Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Call for Papers–Symposium on Constitutional Change and Transformation in Africa–Kabarak University, Kenya

Kabarak University School of Law
Centre for Jurisprudence & Constitutional Studies

in collaboration with

Boston College Law School

under the auspices of

The International Society of Public Law (ICON·S)

invite submissions for

Symposium on Constitutional Change and Transformation in Africa
Kabarak University School of Law
Nakuru, Kenya
June 9-10, 2016

Kabarak University School of Law, Boston College Law School and the International Society of Public Law invite submissions for a two-day Symposium on Constitutional Change and Transformation in Africa, to be held on the campus of Kabarak University in Nakuru on Thursday and Friday, June 9-10, 2016.

The keynote speaker for this event will be Dr. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kenya.

This Symposium is convened by Duncan Okubasu (Kabarak) and Richard Albert (Boston College).

About the Symposium

Nearly every country in Africa has amended, revised or replaced its constitution over the last forty years. Yet constitutional change on the continent remains largely underexplored, save for a few prominent exceptions.

Constitutional change in Africa raises fascinating questions in constitutional design and and its connection to political culture. Political actors in Africa have often resorted to extra-constitutional strategies to make changes to their constitution, undermining or indeed altogether bypassing the formal procedures for amendment, revision or replacement. They have relied on all manner of means to achieve their objectives, from political entrenchment through law, to strictly legalistic but substantively unconstitutional processes, and to military coups. The common refrain has consequently become that African states have “constitutions without constitutionalism.”

But there are signs of change. Although recent events in Burundi, Egypt, Madagascar, Mali and Tunisia show that progress is fragile, the prospects for constitutionalism in Africa are brighter today than before.

In 2007, the African Union adopted the African Charter of Governance, Elections and Democracy to address its concern “about the unconstitutional changes of governments that are one of the essential causes of insecurity, instability and violent conflict in Africa.” One of the purposes of the Charter is to “entrench in the Continent a political culture of change of power based on the holding of regular, free, fair and transparent elections conducted by competent, independent and impartial national electoral bodies,” and to “promote and strengthen good governance through the institutionalization of transparency, accountability and participatory democracy.” The Constitution of Kenya, adopted three years after the Charter, remains stable to this day. And the transformative Constitution of South Africa will soon mark its twentieth anniversary in 2016.

This Symposium on Constitutional Change and Transformation in Africa will be an occasion to discuss and diagnose specific episodes and larger trends in constitutional change in Africa, and to look ahead to the future of constitutionalism on the continent.

Papers are welcomed on any subject of constitutional change from comparative, doctrinal, historical, philosophical, sociological and theoretical perspectives. A non-exhaustive list of possible subjects include:

  1. Constitutional endurance in Africa;
  2. The (in)significance of formal rules of constitutional change;
  3. The place of informal rules of constitutional change;
  4. The role of the people and political institutions in constitutional change and transformation;
  5. The social, political, and economic dimensions of constitutional change;
  6. The influence of transnational constitutional norms on constitutional change.


Submissions are invited from scholars of all ranks, including doctoral students.


The Convenors intend to publish the papers in an edited book or in a special issue of a law journal. An invitation to participate in this Symposium will be issued to a participant on the following conditions: (1) the participant agrees to submit an original, unpublished paper ranging between 9,000 and 12,000 words consistent with the submission guidelines issued by the Symposium Convenors; (2) the participant agrees to submit a pre-Symposium draft by Monday, April 4, 2016; and (3) the participant agrees to submit a full post-Symposium final draft by Monday, August 15, 2016.

Submission Instructions

Interested scholars should email biographical information and an abstract by Monday, November 2, 2015 to on the understanding that the abstract will form the basis of the pre-Symposium draft to be submitted by Monday, April 4, 2016. Scholars should identify their submission with the following subject line: “Kabarak University—Abstract Submission—Change and Transformation.”


Successful applicants will be notified no later than Friday, December 4, 2015.


Kabarak University has generously offered to cover the cost of accommodations and meals on the days of the Symposium. Successful applicants are responsible for securing their own funding for travel.


