the INC all human rights treaties that Sudan has ratified, thereby the human rights contained in the INC directly applicable before the Sudanese courts. Also, the implementation of some human rights requires revision of the existing statutory laws. To date there has been limited legislative reforms to address human rights violations. A few laws have been reformed but fall short of Sudan international obligations, such as Criminal Act, Security Laws, Immunity Laws, etc.
The INC differentiates between the north and the south regarding the sources of legislation. Art. 5 of the INC lists Sharia as one of the sources of legislation along with the consensus of the people at the national level. Art. 5(2) of the INC names popular consensus and the values and the customs of the people of Sudan as the sources of legislation in South Sudan. The INC contains special rules for national legislation if its source is religion or custom. In that case, a state where the majority of residents do not practice such religion or customs may introduce different legislation allows practices or establishes institutions in that State that are consistent with its own religion or customs. The INC establishes human rights commission for the implementation of the bill of rights as well as a commission for the protection of non-Muslims in the Capital.
The INC has chosen a concentrated system of judicial review and a hybrid system of judicial review with respect to the South Sudan as the Supreme Court of South Sudan acts as a constitutional court and a high court of Appeal with respect to South Sudan. The newly enacted Judicial and Administrative of 2005 does not provide for concrete judicial review of law and bars the court from question the constitutionality of law by way of making referral to the constitutional court, thereby renders the judiciary unable to deal with crucial constitutional issues.
Chapter Four: Institutional and Legislative Reform: Practice of Constitutionalism
In order to understand whether the adoption of the INC has brought any changes may enhance the role of the court system in contributing to democratic transformation; Chapter Four scrutinizes the compliance of the statutory law with the provisions of the INC, the law reform process in Sudan and the implementation of law in practice. Chapter Four further presents an analysis of more pertinent provisions of civil and political rights in the light of the laws and practices prevailing in the country to assess the extent to which the principles laid down in the INC are complied with. It further assesses the involvement of the Sudan constitutional court in the law reform process by reviewing a selected human rights jurisprudence of the constitutional court. Finally, Chapter Four makes a reference to the jurisprudence of other constitutional courts (the German constitutional court, the Indian Supreme Court and the South African constitutional court) by way of comparison. In the final analysis, a) the INC does not set out procedure for concrete review and access to the court is not free; b) The court has a broad power to consider and adjudge and annual any law in contravention with the constitution and restitute the right to the aggrieved person and compensate for the harm. The court may also order interim measures to avoid any harm. As such, the court can abolish laws and compel the government to enact new law; c) the constitutional court has reviewed a number of cases that alleged the violation of human rights. The court has demonstrated reluctance to declare legislation unconstitutional. Interpretation of the bill of rights and reference to international human rights lacked consistency and the court has taken deference to the executive; d) the constitutional, legislative and institutional changes did not acknowledge past human rights violations through mechanisms that would question the way of governance and persisting inequalities and injustices; e) the constitutional court has institutional weaknesses and its jurisprudence has largely upheld existing laws such as immunities laws and the constitutional court made limited reference to international human rights law; f) the constitutional, legal and institutional reforms failed to generate the sense of constitutionalism and the fundamental change that were to remove the causes for human rights violations and provide effective remedies. A number of laws contravening the human rights are still in force, such as, Public Order Act, Immunity of police, security and army officers, inadequate laws for the protection of women’s rights; and finally, the implementation of CPA as a means of democratic transformation left an unreformed government virtually intact
Chapter Five: Post- Referendum Sudan
Chapter Five looks at the constitutional developments after the secession of South Sudan, with a focus on constitution making process in Sudan.
The Southern Sudan Referendum for self-determination, held in July 2011, clearly indicated that the absolute majority of those who participated in the referendum for the Southern Sudan favour separation of the Southern Sudan from Sudan. The secession of the South Sudan on July 9, 2011, as a result of the referendum on self-determination provided by the CPA has created a new reality in Sudan with far reaching economic, political and social implications. Economic and financial losses related to the secession are substantial and have affected all sectors of the economy. Sudan has lost three-quarters of its largest source of foreign exchange (oil), half of its fiscal revenues and about two-thirds of its international payment capacity.
In general, the secession of South Sudan resulted in a 36.5% structural decrease in overall government revenues. The unresolved issue of Abyei constitutes a trigger for potential violent tension in the future between Sudan and South Susan. Abyei status is yet to be decided, as both Sudan and South Sudan claiming it as part of its territory. Its final status will be decided by a Referendum for which implementation mechanisms have not yet been agreed upon by the two countries.
The end of the CPA necessitated a constitutional review process to decide on the new constitution to replace the INC. However, for a constitution to be able to win the affections of the citizens of the State, it will be necessary to involve those citizens in the constitution-making process that establishes such a constitution, so as to ensure that the process is inclusive and reflects the aspirations of the Sudanese people at large. It is, therefore, important to increase public involvement in the constitution-making process by inviting public participation. In order for the design of a constitution and its constitution-making process to play an important role in the governance system, the design of the constitution has to be responsive to the aspirations of the ordinary people.
A constitutional review process is currently under way but has not resulted in any clear proposals. That said, since 2011, a constitutional review has been underway in Sudan. The constitutional review process has not been participatory or inclusive. Lively debates on the new constitution in general, and the Bill of Rights and human rights protection in particular, have nevertheless ensued. These debates have been driven by a keen awareness of the importance of constitutional rights. These debates reflect both traditional concerns over the protection of civil and political rights, particularly in the administration of justice, and other issues that have also become a cause of acute concern. These include the desire for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, and the rights of members of groups who suffer discrimination, particular women, religious and ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities.
Currently, public debate over the new constitution is proceeding, although the Government has not yet announced a timeframe for the constitution making process, amid a polarization of views on diverse issues such as the decentralization of power and wealth sharing between the different regions of Sudan. Since 2011, the Government of Sudan, in collaboration with the UNDP and other UN agencies, initiated the forum on public participation in constitution making to facilitate open and public dialogue. This approach has been based on the need to pursue the constitutional process/review inclusively, transparently and participatory to ensure all sectors of society including civil society organizations and opposition political groups participate fully in the process.