“Decentralization in Unitary States: Constitutional Frameworks for the Arab States Region”, The Center for Constitutional Transitions, International IDEA and United Nations Development Program Reports: Constitutional Design in the Middle East and North Africa (2015) (also translated into Arabic).


Decentralization involves the transfer of responsibility and authority from the central government to the provincial level of government, the local level of government, or both. Decentralization has the potential to deepen democratic values and improve the quality of life in neglected communities, and thus is an important topic to consider during democratic transitions. This report considers the relevance of decentralization to the democratic transitions and constitutional (re)construction in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The report explores the benefits that decentralization holds for the MENA region, as democratic reconstruction proceeds, and points out that democratic reconstruction presents a good opportunity to establish a system of decentralized local government. The constitutional design options presented and analysed in this report are intended as a resource for countries in the process of political decentralization. The focus of this report is decentralization within unitary countries. Whereas federal countries usually transfer political authority to regional governments (i.e. to provinces or states), unitary countries do not necessarily have regional political units. For this reason, the local level of government (i.e. municipalities or counties) is more relevant to the consideration of unitary, decentralized countries or unitary countries that are in the process of decentralizing. The report therefore focuses on the decentralization of political authority to the local level of government.