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Journal of Democracy 14.3 (2003) 13

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Transition to Democracy Report

The "Transition to Democracy Report" excerpted in the following pages is the product of discussions at two meetings of the Democratic Principles Working Group of the Iraqi opposition. Held in Cobham, England, in the autumn of 2002, these meetings were part of a "Future of Iraq" project convened by the U.S. Department of State. The aim of the project was to bring together Iraqi experts in different fields who could formulate plans for Iraq on the proverbial "day after." Separate meetings were held on specialized topics—transitional justice and reform of the legal system, the economy, and the environment, among others. It soon became apparent that there also needed to be an umbrella working group that would elaborate the constitutional principles of a democratic Iraq. Accordingly, the Democratic Principles Working Group was established.

The 32 participants in the Working Group were intended to be broadly representative and included members of some of the key groups opposing Saddam Hussein, as well as independents active in the Iraqi opposition. The majority of the participants were exiles; apart from those coming from Iraq's Kurdish north, it was obviously not possible for internal opponents of Saddam to attend. At the first meeting of the Working Group, it was decided to launch task forces on:
1) transitional issues; 2) human rights and the rule of law; 3) civil society and democratization; and 4) federalism. A Coordinating Committee representing the four task forces prepared the first draft of the Report; this draft was presented at a subsequent meeting of the whole Working Group; the Coordinating Committee then met again to discuss the comments submitted by the Working Group; and a subsequent draft was prepared and circulated to the Working Group for comments and objections. Ultimately, the Report was finalized, with all the comments and dissenting opinions appended to it. The full text of the Report may be found at

The Report essentially provides a "road map" for the establishment of democracy in Iraq, laying out a leading role for the Iraqi opposition in instituting a transitional government and a constituent assembly. The U.S. government chose not to tie its options with respect to the future of Iraq solely to the Iraqi opposition, however, and certain of the Report's ideas have been simply ignored. In other cases, the Report's proposals were overtaken by the rush of events. But in many important areas, including de-Ba'athification, the restructuring of the military and security services, and the reform of the judiciary, the coalition governing Iraq appears to be adopting and implementing some of the Report's recommendations.


—Salem Chalabi
Democratic Principles Working Group, 1 June 2003



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