Caitlin Dearing Scott
September 16, 2016
“We the People.” For many Americans, three simple words instantly evoke a sense of history, pride, and patriotism. They’ve become so ingrained in our identity that products ranging from pizza to PayPal have adopted them as their own. They are the opening words of our Constitution, which tomorrow—on US Constitution Day—turns 229 years old.
Morocco’s Constitution isn’t nearly as old (nor does it open with “We the People”); but like the US’s document, it sets forth a vision for the values and future of the country. And there’s a lot to love about it. On the occasion of US Constitution Day, which commemorates the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document — here is a look at five things that make Morocco’s 2011 Constitution so significant.
It Celebrates the Country’s Diversity
“Its unity is forged by the convergence of its Arab-Islamist, Amazigh, and Saharan-Hassanic] components, nourished and enriched by its African, Andalusian, Hebraic and Mediterranean influences.”
The preamble to the Constitution celebrates Morocco’s rich cultural heritage, drawing attention to both ethnic and religious diversity as a source of the country’s unity.
It Decentralizes Power
“The territorial organization of the Kingdom is decentralized. It is founded on an advanced regionalization.”
In addition to establishing that the Head of Government be appointed from the party that wins the most seats in Parliamentary elections and expanding the powers of both the Head of Government and the Parliament, the Constitution empowers Moroccans with more control and leadership at the local government level—making local and regional officials directly accountable to voters.
It Strengthens the Independence of the Judiciary
“The judicial power is independent of the legislative power and of the executive power.”
The Constitution establishes an independent judiciary with a newly mandated Constitutional Court and calls for a series of laws to ensure this independence, sparking a larger process of judicial reform in the Kingdom.
It Provides increased Protections for Human Rights
“The National Human Rights Council is a pluralist and independent national institution, charged with taking cognizance of all questions relative to the defense and to the protection of the human rights and of freedoms, guaranteeing their full exercise and their promotion, as well as the preservation of the dignity of the individual and collective rights and freedoms of citizens.
The Constitution enshrines essential civil liberties and human rights – freedom of speech, assembly, association, and the press – and establishes an independent National Human Rights Council to guarantee those rights under the law.
It Reinforces Gender Equality
“The man and the woman enjoy, in equality, the rights and freedoms of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental character, enunciated in this Title and in the other provisions of the Constitution, as well as in the international conventions and pacts duly ratified by Morocco.”
The Constitution contains eighteen articles relating to women’s rights, and Article 19 consecrates the principle of gender equality in the exercise of all fundamental rights – civil, political, cultural, economic, social, and environmental. The Constitution also contains a provision to harmonize national law with Morocco’s existing commitments under international law. This is especially important regarding women’s rights, since Morocco is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).