Constitution Building in Africa

Course Description: 

History has seen several waves of constitution-building in the 20th Century with an unparalleled bloom starting in the 1990ies after the fall of the Berlin wall. And while experts recently announced the end of this bloom in new constitutions after the Cold War, the world witnesses another wave of constitution-building, this time predominately in Africa. Quite prominent are the current dynamics in the Maghreb as a result of the Arab spring. Less visible, but also very vivid are the processes in Sub-Saharian Africa, recently in Kenya, Zimbabwe, presently in Ghana, South Sudan, and Somalia and prospectively in Botswana, and other countries.
The course offers the exciting opportunity to explore the meaning and relevance of (constitutional) law in context. It addresses the subject of constitution building from different angles, all of them related to specific challenges in Africa. Among others it focuses on:
-historical pre-settings and their present relevance in constitution building processes on the continent;
-the relevance and the impact of different forms of participation in constitution building processes;
-design options for pertinent challenges in Africa, such as: the executive branch and the phenomena of imperial presidencies / the accommodation and integration of different ethnicities / traditional authorities, cultural values, constitutionalism;
-African constitutionalism beyond national borders: the role of regional organizations and programmes.

Learning Outcomes: 

The area of Constitution-Building is a multifaceted and diverse terrain offering a unique insight in the role, opportunities and limitations of law in a given context. The aim of the course is to explore this exciting terrain from different angels and to understand the complexity of the matter. It invites students to gain an overview over this area and offers fresh perspectives to constitutional challenges in Africa.


Grading policy:  General participation: 10%

Grading components based on the assignments: 10%

Written exams are 12 hours take home exams (open books, internet research permitted).