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6.24.2009

Iraq's Constitutional Review

Iraq’s Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), a body empowered by Art. 142 of the Constitution to do a one-off comprehensive reexamination of Iraq’s Constitution, is set to present its list of proposed amendments to the Iraq Parliament within the next couple of weeks. Two and half years of work has resulted in a list of meaningful and substantial amendments on a wide ranging set of issues including the articulation of Iraq’s second chamber of parliament and the creation of a Constitutional Court. The Committee’s work, however, will likely be remembered more for what it failed to accomplish then what it achieved – the report is currently silent on the most critical issues facing Iraq today, including power-sharing between the central government and the Kurdistan region, hydrocarbon management and revenue sharing, executive power-sharing, and Iraq’s disputed internal boundaries. The CRC unsuccessfully engaged on each of these issues during its tenure and is now hoping political party leaders will take them on over the next two weeks (before the report is officially submitted to Parliament). Any agreements reached during that time will be reflected in the report. Agreement, however, is highly unlikely. If anything the national elections, slated to be held in January 2010, makes these issues even more highly charged and compromise less likely.

Iraq is therefore looking at the prospect of a January referendum on constitutional amendments, held concurrently with the national elections, which will address several important matters but will neglect those most critical to fashioning a true national compact. Iraq will carry on without these changes, which can be proposed later through the normal (though more difficult) amendment process or dealt with through legislation and/or political compromises. But an opportunity will have been missed.

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