Pretoria, 25 - 26 April 2024

The Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA) of the Faculty of Law,The Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA) of the Faculty of Law,University of Pretoria, in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), RegionalProgramme Political Dialogue for Sub-Sahara Africa based in Johannesburg, South Africa, arepleased to announce this call for papers on the theme, “Party constitutionalisation andconstitutionalism in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

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 A fundamental requirement for the existence of a modern representative democracy is the presenceA fundamental requirement for the existence of a modern representative democracy is the presenceof political parties which are allowed to compete for political power. Accordingly, state institutions,structures, organisations and legal frameworks need to be designed in a way in which they not onlyempower political parties to compete but also protect them against partisan manipulation aimed atpreventing fair competition. Although it therefore seems almost impossible to properly understandthe functioning of different institutional arrangements without a close attention to the party system inwhich they operate, political parties have so far gained only limited attention in the global discourseon constitutions and constitutionalism.

One of the most significant changes that marked the advent of the third wave of democratisation inAfrica in the 1990s was the formal constitutional recognition of party pluralism in almost all Africanconstitutions. While these reforms may well have marked the end of the one-party era, theireffectiveness in promoting free, fair and open competition has depended very much on, among otherthings, the nature and extent of the constitutional entrenchment of the rights and obligations ofpolitical parties and the way it is implemented. The question is whether this has been done in a mannerthat promotes democracy, good governance and constitutionalism.

While democratic backsliding is a current phenomenon that can be observed in many parts of theworld, the situation in Africa is particularly worrying. The proliferation of political parties and theexpansion of political space has not brought about genuine democracy or political stability. Evidenceof an authoritarian mobilisation and resurgence is clearly apparent in the declining quality ofdemocratic elections and governance in the last two decades. At this critical stage when the risks of areturn to the pre-1990 era of repressive authoritarian regimes is high, there is need to review thedevelopments of the last three decades of multipartyism. Some preliminary research on partyconstitutionalisation suggests that the legal framework that paved the way for democratisation in theearly 1990s is not sufficiently robust to ensure a credible and sustainable system of multipartydemocracy in which opposition parties and ruling parties can compete on an equal basis.

We hereby invite all scholars and other persons interested in research in this area to submit a proposalon the broad theme of the constitutionalisation of political parties in Sub-Saharan Africa and theimpact this has had on democracy and constitutionalism. The paper proposals can fall within or cutacross any of the following four sub-themes:

1 International standards and global trends

Broad international and global trends in the constitutionalisation of political parties that may haveinfluenced post-1990 developments in Sub-Saharan Africa.

2 General context

Historical overview and evolution of political party constitutionalisation in Sub-Saharan Africa andstandards set by the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities.

3. Comparative studies on the constitutional framework

Comparatives studies on political parties and governments in Sub-Saharan Africa; political partiesand governance in Sub-Saharan Africa; opposition parties in Sub-Saharan Africa: their roles, rightsand recognition; and political parties, gender and governance in Sub-Saharan Africa.

4. Country case studies

In-depth country cases studies on political party constitutionalisation in anglophone African countries(e.g., Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zimbabwe),francophone African countries (e.g., Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Rwanda,Senegal) or lusophone and hispanophone African countries (e.g., Angola, Mozambique, EquatorialGuinea).

Case studies should address the following aspects:

  • The constitutional and statutory regulatory framework in place: Has this provided an impartialand neutral framework for people to freely join or form political parties?
  • Does the regulatory framework recognise and protect political parties? Are political partiesinvolved in election matters, e.g., in electoral management bodies?
  • How have political parties evolved since the re-introduction of multipartyism to date? If adominant party exists, to what extent is it able to capture and control state resources?
  • Does the regulatory framework ensure that there is internal democracy within political parties?
  • What are the main regulatory authorities, and have they discharged their functions in anobjective and neutral manner?
  • How does the funding of political parties work – private and/or public?
  • What have been the main challenges that have prevented political parties from playing aneffective role in the governance of the country?
  • What are the prospects for the future and what are the wider implications of these aspects forthe state of democracy?
  • The proposal should include an abstract of the paper of about 1,000 words and a CV of the author.The deadline for submitting proposals is 15 January 2024.

Proposals should be sent as e-mail attachment to

Dr. Johannes Socher
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Prof. Charles M. Fombad
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On acceptance of an abstract, theauthor will be invited to submit a draft paper on the basis of which a final invitation to the conferencewill be extended. All authors whose papers are accepted will be provided with a return economy classair ticket and board and lodging on the Future for Africa Campus in Pretoria for the duration of theseminar. All the papers presented during the seminar will be peer-reviewed and there are discussionsto have this published in the form of an edited volume by either Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) or by Nomos Publishing in Germany, in its Law and Constitution in Africa book series. All authorswhose papers are accepted for publication will be given an honorarium of USD 300.

Kindly distribute this call for papers widely to all colleagues in your scholarly network.

Prof. Charles M. Fombad
Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA) Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

Dr. Johannes Socher
Postdoctoral Fellow