Those looking for reasons to be despondent over the small-mindedness that seems to infect much Iraqi law and legal practice need look no further than the Regulation of Ceremonies, No. 4 of 2016. The regulation is meant to deal specifically with the etiquette of “ceremonies” (مراسم), and most importantly, preferences and orders of various personages within them. Ceremonies are defined in the Regulation as “Organizational rules and procedures, conduct, order of priority, customs, and traditions, which must be observed in official and diplomatic occasions, through meetings, taking leave, interviews, conferences, meetings, events, assemblies, and visits, and the proper conduct in official correspondence and documentation.”
Just a sampling of the nonsense:
Article 2-In implementing ceremonies, the following shall be observed:
First, the naming of the most important personages in the state and publicly addressing them [i.e. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, and Members of the Cabinet, I welcome you to … .] shall be in accordance with what follows whenever this is appropriate and not a violation of protocol followed in the relationship of the State to other states:
a- The President of the Republic
b-The Prime Minister
c-the Speaker of the House
d-the speaker of the Council of the Federation
e-The Vice Presidents
g-the Vice Minister
2-the ranking is President, then Prime Minister, then Speaker of the House, then President of the Supreme Judicial Council, then the Speaker of the Council of the Federation, then the President of the Region, then the Prime Minister of the Region, then . . . .
3-the priorities upon attending a given ceremony or meeting are the introduction of the Vice Presidents, then the Vice Prime Ministers, then deputy speakers of the House, then the deputy speakers of the Council of the Federation, then the Vice President of the Region, then the Vice Prime Minister of the Region, then . . . .
4-the priority among ministers are the Minister of Foreign Affairs, then the Minister of Finance, then the Minister of Defense, then the Minister of Internal Affairs, then the Minister of Oil, then the first among other ministers based on the date the Ministry was formed, then the heads of the bodies not connected to the Ministry . . . .
Anyway, it goes on like this, for 67 pages. Rewriting the family law into a (failed) draft that would (i) permit men to consummate their marriages to 9 year old girls, (ii) ease restrictions on polygamy, and (iii) require women to enable their husbands to enjoy their bodies at a time of the husband’s choosing, inter alia, took 40 pages. This took almost 50% more space. Particularly amusing is the insistence of sticking in a place for a Council of the Federation, a body that was supposed to be formed in 2006. Twelve years later, no Council, but the good news is that in case it is formed, anyone making a speech in an official delegation will know when to greet its president relative to the others.
If only the saga ended there. Alas, the Federal Supreme Court had to get in on the act recently, and rejected a claim by the Speaker of the House challenging the Regulation issued by the Council of Ministers under the Prime Minister, because, I guess, how dare you place yourself above me in rank! The court’s reasoning emphasized that in fact the list of powers set forth in Article 47 of the Constitution was not on the basis of ranking or preference, but merely as a means of counting to three powers, none of whom were superior to the other. It is quite unclear whether the Court is truly setting forth analysis somehow related to the case, or whether it is instead distracting our attention by treating us to a Schoolhouse Rock lesson in the nature of constitutional government and the separation of powers.
You’d think none of this was worth the time of a court, or a legislature, or an executive, in a country suffering through an existential crisis, but what do I know? I’m too busy writing the Regulation of Protocol for the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. In entering the room for the faculty meeting, first to enter shall be the Dean, then the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, then the Associate Dean of Research, then the Chair of the Steering Committee, until she sues me for disrespecting the principle of faculty governance . . . .