Prof. Dr. Sami Bostanji

Facolté de Droit et des sciences politiques de Tunis

Sami BostanjiSami BostanjiSami Bostanji

Curriculum Vitae

Sami Bostanji obtained his doctorate degree at the Université de Bourgogne in 2000, with a thesis in the field of Private International Law. In 2003, he successfully completed the Concours national d’agrégation in Private Law.

Botanji is Professor at the Faculty for Law and Political Science at the University of Tunis. He further teaches at the Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II) as part of the LL.M. course on the economic law of Arab countries. Moreover, over the course of the past years, he has held teaching obligations as visiting scholar at further faculties of law in France, including Tours, Dijon and Toulouse.

Bostanji is member of the Société de legislation comparée, co-director of the DRIMAN project (Laboratoire de droit des relations internationales des marchés et des négociations) and vice-president of the Tunisian chapter of the Association Henri Capitant des amis de la culture juridique française. Furthermore, he is a member of the Committee for the European-Arab Dialogue at the European Court of Arbitration.

Bostanji’s research interests lie in the area of Private International Law, International Trade Law and the legal systems of Arab countries.

Prof. Dr. Sami Bostanji was Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” from February to August 2012.

Research Project

The secularization of legal norms in the law of Arab countries

Upon closer inspection, the commonplace division into secularized and non-secularized societies proves reductionist. For the true importance of the social acts of those actors, who seek emancipation from the religious, cannot be properly appraised this way. If one understands “secularization” as a “process, through which areas of society and culture are removed from the authority of religious institutions and symbols”, it emerges, that the complexity of social reality cannot be adequately described with this concept.

The complexity of the phenomenon of secularization becomes clear when carefully examining the positive law of Arab countries. While Muslim law has certainly been placed under the care of religion over centuries, the traditional legal model is much more multifaceted than common perception would suggest. Due to the scarce number of legal prescriptions in the Koran, the bulk of the legal corpus has, de facto, been created by legal scholars, who were primarily concerned with finding rational solutions tailored to social reality. The subsequent sacralization of their proffered solutions then represented a convenient means to the legal scholars of legitimizing their work through the masses and lending it the desired longevity. Thus, despite the clear presence of human influence on the construction of the legal framework, Muslim law has been represented as purely religious for centuries.

This situation noticeably changed in the course of the 19thcentury. At that time, a multiple change announced itself, which brought with it an emancipation of the law of Arab countries. One could witness a veritable aggiornamento, changing the instances of creation of law and simultaneously affecting the conception and application of law. Spurred by the reform movement, consolidated during the colonial phase, and largely implemented by the Arab countries in the course of attaining independence, this change of secularization of law paved the way in these societies. Seen from this angle, religion lost the all-encompassing function it had theretofore always held in Arab-Muslim society. Under the influence of Western paradigms, the traditional model of law was seriously jolted, both at its base, and in its form and methodology.

Yet as real as this progress of secularization may be, it remains hindered and incomplete, as clearly evidenced by the current positive law of Arab countries. For it reveals attempts to obfuscate the process of secularization in the politico-legal domain. Additionally, compensatory measures target at the creation of a counterweight to the secularizing traits of change, by reinforcing and multiplying the remaining elements of the old order. All these facets emphasize the particularity of the secularization process within the Arab legal systems.

The project aims to empirically grasp the most pertinent aspects of this change and to examine and illustrate its reasons, causes, and effects. It thereby, finally, intends to critically appraise its development potential vis-à-vis the profound transformations the Arab countries are currently undergoing in the course of the recent revolutions.


La Sharia’a est-elle l’unique source du droit dans les pays arabes? Sao Paulo, septembre 2004, in ouvrage collectif brésilien intitulé „Dialogue Amérique du Sud – Pays Arabes“, sous la direction de Heloïsa Vihena de Araujo, Brasilia, 2005, pp 81 et s.

Variations sur la notion d’étranger, Rapport introductif au colloque, „L’étranger dans tous ses états“, Colloque organisé par l’Unité de recherche droit des relations internationales à la Faculté de droit et des sciences politiques de Tunis, les 3, 4 et 5 février 2005, in Ouvrage collectif sous la direction de F.Horchani et S.Bostanji, 2006, pp 5 et s.

L’incidence de la Constitution sur les nouvelles solutions de conflits de lois (Etude de droit international privé de la famille), in Mouvements du droit contemporain, Mélanges offerts à Sassi BEN HALIMA, CPU, 2005, pp 281 et s.

Confrontation des sources du droit privé: le Code des obligations et des contrats à l’épreuve des législations spéciales, in Ouvrage du Centenaire du Code tunisien des obligations et des contrats, CPU, 2006, pp 535 et s.

Turbulences dans l’application judiciaire du Code tunisien du statut personnel: le conflit de référentiels dans l’œuvre prétorienne, Revue Internationale de Droit Comparé, I, 2009.   

Les survivances du communautarisme dans l’application judiciaire du droit international privé tunisien, Revue critique de droit international privé, 2009, n°2, pp 251 et s.

La guerre de l’article premier n’aura pas lieu (Réflexions à propos de la notion d’Etat civil), Octobre 2011, in: