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February 20 2014

Tunisia's revolutionary constitution

This week, the Tunisian parliament passed a truly historic constitution widely heralded as a progressive and monumental document. The document is the result of lengthy negotiations between a government dominated by Islamists and the largely secular opposition. Of the 216 votes cast, there were about two hundred in favor of the new constitution, which forms the basis for a new democratic state in Tunisia after the uprising of 2011.


The new constitution guarantees equality between men and women; contains a constitutional mandate for environmental protection (Tunisia is the third country in the world to do so); contains a declaration that health care is a human right (with preventative care and treatment for every citizen) and guarantees freedom of religion.


The legislation concerning the environment can also be called revolutionary. The constitution promises that a “contribution to a sound climate and the right to a sound and balanced environment shall be guaranteed and the state shall provide the necessary means to eliminate environmental pollution.”


In one stroke, Tunisia's constitution has become more democratic than the constitution of many Western countries. It is seen as a victory for democracy and human rights.



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