Journal Article

Africa's “constitutionalism revival”: False start or new dawn?

H. Kwasi Prempeh

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 5, issue 3, pages 469-506
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icon/mom016
Africa's “constitutionalism revival”: False start or new dawn?

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Several African states have implemented democratic and liberal constitutional reforms during the last two decades. Regime change, the ending of decades of autocratic rule, and the emergence of independent courts are among the important changes produced by these reforms. Yet Africa's “constitutional moment” has not received the scholarly attention it deserves. With the notable exception of South Africa, African nations continue to lie largely outside the mainstream of contemporary comparative constitutional discourse. This article traces the origins, and examines the scope, content and shortcomings, of the recent “constitutionalism revival” in Africa. Against the backdrop of the continent's postcolonial history of “constitutions without constitutionalism,” the article identifies important transformative currents in contemporary Africa that suggest the dawn of a new era; nonetheless, it notes how the persistence of certain constitutive and regressive elements of the ancien régime continues to define and bedevil African constitutional politics.

Journal Article.  16401 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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