University of Pittsburgh Assistant Professor of Law Haider Ala Hamoudi spoke to students on the Harrisburg campus on Tuesday, March 22nd about the “Challenges of Constitution Making in Iraq.” The talk took place in the Pit and was sponsored by the International Law Students Association, The International Law Students Association Widener Chapter, and the Widener University School of Law Dean of Students
Professor Hamoudi broke down the process of revising a constitution to the most basic level, explaining, “By developing a constitution, the state is effectively saying all the law that existed before is no longer valid and no longer applies.”
He also explained that states generally write a constitution when they are going through a transitional period. During this transitional period there is always an interim process, and the interim process in Iraq was a mess because the participants that wrote the constitutional amendments did not have the authority to enforce the laws and some groups were not well represented. As a result of those faults, when it came time to vote on the amendments to the Constitution there were boycotts during the election. The Americans attempted to fix this by appointing people to serve on the Constitutional Review Committee.
Professor Hamoudi pointed out two major differences in the revised Constitution. The first is the presence of federalism, allowing some provinces and regions to have some concurrent jurisdiction. Second, the role of Islam in the state’s governance has changed.
A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a double major in Physics and Humanities and a Near Eastern Studies Concentration, Professor Hamoudi earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1996. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Constance Baker Motley in the Southern District of New York. Until 2003, he served as an associate at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton.
Professor Hamoudi served as a legal advisor to the Finance Committee of the Iraq Governing Council during 2003 and 2004. He also served as a Program Manager for a project managed by the International Human Rights Law Institute of DePaul University School of Law to improve legal education in Iraq. In 2009, the American Society of Comparative Law awarded him the Hessel Yntema prize for the best article produced in the American Journal of Comparative Law by an author under the age of 40.
On behalf of the United States Embassy in Baghdad, Professor Hamoudi spent most of 2009 advising the Constitutional Review Committee of the Iraqi legislature, which was responsible for developing critical amendments to the Iraq Constitution deemed necessary for Iraqi national reconciliation. He also advised on other key pieces of legislation, including a hydrocarbons law, a revenue management law, and an antitrust law.
Professor Hamoudi is currently working on a book on the drafting and subsequent evolution of the Iraqi Constitution to be published by the University of Chicago Press.