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The Constitutional and Conceptual Underpinnings of Kuwait’s System of Government

AlTerkait, Tahani,N,Y,M,H,M (2017) The Constitutional and Conceptual Underpinnings of Kuwait’s System of Government. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This study investigates the constitutional and conceptual underpinnings of Kuwait’s system of government. The Constitution of Kuwait, which was ratified in 1962, promulgated democracy as its government system; yet curiously, the Constitution lacked any actual explanation of the concept of democracy. Instead, it merely identified the system of government as ‘democratic’, with ‘the people of Kuwait’ as the source of all powers.
To explain what Kuwaiti democracy and its government system truly involve, the study has traced its roots and origins: first, by shedding light on the ruling traditions since Kuwait emerged and flourished as a small city state in the seventeenth century. Second, by demonstrating how the Constitution and its Explanatory Memorandum explain Kuwait’s system of government. Third, by narrating the tale of the Constitution and its ratification in 1962 by the elected members of the Constituent Council.
The study also focuses on the controversial history of the Islamic Sharia clause in the Arab world, reflected in the Minutes of Proceedings of both the Constituent Council and Constitution Committee. In addition, it highlights the evolution of representative councils, encompassing the 1921 Shura Council, the 1938 Legislative Council, and the 1961 Constituent Council; and applies David Held’s classical models of democracy to the theoretical model adopted by scholars of Kuwait constitutional law.
Historical, constitutional and conceptual narratives on democracy lead the research to conclude that Kuwait’s political experience is rich and unique. In the early 1960s, Kuwait successfully withstood all regional challenges to become the first independent, democratic state in a region known for its autocratic regimes. Yet for over half a century since, it has never tackled the constitutional and conceptual shortcomings inherent in its adoption of a hybrid system.
Accordingly, the study finds that the system of government in Kuwait is mixed; with its political system infused with rudimentary features of hereditary, representative, parliamentary and presidential systems, and profoundly influenced by its Arab-Islamic roots.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:PhD, Kuwait, democracy, constitution, SGIA, Durham, Gulf studies, Middle East, Sharia, Islamic Law, GCC, Arabian Peninsula
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 Apr 2018 08:05

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