The African Network of Constitutional Lawyers has issued a call for papers for its annual conference, to be held in Rabat, Morocco 2 – 5 February 2011. The theme this year is “The Internationalization of Constitutional Law”
From the call: “Constitutional law has always been subject to multiple foreign and international influences but the process has accelerated over the past two or three decades. For instance, the international community may be involved in the resolution of domestic conflicts and influence the reshaping of the state, international human rights conventions impose obligations on the way states deal with their citizens, regional bodies such as SADC, ECOWAS and EAC shift final decision making power from domestic courts to regional courts, international aid affects domestic affairs, including constitutional design, and so on.
The main purpose of this conference is to consider the ways in which the international community and international law influence constitutional law in Africa and the implications of this phenomenon.
There will be three sub-themes:
I – “International control of elections: the impact on Africa’s transitions”
Free and fair elections are essential to constitutionalism and good governance. They also often present dangerous moments for democracy because of fierce competition for power. International influence (or control) of elections may take many forms. International standards for electoral processes have been developed and these may be followed by domestic electoral bodies. But, the international community and foreign actors are not necessarily neutral in African electoral politics.
Papers presented in this subtheme may examine any aspect of the internationalization of elections.
II – “How should African legislatures perform in a transitional context?”
In constitutional theory legislatures are intended to enact legislation and provide some control on the executives. In practice this is very difficult because the executive commands the power of the state. Legislatures face particular challenges to fulfill their mandates in times of transition when constitutional government is still insecure and the roles of the legislature and executive are being formed.
This subtheme explores the role of legislatures in two types of transition:
(i) Transitions involving fundamental regime change: What role do legislatures have in shaping the future democratic order when countries move to a democratic order? Can legislatures constrain new undemocratic powers? What mechanisms can legislatures use to develop accountable government at times of transition? How are legislatures influenced by the international community? Is this influence good or bad?
(ii) Transitions after regular elections: Legislatures play a role in maintaining stability after a government is voted out of power and a new government is elected. What are the specific challenge in these times?
Papers presented in this aspect may address either of these roles of Parliaments.
III – “International influences on constitutions and constitutional law in Africa”
Constitutions and constitutional jurisprudence have always drawn on ideas from many sources. But globalization has increased the flow of ideas among jurisdictions and the increased dependence of states on one another has increased foreign pressure on states to conform to international (and foreign) standards and values. Constitution-making processes are modeled on experience in other countries, Bills of Rights have been expanded to include new rights, independent institutions have been established to curb executive power and judges use decisions from foreign countries in their decision-making.
There is debate in Africa as elsewhere about whether or not external influences on constitutions and constitutional law are good, how successful “transplants” from other countries are, how much attention judges and other decision makers should pay to international standards and ideas from other countries and so on.
Papers in this sub-theme may consider examples of international influences on African constitutions and constitutional jurisprudence, how African jurisdictions have domesticated new ideas, whether there is a difference between jurisdictions (and Francophone, Lusophone and Anglophone countries) in the reception of foreign ideas, and the dangers and benefits of international influences etc.
Proposals for papers should be submitted to Vanja Karth (email@example.com) by 30 October 2010.
Other sessions at the Conference
In addition to sessions dedicated to the theme of the conference, there will be four other activities:
(i) An open session for which papers on any constitutional law matter will be accepted. Although this session will provide people who are working on matters unrelated to the theme to present their work, if we receive too many submissions, preference will be given to papers with a link to the general theme. Papers for this session should be submitted to Vanja by 30 October 2010
(ii) A session of the ANCL Working Group on Social and Economic Rights in Africa. To present a paper at this session please contact Kristina Bentley (Kristina.Bentley@uct.ac.za)
(iii) A session of the ANCL Working Group on the Right of Access to Information. The title of this session will be:
“Constitutionalizing the Right of Access to Information: What does the ‘international growth in transparency legislation’ tell Africa about opening up government?” To present a paper at this session please contact Vanja Karth (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(iv) A practical workshop run by the Working Group on Teaching Constitutional Law in Africa. This workshop is likely to take the form of a workshop on teaching constitutional law and will be scheduled either immediately before or immediately after the Conference. Details will be circulated soon.
All papers accepted for presentation at the conference must be submitted to Vanja Karth by 15 December 2010.