Afsah commences project on parliamentarism’s new era in the Arab World – University of Copenhagen

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31 May 2016

Afsah commences project on parliamentarism’s new era in the Arab World

Dr. AfsahEbrahim Afsah, Associate Professor of Public International Law at the Centre for Comparative and European Constitutional Studies (CECS), Faculty of Law, working with Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, Associate Professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, have received a large external funding grant for a new project, ‘A New Era of Parliamentarism in the Arab World’.

The new study is being supported by the Fund for Academic Cooperation and Exchange (FACE) between Denmark and the Arab World through the Danish-Arab Partnership Programme (DAPP), supported by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The recent upheavals in the Arab world have led to a massive transformation of the socio-political landscape in the region. As autocracies were toppled by popular uprisings, there was much hope that a new era of parliamentarism was about to begin. These hopes have, largely, not come to pass, and why this project seeks to investigate why not and what could be done to help participatory democracy to gain hold. 

The project seeks to establish a lasting cooperation with local academic institutions. It builds on the outcome of a preparatory mission in March 2016 that sought to establish a network of individual and institutional collaborators in the following key Arab states – Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. Libyan and Syrian academics will be included as much as the shifting and difficult conditions on the ground permit.

The general argument is that, for decades, Arab parliaments were under the control of the executive and did not control it. The Arab revolutions of 2011 were about asserting the people’s power and should have implications for parliaments which were neither a cause of, an instigator to, or even a player in the revolutions. Where the revolutions succeeded there was an unrelenting demand for institutional change. And in at least the Moroccan case, the king took the initiative to reform parliamentary politics as a strategy of accommodation to rising protests. 

Five years on, the project is to investigate how these hopes and pressures have played out. Not only in the sense of whether revolutionary demands have been met, but in the broader sense of how parliamentary politics are organised and legislative work carried out in the wake of these upheavals.

Students interested in doctoral work in the field are encouraged to contact the principal investigators.

For more on this project, contact Ebrahim Afsah ( and Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen (