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HUMAN rights
“From the 1990s to the present day, Africa has had a fervour for crafting and re-crafting constitutions. The emphasis has been on constitutionalism, good governance and the rule of law, all of which raised high hopes that the era of repressive, arbitrary and autocratic rule is over [...] They contained a catalogue of human rights, and placed constraints on governments to promote, inter alia, democracy, transparency, accountability and service delivery. Many also had provisions limiting presidential terms to ensure alternation of powers. However, as we move towards the end of the third decade since the winds of change of the 1990s, the reality is that few of those original hopes have been met.”1
Professor Charles Manga Fombad heads the
African Constitutional Law Unit at the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA)
in the Faculty of Law at UP. He has also leads two research projects that attained significant milestones in 2016. The first is on constitution-building in Africa, which is based on an annual seminar series jointly organised by ICLA and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), under the broad theme ‘the future of democracy’. An important outcome of the seminar series has been the publication of the first volume in a new series: Stellenbosch Handbooks
in African Constitutional Law Vol 1: Separation of Powers in African Constitutionalism (Charles Fombad ed., OUP, 2016).
The overriding objective of the project is to contribute, through research, to promoting and deepening constitutionalism in Africa. The seminars
have focused on several aspects of comparative constitutional law research in Africa, to provide in-depth knowledge and understanding of African constitutional regimes and their evolution. The first book in the new series, Separation of Powers in African Constitutionalism, presents the contributions of a wide network of scholars, researchers and
legal activists. Examining one of the
key measures introduced by African constitutional designers to entrench
an ethos of constitutionalism on the continent, the publication takes a critical look at the different attempts to separate the different branches of government, and the impact of this on transparent and accountable governance.
This first volume signals to the world that comparative constitutional law issues in Africa are important. It also lays an important foundation for closing ‘a gaping knowledge gap’ with respect to comparative constitutional law research in Africa, as well as in the analyses of challenges faced in African constitution-making processes, and in the implementation of African constitutions.
In recognition of what this series brings to scholarship in comparative constitutional law, Professor Fombad was invited by the University of Melbourne and the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) to launch the first book in the series, in Melbourne. Manuscripts of the second book in the series are already with Oxford University Press (OUP), with the book scheduled for publication in 2017.
The second project involves introductory reports
on the constitutions of all African countries. These are also published by OUP, as part of the Oxford Constitutions of the Countries of the World Online Series. Since 2011, ICLA, in partnership with the
Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg, Germany), has coordinated the Africa country reports for the Oxford Constitutions Online. Professor Fombad is co- editor of the Africa country reports, working closely with Prof Dr Rainer Grote, senior research fellow
at the MPI. By the end of 2016, the introductory reports of 24 of the 54 African countries had been published. Under a special agreement between OUP and ICLA, all the published introductory reports on African countries, as well as the latest version of the constitutions of the relevant countries, are published on the ICLA website2, and are accessible and frequently consulted by researchers free of charge.
     1 Charles Fombad (ed.), 2016. The implementation of modern African constitutions: Challenges and prospects (PULP, Pretoria). 2 ICLA website:
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