Reforming Legal Reform in Francophone Africa: World Bank' Project Experience

78 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2008 Last revised: 13 Mar 2008

Date Written: February 12, 2008


You don't plant water lilies in the desert - The keystone of civilized society is justice. Without justice, neither peace nor development. A prerequisite is the populations' trust in legal institutions: the law and the courts. The alienation of the people with imposed legal institutions is the reason for Francophone Africa's lack of justice. To remedy the situation, this paper proposes to reconnect the people with the law through: (1) respecting local values in Village tribunals; (2) reforming lawmaking to comply with custom, accessible (also) in vernacular languages; (3) accessibility of law through the Internet. It is argued that the people, as client of justice, need to regain control over their law in order to respect it. Only then the necessary change of traditions and values is feasible. Women lawyer associations are identified as agents for such change. To redress modern courts, the paper suggests a concentration of tribunals, a tightening of procedure and rigorous control, in order to foster peer pressure for professionalism. The constitutional values are to serve as common bond.

Keywords: Access to justice, Colonial law, Corruption, Court administration, Culture, Customary law, Drafting, Equality, Fatwa, Africa, Gender, Honor, Human rights, Justice, Law, Institutions, Legal reform, OHADA, Paralegals, Participation, Reform, Tradition, Uniform Acts, Village courts, Worldbank

JEL Classification: K33, K39, K41, K49, L59, Z00, Z10

Suggested Citation

Wabnitz, Hans-Werner, Reforming Legal Reform in Francophone Africa: World Bank' Project Experience (February 12, 2008). Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World Paper No. 08-12, Available at SSRN: or

Hans-Werner Wabnitz (Contact Author)

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