Please direct inquiries in connection with this Symposium to:

Duncan Okubasu
Kabarak University School of Law

Richard Albert
Boston College Law School

About Kabarak University School of Law

Kabarak Law School [KLS] was established in 2009 and is emerging as one of the finest research intensive law schools in Kenya. It has so far established the leading student publications in Kenya and its scholars publish in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals. KLS is reputable in Kenya and is increasingly becoming a preferred research destination for scholars from Europe, America, Australia and Asia. It has a rich curriculum in law with a specialization in good governance. KLS is attracting the interest of domestic and international scholars because of the institutional support it offers for research and scholarship. It has an ambitious fellowship programme run by its Centre for Jurisprudence & Constitutional Studies through which visiting professors and other reputable scholars are engaged in its research projects. KLS offers the highest quality training to students admitted to the Bachelor of Laws Degree Programme. Cognizant of the growing societal needs in the region, KLS has tailored the Programme to answer these needs by forming skilled professionals for the traditional law practice and also for contributions to public service, international affairs, non-governmental service, and academia.

About Boston College Law School

Founded in 1929, Boston College Law School offers broad course offerings and small class sizes that permit considerable personal interaction with faculty. The international and comparative law curriculum provides opportunities for in-class instruction, innovative and flexible study-abroad programs, and meaningful training in the field. Boston College Law School understands that globalization magnifies the scope and complexity of law and legal practice. The curriculum trains students for the needs of today, while giving them skills and perspectives that anticipate the needs of tomorrow. The program prepares leaders to pursue social justice not just nationally, but internationally as well. For more, please visit:

About The International Society of Public Law (ICON·S)

The International Society of Public Law (ICON·S) was officially launched in June 2014 at an Inaugural Conference sponsored by the European University Institute and NYU School of Law in Florence, Italy. The conference featured a keynote address by Jeremy Waldron, plenary papers by Robert Keohane, Ruth Rubio Marin and Joseph H.H. Weiler, and hundreds of participants in concurrent panels on all subjects in public law.

Presided by Sabino Cassese, ICON·S emerged from the Editorial Board of I·CON—the International Journal of Constitutional Law. For several years now I·CON has been, both by choice and by the cartographic reality of the field, much more than a journal of comparative constitutional Law. I·CON has expanded its interests, range of authors, readers, Editorial Board members and, above all, issues covered to include not only discrete articles in fields such as Administrative Law, Global Constitutional Law, Global Administrative Law and the like, but also increasingly includes scholarship that reflects both legal reality and academic perception, and which in dealing with the challenges of public life and governance combines elements from all of the above with a good dosage of political theory and social science. Learned societies have often been founded to validate the emergence, autonomy, or breakaway of an intellectual endeavor. By contrast, international learned societies are often driven by the realization of intellectual cross-fertilization that can stem from disciplinary ecumenism. ICON·S is both.

The ICON·S Executive Committee includes Sujit Choudhry, Gráinne De Búrca, Ran Hirschl, Bing Bing Jia, Susanna Mancini, Phoebe Okowa, Michel Rosenfeld, Ruth Rubio Marin, Hélène Ruiz Fabri, Anne van Aaken, and Joseph H.H. Weiler. For more information, please visit:

About the Convenors

Richard Albert is an Associate Professor at Boston College Law School and, in 2015-16, a Visiting Associate Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University. A specialist in comparative public law with a focus on formal and informal constitutional amendment, he has since December 2014 been Book Reviews Editor for the American Journal of Comparative Law, which awarded him the Hessel Yntema Prize in 2010 for “the most outstanding article” on comparative law by a scholar under the age of 40. He is also a member of the Governing Council of the International Society of Public Law, an elected member of the International Academy of Comparative Law, an elected member of the Executive Committee of the American Society of Comparative Law, and a founding editor of I-CONnect, the new scholarly blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law. Prior to joining the faculty of Boston College Law School, Albert served as a law clerk to the Chief Justice of Canada. Educated at Yale, Harvard and Oxford, he is currently engaged as a consultant on constitutional reform in Europe and the Caribbean.

Duncan Okubasu directs the Centre for Jurisprudence & Constitutional Studies at Kabarak University School of Law, where he teaches constitutional and administrative law, human rights and humanitarian law. He is also a Doctor of Philosophy in Law researcher at the Institute for Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law, Utrecht University, and an adjunct lecturer at Catholic University of Eastern Africa, where he teaches legal research and writing and supervises LLB students. He edits and reviews various journals including the Annual Supreme Court of Kenya Review, Journal of Law & Ethics, Catholic University of Eastern Africa Law Review, Strathmore University Law Journal, and University of Ilorin Law Journal. He was also an editor of the Pretoria Students Law Review (PSLR). He is, in addition, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, practicing in Nairobi. Mainly he handles public interest constitutional and human rights litigation. His academic areas of interest focus on constitutional law & theory, political theory, the origin and adaptability of institutions, and constitutional durability in Africa.


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