Comparative constitutional law, Legal studies, Political science

Course date

1 July - 12 July, 2019
14 February, 2019
Course Director(s): 

Markus Böckenförde

Department of Legal Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Gedion Hessebon

School of Law, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Course Faculty: 

Horace S Adjolohoun

African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, Arusha, Tanzania

Jill Cottrell (through video link) - TBC

Katiba Institut, Nairobi, Kenya

Yash Ghai (through video link) - TBC

University of Hong Kong

Omar Hammady

Visiting Researcher at Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany; Advisor to the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen / United Nations Department of Political Affairs

Babacar Kanté

University Gaston Berger, St. Louis, Senegal, Former Vice President of the Constitutional Court of Senegal

Christina Murray

University of Cape Town, South Africa
History has seen several waves of constitution-building in the 20th century with an unparalleled boom starting in the 1990s after the fall of the Berlin wall. And while experts recently announced the end of this boom in new constitutions after the Cold War, the world is witnessing another wave of constitution-building, this time predominately in Africa. This burst of activity has given rise to a range of new ideas about the nature and purpose of constitutions and constitution-making, constitutional solutions to contemporary problems, and the proper role of international actors.
 
The two-week research course intends to tackle complex societal, political and legal problems in constitution-building from an interdisciplinary perspective, informed by field experience. We seek to combine different disciplines (mostly comparative law and political science) and perspectives (comparative governmental systems; electoral systems; decentralization; human rights; comparative constitutional law; good governance; etc) to offer new insights on a classic subject of the highest academic and practical relevance.
 
The course will address the subject from four different angles, all of them related to specific challenges in Africa. The first one highlights constitutionalism in Africa in general, the different roles and meanings of a constitution, the merits and risks of constitutional borrowing, and the role of external / international influence in constitution building. The second angle accounts for the fact that new constitutions often follow conflict, loaded with the expectation to herald a new era of peace and democracy, leaving behind authoritarianism, despotism or political upheaval. The third angle of, the course addresses how constitutional designs respond to competing claims, be they religious, ethnic, linguistic, and how they accommodate different stakeholders, how they tame the executive, introducing instruments of checks and balances and how constitutions aspire to prevent stalemates and promote gender equality. Finally taking in to account the fact that the management of constitutional change and maintenance of constitutional stability are ongoing problems, the course will explore the issue of constitutional implementation, review and redemption as part of the constitutional building process.
 
The course is designed to be a forum for exchange and mutual learning for practitioners of constitutional reform and scholars of constitutional change. In previous years participants included members of constitutional review commissions, civil servants, judges, civil society activists, officers from UN-missions and the AU and other intergovernmental organizations as well as academics with an interest in law, government and political science. Our participants and alumni have contributed to an ever growing network of professionals involved in the dynamics of constitution-building in Africa. Many are among the contributors of the recently published volume on “Public Participation in African Constitutionalism” (Routledge).
 
The course syllabus and the schedule are available with the course directors upon request.