Constitutional Studies Centre
About the Centre
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.
Vision and Reasons for creation
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.
The Centre aims at working as a leading platform with other centres that work in the same area or an area related to it. The NCSC will also be able to act as a leading institution when it comes to summer and/or winter schools, fellowships and scholarly work within the MENA region.
Dr. Sanaa Alsarghali is the first Palestinian female holding a PhD in Constitutional Law in Palestine from Lancaster University. She also holds an LLM in law from Durham University and a BA in Law from An-Najah University.
Sanaa was awarded a full scholarship from An-Najah University to study constitutional Law in order to participate in the constitutional building in Palestine after her return. Her PhD thesis focused on the presidential concentration of powers within the Palestinian Basic Law. She is a strong believer of the need for an active constitutional court in Palestine that could guarantee the application of any future suggestions related to the Basic Law or the future constitution.
Sanaa is an Annenberg Oxford Media Policy Institute’s alumni. In 2016 she was elected as the Chairwoman of TAM, an NGO that intends to change the stereotypical image of the Palestinian women in the Media.This makes Sanaa the youngest Chairwoman of an active NGO in Palestine. Previously, she worked as a TV presenter in Al Fajer TV local station. Her social and political talk show 'Tam Time' was screened on the Palestinian National TV for two years. Sanaa also helped in producing several documentary movies that focus on the protection of social rights.