History has seen several waves of constitution-making since the start of 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, constitution-making and remaking have continued, particularly in Africa. In a number of the countries affected by the Arab Spring, constitutional arrangements remain unsettled and contested; Sudan and South Sudan are struggling to start constitution-making processes; and elsewhere in Africa including Somalia, The Gambia, Kenya, and Botswana, constitution-making is high on the political agenda. This activity and struggles to bring constitution-making processes to successful conclusions has given rise to a range of new ideas about the nature and purpose of constitutions and constitution-making, constitutional solutions tailored to local problems, the proper role of international and local actors in the constitution-building process as well as the value of having a dedicated implementation process for a newly adopted constitution. Therefore, we are again offering a summer course on constitution building with a focus on Africa that engages with these problems, building on the experience of nine successful courses organized annually in the SUN framework from 2013.
At its core, the course intends to tackle complex social, political, and legal problems in constitution-building from an interdisciplinary perspective, informed by field experience. In order to understand and contextualize practitioners’ experiences, 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 subject of the highest academic and practical relevance.
The course will address the subject from four different angles, each related to specific challenges of constitution-building in Africa:
- The first highlights constitutionalism in Africa in general, the different roles and meanings of a constitution, the merits and risks of constitutional borrowing, the role of external/international influence, and the purpose of public participation in constitution building. Running over two weeks, the course permits comparative insight (covering Anglophone and Francophone Africa and the Maghreb), an element that has been requested by our faculty and welcomed by participants in the past. An exercise mapping constitution-making processes in a range of African countries and intense exchange with participants permit cross-country learning and enable us to place regional developments in a broader political and economic context.
- The second angle accounts for the fact that new constitutions often follow conflict which has particular implications for the process of constitution building. In post-conflict contexts, constitution-making is accompanied by high expectations of a new era of peace and democracy, leaving authoritarianism, despotism, and political upheaval behind. Post-conflict constitutions are often deals, however, and managing expectations in this context is difficult. Despite the existence of (and need for) elite deals, post-conflict constitution-making processes usually aspire to be inclusive. Whether the inclusiveness indeed ensures that the expectations of the people are met and creates ownership instead of disappointment is worth analyzing. In addition, a two-step approach with an interim document followed by a permanent solution is increasingly common in post-conflict peace negotiations. The course will explore the risks and opportunities of this approach. Finally, in the context of post-conflict constitution-making, the course will reflect on experiences with several protracted constitutional review processes in Africa.
- The third angle of the course addresses how constitutional design can (or attempts to) respond to specific (and sometimes competing) interests and needs, be they political, religious, ethnic, or linguistic. The course will pay special attention to how new African constitutions attempt to accommodate different stakeholders, tame the executive, strengthen checks and balances, prevent stalemates, and prevent the self-perpetuation of constitutional actors through constitutional review processes. The experience of previous years shows that our participants are particularly interested in constitutional solutions promoting gender equality and social justice and managing religious diversity. We will also consider the way climate change can be (and is being) addressed in constitution-making processes. As in previous courses, we will cover these issues through interactive group projects, that draw out the experience of practitioners taking part in conflict management.
- Finally, taking into account the fact that the management of constitutional change and maintenance of constitutional stability are ongoing challenges, the course will explore constitutional implementation and review. Again, drawing on the experience of the past decades and of participants in the course, we hope to shed light on key lessons and explore new approaches.
Applications are invited from scholars (university faculty, post-docs, Ph.D. students, and, exceptionally, other graduate students) with experience in the field and practitioners (judges, civil servants, civil society activists, consultants, officers of international/regional organizations such as the UN, AU, ECOWAS, etc.) working on constitutional building in Africa and with prior knowledge of the field.
Prior knowledge of the field is required, and field experience is an advantage.
The language of instruction is English; thus, all applicants have to demonstrate a strong command of spoken and written English to be able to participate actively in discussions at seminars and workshops. Some of the shortlisted applicants may be contacted for an interview.
The course will focus on the following discipline areas:
- Comparative constitutional law
- Applied political science
"The course has helped me first and foremost through gathering knowledge about other constitution-making processes enabling me to identify patterns leading to success or failure and what to avoid if I had to be involved in another constitution-making process."
"This course was well-tailored to some of the underlying causes of disagreements and division in Africa, especially on matters of law. It also allowed me to understand some of the constraints facing democratic reforms processes as well as difficulties in implementing some of the constitutional changes."
"The course was useful in providing a building block for me in terms of the constitutional amendment that is happening in the country and as a scholar on how to provide the country with direction in this area. The course opened my mind to always look at other jurisdictions and compare constitutional building processes."
"The course content is very diversified and was presented by different experts from all over the world. This, in turn, has helped us in gaining new perspectives and exposure to the constitution-making process in different countries in Africa."
Please read the following directions carefully.
Below is the list of the documents you need to prepare or arrange for submission:
- Completed online SUN Application Form (see notes below)
- Full curriculum vitae or resume, including a list of publications, if any.
Please upload your Curriculum Vitae or resume, including a list of publications, if any.
- Statement of purpose (max. 1 page)
In the Statement of Purpose, please describe how the course is relevant to your teaching, research, or professional work, and in what way you expect to benefit from it. Please list relevant courses in the field you have taken previously during your studies and/or relevant practical experience you have made. In addition, you are requested to provide titles of two books, articles, or readings of interest which you would like to see discussed in the course. In addition to the titles, please provide a brief explanation of your recommendation.
Please provide the name, contact email, and phone number of a person (a faculty member, job supervisor, etc.) who can be contacted by the course directors to attest to your abilities, qualifications, and academic/professional performance.
- Recent English language publication/project description on constitution-building or constitutionalism in Africa
Please submit a recent, forthcoming, or draft publication, OR a description of an ongoing professional project on constitution-building or constitutionalism in Africa. If the project is an institutional or a group effort, please explain your role in designing and implementing the project.
- Personal Statement on Financial Aid
Those who are eligible and wish to apply for financial aid should specify their reasons in the “Personal statement on financial aid” section (Funding page of the application form).
You can upload further optional documents on the Qualifications page such as academic documents that you think may be relevant to support your application in the 'Other Supporting Documents' section. All documents should be merged into a single PDF file not exceeding the size 2 MB. No passwords and encryption are allowed.
Completed CEU Summer University Application Form
We strongly advise the use of Google Chrome to enable the full functionality of the form.
- You may apply to a maximum of two summer courses. In case of being admitted, you can only attend both if the two courses do not overlap in time.
- If you applied to CEU before, please use your existing login and password to start a new application. If you do not remember your password from last year click on Forgotten Password. With technical problems, bugs, or errors related to the online application forms please contact the CEU IT Help Desk.
- Right after login, please select the ”Summer University” radio button from the "Type of course" list, and leave all other fields empty.
- All application materials must be submitted with the online application form(s). Materials sent by postal mail, electronic mail, or fax are not considered.
- The maximum allowable file size for upload is 2MB per file and the acceptable file formats are PDF, JPG, and JPEG. Ensure all security features (e.g. passwords and encryption) are removed from the documents before uploading them.
- Applications cannot be edited after submission. Please submit your application only when it is 100% final and complete.
- Further user instructions for the online application are included in the form itself. Should you have questions regarding the application form, check the relevant Frequently Asked Questions.
- Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
If you need help or more information during the application process, please feel free to contact the SUN staff via email.
The SUN Office will notify applicants about the selection results in April. Please check the 'Dates and deadlines' section on the relevant course websites for notification deadlines planned earlier or later. The final decision is not open to appeal.