Author: David L. Phillips, Executive Director, The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity
Council on Foreign Relations Press
Council Special Report No. 6
Iraq's election on January 30 was an important step in the country's political transition.
Still it is essential to keep a sense of perspective. In a democracy, power is distributed among an executive, a legislature, and an independent judiciary at the federal level; between the center and the local or provincial level; and between the state and the individual citizen, who must enjoy basic rights. All this comes from laws and institutions, not elections. Drafting and gaining the necessary support for a new Iraqi constitution from Iraq's minorities and not just its Shi'a majority will prove far more difficult and, if achieved, far more significant than anything accomplished to date.
This report by David Phillips examines the core concerns of Iraq's constituencies. It also provides recommendations on power-sharing arrangements, governance structures, individual and group rights, and a role for the United States and the United Nations in the constitution-making process. Iraqis face difficult decisions. I hope this report contributes to a process of achieving compromise and consent.
To submit a letter in response to a Council Special Report for publication on our website, CFR.org, you may send an email to CSReditor@cfr.org. Alternatively, letters may be mailed to us at:
Council on Foreign Relations
58 East 68th Street
New York, NY 10065
Letters should include the writer's name, postal address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published online. Please do not send attachments. All letters become the property of the Council on Foreign Relations and will not be returned. We regret that, owing to the volume of correspondence, we cannot respond to every letter.
David L. Phillips is a senior fellow and deputy director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition to his current position at the Council, Phillips is a visiting scholar at Harvard University 's Center for Middle East Studies, and a scholar in residence and director of the Program on Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding at American University 's Center for Global Peace. He has worked extensively on Iraq issues since 1988, when he served as president of the Congressional Human Rights Foundation. From 1999–2003, Phillips was a senior adviser to the U.S. Department of State Bureau for European and Canadian Affairs and a foreign affairs expert at the Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs. He was the architect and facilitator of the Democratic Principles Working Group, which was part of the interagency Future of Iraq Project. During the Iraq War, Phillips was an analyst for NBC News. He has published extensively on Iraq and its environs in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and Foreign Affairs.He is the author of Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco (Westview Press/Perseus Books Group, 2005).
Subscribe to the Preventive Action Update
CFR experts investigate the impact of information and communication technologies on security, privacy, and international affairs.
Receive Blog Posts by Email
Elliott Abrams gives his take on the Middle East and on democracy and human rights issues across the globe.
Receive Blog Posts by Email
Ashley's War tells the poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers in Afghanistan. More
Smith's insightful book explores the policy issues testing the Japanese government as it tries to navigate its relationship with an advancing China. More
This revolutionary new look at volatility and crisis in oil markets explores the conditions in which oil supply fears arise, gain popularity, and eventually wane. More
View Complete List
Independent Task Force Reports
2014 Annual Report
Highlights From 2013–2014
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass.
Read and download »
Now Available: Foreign Policy Begins at Home
New Foreign Affairs eBook: Tiananmen and After