Budapest, Hungary

Constitution-building in Africa

when 28 June 2021 - 7 July 2021
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 2 EC
fee EUR 500

History has seen several waves of constitution-building in 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 after the Cold War, the world is witnessing another wave of constitution-building, this time predominately in Africa. This burst of activity has given rise to a range of new ideas about the nature and purpose of constitutions and constitution-making, constitutional solutions to contemporary problems, and the proper role of international actors.
The two-week research course intends to tackle complex societal, political, and legal problems in constitution-building from an interdisciplinary perspective, informed by field experience. 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 classic subject of the highest academic and practical relevance.

The course will address the subject from four different angles, all of them related to specific challenges in Africa. The first one highlights constitutionalism in Africa in general, the different roles and meanings of a constitution, the merits and risks of constitutional borrowing, and the role of external/international influence in constitution building. The second angle accounts for the fact that new constitutions often follow conflict, loaded with the expectation to herald a new era of peace and democracy, leaving behind authoritarianism, despotism, or political upheaval. The third angle of, the course addresses how constitutional designs respond to competing claims, be they religious, ethnic, linguistic, and how they accommodate different stakeholders, how they tame the executive, introducing instruments of checks and balances, and how constitutions aspire to prevent stalemates and promote gender equality. Finally taking into account the fact that the management of constitutional change and maintenance of constitutional stability are ongoing problems, the course will explore the issue of constitutional implementation, review, and redemption as part of the constitutional building process.

Course leader

Markus Böckenförde, Department of Legal Studies, Central European University, Vienna, Austria
Renata Uitz, Comparative Constitutional Law Program, Department of Legal Studies, Central European University, Vienna, Austria

Target group

Applications are invited from graduate students, post-docs, professors, civil servants, consultants, and AU- and UN-officers working on constitutional building in Africa and with prior knowledge of the field. Undergraduates without a university degree will not be considered.

Prior knowledge of the field is required, field experience is an advantage.

Course aim

The course is designed to be a forum for exchange and mutual learning for young scholars and practitioners from the civil sector, from public administration, from regional and international institutions.

Credits info

2 EC
CEU Summer University awards a certificate of attendance upon successful completion of the course as well as ECTS credits.

Fee info

EUR 500: Early-bird until April 30
EUR 550: Regular until May 28


Financial aid is available in the following categories:
• tuition waiver
• accommodation grant
• travel grant (full or partial)