Public Participation in African Constitutionalism: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Public Participation in African Constitutionalism

1st Edition

Edited by Tania Abbiate, Markus Böckenförde, Veronica Federico


318 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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During the last decade of the 20th century, Africa has been marked by a "constitutional wind" which has blown across the continent giving impetus to constitutional reforms designed to introduce constitutionalism and good governance. One of the main features of these processes has been the promotion of public participation, encouraged by both civil society and the international community.

This book aims to provide a systematic overview of participation forms and mechanisms across Africa, and a critical understanding of the impact of public participation in constitution-making processes, digging beneath the rhetoric of public participation as being at the heart of any successful transition towards democracy and constitutionalism. Using case studies from Central African Republic, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the book investigates various aspects of participatory constitution making: from conception, to processes, and specific contents that trigger ambivalent dynamics in such processes. The abstract glorification of public participation is questioned as theoretical and empirical perspectives are used to explain what public participation does in concrete terms and to identify what lessons might be drawn from those experiences.

This is a valuable resource for academics, researchers and students with an interest in politics and constitution building in Africa, as well as experts working in national offices, international organizations or in national and international NGOs.

Table of Contents


PART I: Conceptualizing public participation in constitution making processes

Chapter 1. Participation – to unveil a myth Abrak Saati

Chapter 2. Letting the Constituent Power decide? Merits and challenges of referenda in constitution making processes in Africa Markus Böckenförde

PART II: Participation in constitution making processes

Chapter 3. The Flawed Public Participation in the Egyptian Constitutional Process Mohamed Abdelaal

Chapter 4. The 2011 Constitution-making Process in Morocco: A Limited and Controlled Public Participation Francesco Biagi

Chapter 5. Participation in the Tunisian constitution-making process Nedra Cherif

Chapter 6. The Role of Participation in the Two Kenyan Constitution Building Processes of 2000-5 and 2010: Lessons Learnt? Rose W. Macharia and Yash Ghai

Chapter 7. The Francophone Paradox: Participation in Senegal and in Central African Republic Leopoldine Croce

Chapter 8.People and Constitutions: The Case of Zambia Boniface Cheembe

Chapter 9. Public Participation Under Authoritarian Rule: The case of Zimbabwe Douglas Togaraseyi Mwonzora

Chapter 10. The Role of Civil Society in the Libyan Constitution-making Process Omar Hammady

Chapter 11. Public Participation and Elite Capture: A yet Incomplete Struggle Towards a New Constitution in Tanzania Philipp Michaelis

Chapter 12. Mission Impossible? Opportunities and Limitations of Public Participation in Constitution-Making in a Failed State - The Case of Somalia Jan Amilcar Schmidt

Chapter 13.The process of drafting a citizen driven constitution in South Sudan: which role for the public? Katrin Seidel

PART III: Participation in context: does it make a difference?

Chapter 14. Wanjiku’s Constitution: Women’s participation and their impact in Kenya’s constitution building processes Jill Cottrell

Chapter 15. Societal Engagement, Democratic Transition, and Constitutional Implementation in Malawi Matteo Nicolini, Martina Trettel

Chapter 16. Public Participation and the Death Penalty in South Africa’s Constitution-Making Process Heinz Klug

Chapter 17. A Success Story of Participation? LGBTI rights in South Africa Veronica Federico

Chapter 18. The Cross-Cutting Issue of Religion in the Tunisian Participatory Constitution-Making Process Tania Abbiate

Chapter 19. Does participation help to foster constitutionalism in Africa? H. Kwasi Prempeh

About the Editors

Tania Abbiate is a Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Germany.

Markus Böckenförde is Executive Director and Senior Researcher at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg, Germany, and a Visiting Professor at the Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary.

Veronica Federico is Researcher of Comparative Public Law in the Department of Legal Studies at the University of Florence, Italy.

About the Series

Routledge Global Cooperation Series

The Routledge Global Cooperation series develops innovative approaches to understanding, explaining and answering one of the most pressing questions of our time – how can cooperation in a culturally diverse world of nine billion people succeed?

We are rapidly approaching our planet’s limits, with trends such as advancing climate change and the destruction of biological diversity jeopardising our natural life support systems. Accelerated globalisation processes lead to an ever growing interconnectedness of markets, states, societies, and individuals. Many of today's problems cannot be solved by nation states alone. Intensified cooperation at the local, national, international, and global level is needed to tackle current and looming global crises.

This interdisciplinary series welcomes proposals from a wide range of disciplines such as international relations and global governance, environment and sustainability, development studies, international law, history, political theory or economy which develop theoretical, analytical, and normative approaches concerning pressing global cooperation questions. We favour books that take an interdisciplinary approach and appeal to an international readership comprised of scholars and postgraduate students.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd (

Tobias Debiel, Claus Leggewie and Dirk Messner are Co-Directors of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany. Their research areas are, among others, Global Governance, Climate Change, Peacebuilding and Cultural Diversity of Global Citizenship. The three Co-Directors are, at the same time, based in their home institutions, which participate in the Centre, namely the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE, Messner) in Bonn, the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF, Debiel) in Duisburg and The Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI, Leggewie) in Essen.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries