Summary report: Conference on the Implementation of Modern African Constitutions: Challenges and Prospects

Summary report: Conference on the Implementation of Modern African Constitutions: Challenges and Prospects

This conference organized by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung under the auspices of its Rule of Law Program for Sub-Saharan Africa, in collaboration with the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa, sought to provide a better understanding of the challenges to constitutional implementation in Africa so as to draw attention to the causes of regression in constitutionalism and endeavour to suggest solutions to the same.

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The conference brought together law makers, legal practitioners, constitutional activists, judges, civil society representatives, and constitutional law scholars drawn from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Gambia, Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, DRC, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and South Sudan.

Opening Session

Professor André Boraine, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria, commenced the proceedings with the welcoming remarks. He pointed out that the academia, law faculties in particular, should endeavor to teach all subjects through the lenses of the constitution as one of the ways to entrench constitutionalism. He opined that this would in effect make the constitution a living document, since the reference point of teaching would appreciate the constitutional implications that each area of law has on people’s daily lives.

On his part, Dr. Arne Wulff, Director of the Rule of Law Program of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung reiterated the importance of implementing the constitution so as to ensure that people’s desires and aspirations as espoused in those constitutions are realized. He observed that a good constitution on paper without constitutionalism was in effect, worthless!

Professor Charles Fombad, set the tone of the meeting by giving an overview of the challenges facing several African countries in the implementation of their constitutions and hoped that the meeting would help in crafting solutions to reverse the situation.