Africanization of Constitutional Law
iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 227 (2020)
Forthcoming in Comparative Constitutional Law in Africa (ed. A. Abebe, R. Dixon & T. Ginsburg) Edward Elgar Press
39 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2021
Date Written: December 17, 2020
This chapter tells a brief story about how, despite a highly contested trajectory, a strong enough consensus ultimately emerged at the African continental level to actively address and eventually also prevent constitutional crises within African Union (AU) member states. It emphasises how these efforts are resulting in a unique form of continental legal integration through a gradual yet fragile harmonization of constitutional frameworks among African states under the co-direction of the AU. In other words, this chapter traces and explains the contestations and fragmentations associated with the process of an Africanization of constitutional law. It describes how increased holistic thinking at the continental level about the interrelated nature of various challenges witnessed in the African constitutional governance landscape is steadily reflected in the nature and scope of a variety of AU legal, institutional and policy frameworks. The chapter notes how the expansion of the web of AU actors and their respective mandates has resulted in a proliferation of diverse continental encounters with national implementation partners of the AU’s constitutional agenda. However, it also observes that the effects of these continental-constitutional encounters remain largely understudied. While the chapter underscores the varying acceptance of the AU’s constitutional agenda throughout the African continent and across different subject matters, it also highlights the shifting imaginaries held at the continental level about constitutional rule, the indeterminacies underlying the notion itself and the different risks associated with those indeterminacies. From the above the key argument underlying this chapter can easily be deduced: constitutional law in Africa is increasingly becoming a terrain of continental struggle in its own right.
Keywords: African Union, African Constitutional Law, Constitution Building, Law and Development, International Sanctions
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