Sujit Choudhry has been an advisor to constitution building, governance, and rule of law processes for over 20 years, including in Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Myanmar, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen. Much of his international work is through the Center for Constitutional Transitions, which he founded and directs. He is also a Senior Advisor to the Forum of Federations.
Choudhry’s expertise includes: constitutional design as a tool to manage the transition from violent conflict to peaceful democratic politics; constitutional design in ethnically divided societies; federalism, decentralization and secession; semi-presidentialism; constitutional courts and transitional justice; official language policy; minority and group rights; bills of rights; constitutional design in the context of transitions from authoritarian to democratic rule; constitution building processes; security sector oversight.
Choudhry has worked in a broad variety of contexts, including during ceasefires and conditions of political violence, and his field experience includes: technical advice to multi-party dialogues, facilitating public dialogue sessions with civil society groups and other stakeholders, leading stakeholder consultations, performing detailed advisory work with technical experts, training civil servants and bureaucrats, engaging party leaders and parliamentarians, and drafting technical reports and memoranda in the field.
Here are some examples of Choudhry’s international engagements:
- Legal advisor to multi-party dialogue for Myanmar peace process, through International IDEA (since April 2019, in Myanmar and Europe; ongoing; details confidential).
- Legal advisor to Yemen multi-party dialogue, convened by International IDEA under the auspices of the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (since July 2018, in Tunisia and Europe; ongoing; details confidential).
- External expert for high level meeting of civil society leadership in Colombo, Sri Lanka, convened by the Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law, on the security sector oversight (2019).
- Launched report (in English and Ukrainian) on semi-presidentialism to members of the Constitutional Commission of Ukraine in Kyiv at a high-level workshop co-convened by the European Union, the Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law), International IDEA, and the Center of Policy and Legal Reform (Ukraine) (2018).
- Invited participant in Expert Group meetings in Geneva and New York on Transitional Justice and Atrocity Prevention to advise Pablo de Greiff, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence & Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide (2017).
- Served as a senior international scholar in residence at the Academy of the Arab Association of Constitutional Law in Tunis, leading seminars and working intensively with emerging constitutional experts from across the Arab region on the relationship between security sector reform and constitutional transitions (2016).
- Participated in an expert consultation co-convened by the Center for Policy Alternatives (Sri Lanka) and International IDEA to advise Prime Minster Wickremesinghe on constitutional reform, including meeting personally with the Prime Minister to brief him on the results of our consultation (2015).
- Co-chaired a two-day international meeting in Brussels to present the preliminary results of the Dealing with Territorial Cleavages in Constitutional Transitions project, in cooperation with the European Union External Action Service and hosted by the European Union Committee of Regions, attended by nearly 100 representatives of multilateral organizations (including the United Nations), regional organizations, MFAs, ODAs, NGOs, and technical advisors (2015).
- Co-chaired an international meeting of experts from Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, North America and Western Europe at the Canadian embassy in Tunis, in partnership with International IDEA, for the Security Sector Oversight: Protecting Democratic Consolidation From Authoritarian Backsliding & Partisan Abuse project, to explore legal and institutional mechanisms for security sector oversight in transitional democracies (2014).
- Co-chaired an international meeting of experts from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, North America and Western Europe at the Canadian embassy in the Hague, in partnership with International IDEA, for the Security Sector Reform & Constitutional Transitions In Emerging Democracies project, to explore the role of security sector reform in constitutional reform processes (2014).
- Directed the Constitutional Transitions Clinic (at the New York University School of Law), that deployed 40 student researchers from 11 countries stationed in the United States, Beirut, Cairo and Tunis to support International IDEA’s Middle East constitution building program; produced six technical reports (in English and Arabic) on constitutional design in the Middle East and North Africa, jointly published by International IDEA, CT, and (for three reports) UNDP, and served as the lead author on these reports; made two missions to Tunisia with the research team to present draft reports and consult President Marzouki, legal experts, parliamentarians with responsibility for the constitutional process, academic experts, civil society, and university students (2012 to 2014).
- Member of a joint Egyptian-international expert group, convened by International IDEA in cooperation with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, to review a draft of the Egyptian constitution in Cairo (2013).
- Drafted a report for International IDEA on design options for the Libyan constitutional process (prior to the election of the Constitutional Assembly of Libya), which addressed possible mechanisms to coordinate the work of the Constitutional Assembly and the General National Congress (GNC), and led a workshop in Tripoli with members of the GNC to review and discuss these options (2012 to 2013).
- Engaged parliamentarians, civil society, and the diplomatic community in a public lecture, invitational workshop and private sessions, in Colombo, on power-sharing options (including electoral system design and executive powers) for Sri Lanka (2012).
- Participated as international expert in workshop convened by International IDEA to review a draft of the 2011 Jordanian constitutional amendments in Beirut (2012).
- Served on a team providing technical advice on the redesign of Nepal’s judicial system to adapt it to a federal structure through consultations with the legal profession and judiciary, in support of the Nepal Bar Association; and led workshops on official language rights for the indigenous peoples’ caucus of Nepal’s Constitutional Assembly (hosted by International IDEA), and on the right to self-determination for indigenous peoples under international law (hosted by UNDP) (2010).