An-Najah Constitutional Studies Centre (Hereinafter NCSC) is a new and innovative centre.
The centre focuses particularly on the separation of powers; the scope of legislative, executive, and judicial powers and on the structure of constitutional democracy; the freedoms of speech, gender studies within constitutional agendas, press, and religion. In sum, the centre is devoted to the development of constitutional building in Palestine.
The NCSC grows out of the long and distinguished desire of An-Najah University to create a new form for constitutional law scholarship and studies. It seeks to carry on this ambition through a programme of conferences, lectures, informal “Constitutional Conversations,” and fellowships.
The centre has no politics and takes no sides on controversial cases, but it is committed to the rule of law and the idea that the constitution can be studied and interpreted objectively in light of its text, history, and purposes. It advances this mission through events and activities that foster scholarships, it also generates public discussion, and provides opportunities for students and scholars to engage in analysis of the constitution across the ideological spectrum.
Constitutional law in Palestine is still new and creates a rich area for research. When constitutional law is taught in Palestine, the first line that first year undergraduate students hear is that:
‘The Basic Law is not worth the paper that [it] is written on’.
Hence, law students start studying constitutional law with the idea that their own document is worthless. They do not begin by learning the true meaning of a constitution or the reasons why it is a superior law. They only hear and remember this line, which gives the impression that constitutional law does not matter. For some it may seem that the Basic Law (BL) or any constitutional developments in Palestine are not as pressing compared to the political instability that Palestine is facing, or that there are more immediate matters to build or focus on rather than a constitution. With respect to this view, constitutional law matters; it matters especially in a country that faces a double transition like Palestine; a transition to democracy and a transition to statehood. A constitution may not build a school or educate a child, but it guarantees the right to education and worthy facilities. A constitution also paves the way for the application of these rights. If the constitution only guarantees rights without applying them, then it is worthless in this case.
Through establishing this centre, we aim to change the stereotypical idea of constitutional law in Palestine, and we aim to educate a generation that understands its constitutional rights, duties and freedoms. With the lack of constitutional materials that are easy to read, we aim as well to produce constitutional law articles and books that are easy to read and concerned with the Palestinian Constitutional framework.