Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa: Preventing Civil War through Institutional Design

Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa: Preventing Civil War through Institutional Design

Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa: Preventing Civil War through Institutional Design

Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa: Preventing Civil War through Institutional Design

Synopsis

Each of Africa's countries has a different constitutional design, is characterized by a unique culture and history, and faces different stresses that threaten to undermine political stability. Presenting the first database of constitutional design in all African countries, along with seven original case studies, Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa explores the types of domestic political institutions that can buffer societies from destabilizing changes that otherwise increase the risk of violence.

With detailed comparative studies of Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, contributing scholars identify key turning points at which a state's political institutions either mitigated or escalated the effects of economic, environmental, demographic, and political shocks. They find that stability can be promoted by various constitutional designs--not only by accommodative institutions that encourage decentralization and multiculturalism, but also by the integrative, centralized designs that characterize the constitutions of most African countries. The greatest danger may arise from partial or inequitable accommodation that can exacerbate societal tensions, culminating in violence up to and including civil war and genocide. Accordingly, Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa cautions against the typical international prescription for radical reform to replace Africa's existing constitutions with accommodative designs, instead prescribing more gradual constitutional reform to strengthen liberal institutions, such as strong judiciaries and independent electoral commissions. This detailed and methodical volume provides vital lessons for fostering democracy and reducing civil conflict via constitutional reform in Africa and beyond.

Contributors : Justin Orlando Frosini, Gilbert M. Khadiagala, Alan J. Kuperman, Karly Kupferberg, Eli Poupko, Eghosa E. Osaghae, Andrew Reynolds, Filip Reyntjens, Arame Tall, Hillary Thomas-Lake, Stefan Wolff, I. William Zartman.

Excerpt

Alan J. Kuperman

Can deadly internal conflict be prevented, or at least significantly reduced, by changing a country’s domestic political institutions? This might seem an obvious and important question, especially for Africa, which recently has suffered the most such violence—in Rwanda, Congo, Darfur, and elsewhere. Yet, this continental puzzle has never before been addressed in a rigorous, comparative manner.

This volume, by the Constitutional Design and Conflict Management (CDCM) project, is the first such effort. As with any initial attempt to address a question of such enormous scope, the methodological challenges are substantial and the findings can be only tentative—but they are nevertheless intriguing. the book approaches the subject in three steps. First, it assembles seven of the world’s leading experts on constitutional design, conflict management, and African politics. Each of these scholars presents a detailed case study of an African country, identifying how at key turning points the domestic political institutions either mitigated—or exacerbated—political instability and violence. These studies provide vital lessons about the types of domestic political institutions—or “constitutional design”—that are best for peacefully managing conflict. Second, the book presents the first database of constitutional design in all African countries. This new resource reveals that most African countries have highly centralized and integrative political institutions, which many experts previously have said fosters conflict. Third, the book brings together these two pieces of the puzzle—comparing the political . . .

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