CEU launches first Summer Course on Constitution Building in Africa




Course overview

Cross section of classsection of class, ©Markus Boeckenfoerde
Cross section of class ©Markus Boeckenfoerde

Taking into account the apparent wave of constitution building sweeping across Africa: Kenya and Zimbabwe (recently completed), and Ghana, Liberia, Libya, South Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe (on-going), the Central European University (CEU) Summer School hosted an intensive one week course titled Constitution Building in Africa from June 24-June 29. The first of a project that will run every summer, the course addressed complex societal, political and legal problems in constitution-building in Africa from an interdisciplinary perspective, informed by field experience.


Among the range of issues explored were:

  • The general question of constitutionalism in Africa,
  • The different roles and meanings of a constitution,
  • The merits and risks of constitutional borrowing,
  • The role of external / international influence in constitution building,
  • Practical aspects and challenges  of constitutional design and implementation in practical working groups


Course participants


Group Photo (c)Markus Boeckenfoerde
Group Photo ©Markus Boeckenfoerde

The course brought together 28 participants, most of whom are based in Africa and working for various international and local non-governmental organizations involved in constitution building process across the continent from Zimbabwe through Kenya, Liberia up to Tunisia; as well as doctoral and post doc fellows stude with research interest in constitution building in Africa.


Facilitators and Faculty

The faculty was a rich mix of seasoned practitioners and academics in comparative constitution building and comparative constitutional law. They included:

  • Prof Yash Pal Ghai (fmr Chair of the Commission on the Review of the Constitution of Kenya and Fiji Constitutional Commission)
  • Prof. Christina Murray ( fmr member of Kenya’s Committee of Experts on the Constitution)
  • Prof. Jill  Cottrell, (Former Adviser to the East Timor and Nepal Constitution building processes)
  • Prof. Charles Fombad, (University of Pretoria)
  • Prof Renata Uitz, (Central European University, Course Director)
  • Dr Markus Böckenförde (Centre for Global cooperation Research  and University of Giessen/CEU, Course Director)
  • Gedeon Hessebon(CEU, Course Manager)



Participants received certificates at the end of the course as well as copies of the resource ‘A Practical Guide to Constitution Building’ donated by International IDEA. Due to the excellence, rich experience and enthusiasm of the group, International IDEA, CEU and the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers are exploring possibilities to strengthen sustained exchange and networking among the group.