Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa

Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa: Preventing Civil War Through Institutional Design

Edited by Alan J. Kuperman
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt15hvz87
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  • Book Info
    Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa
    Book Description:

    Each of Africa's countries has a different constitutional design, is characterized by a unique culture and history, and faces different stresses that threaten to undermine political stability. Presenting the first database of constitutional design in all African countries, along with seven original case studies,Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africaexplores the types of domestic political institutions that can buffer societies from destabilizing changes that otherwise increase the risk of violence.

    With detailed comparative studies of Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, contributing scholars identify key turning points at which a state's political institutions either mitigated or escalated the effects of economic, environmental, demographic, and political shocks. They find that stability can be promoted by various constitutional designs-not only by accommodative institutions that encourage decentralization and multiculturalism, but also by the integrative, centralized designs that characterize the constitutions of most African countries. The greatest danger may arise from partial or inequitable accommodation that can exacerbate societal tensions, culminating in violence up to and including civil war and genocide. Accordingly,Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africacautions against the typical international prescription for radical reform to replace Africa's existing constitutions with accommodative designs, instead prescribing more gradual constitutional reform to strengthen liberal institutions, such as strong judiciaries and independent electoral commissions. This detailed and methodical volume provides vital lessons for fostering democracy and reducing civil conflict via constitutional reform in Africa and beyond.

    Contributors: Justin Orlando Frosini, Gilbert M. Khadiagala, Alan J. Kuperman, Karly Kupferberg, Eli Poupko, Eghosa E. Osaghae, Andrew Reynolds, Filip Reyntjens, Arame Tall, Hillary Thomas-Lake, Stefan Wolff, I. William Zartman.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9033-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. CHAPTER 1 Designing Constitutions to Reduce Domestic Conflict
    (pp. 1-24)
    Alan J. Kuperman

    Can deadly internal conflict be prevented, or at least significantly reduced, by changing a country’s domestic political institutions? This might seem an obvious and important question, especially for Africa, which recently has suffered the most such violence—in Rwanda, Congo, Darfur, and elsewhere. Yet, this continental puzzle has never before been addressed in a rigorous, comparative manner.

    This volume, by the Constitutional Design and Conflict Management (CDCM) project, is the first such effort. As with any initial attempt to address a question of such enormous scope, the methodological challenges are substantial and the findings can be only tentative—but they...

  4. ACCOMMODATION IS RISKY
    • CHAPTER 2 Burundi: Institutionalizing Ethnicity to Bridge the Ethnic Divide
      (pp. 27-50)
      Filip Reyntjens

      This chapter examines how changes in Burundi’s constitutional design have helped buffer the shock of democratic elections, thereby contributing to a sharp reduction in ethnic violence. Inter-group conflict was the most important and lethal hallmark of Burundian politics starting at independence in 1962, and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives as recently as the 1990s, but has largely receded over the past decade. This chapter shows that constitutional engineering along consociational lines—explicitly accommodating ethnicity rather than attempting to suppress it—played a major part in reducing ethnic conflict and violence, in concert with other endogenous and exogenous factors. Only...

    • CHAPTER 3 Kenya: Gradual Pluralization Fails to Buffer Shocks
      (pp. 51-70)
      Gilbert M. Khadiagala

      This chapter probes how Kenya’s constitutional design has mediated shocks to the political system since the late 1980s. Shocks are major events that can affect the relative power of societal groups, produce new elites, and redefine state-society relationships. Four major shocks, and their consequences, are examined. (1) In the early 1990s, domestic protests combined with international donor aid cutbacks to produce a shock that compelled the government to reintroduce multiparty politics. (2) In the mid-1990s, the endogenous shock of riots and protests led to additional constitutional reforms that the government subsequently reversed. (3) Between 2001 and 2005, the combination of...

    • CHAPTER 4 Nigeria: Devolution to Mitigate Conflict in the Niger Delta
      (pp. 71-95)
      Eghosa E. Osaghae

      This chapter examines how shocks in Nigeria related to its oil industry have been inadequately mediated by constitutional design, leading to persistent violence in the country’s Niger Delta region. The period under examination is from 1960, when Nigeria became independent, until 2010, when violent conflict peaked in the Niger Delta despite the government’s granting amnesty to militants in a desperate effort to salvage oil production. The chapter focuses on the extent to which Nigeria’s constitutional design was able to cope with these shocks, and the reforms introduced when it was not. To control for geographic variation within Nigeria, all of...

    • CHAPTER 5 Sudan: “Successful” Constitutional Reform Spurs Localized Violence
      (pp. 96-114)
      Karly Kupferberg and Stefan Wolff

      Constitutional design—a country’s major political institutions—can play an important role in both preventing violent escalation and restoring peace after a period of violent confrontation.¹ At the same time, such institutions can have the opposite effect: rather than mitigating violence, they can create new grievances or exacerbate preexisting ones. But this dual effect does not occur in a vacuum. Constitutional design’s effect on conflict management is context dependent. To be effective in maintaining political stability, political institutions must fit the specific circumstances of the domestic situation and the international environment, so that the necessary compromises are attractive and sustainable....

  5. INTEGRATION CAN WORK
    • CHAPTER 6 Ghana: The Complements of Successful Centralization: Checks, Balances, and Informal Accommodation
      (pp. 117-134)
      Justin Orlando Frosini

      Ghana has been referred to as “the shining star of democracy on the African continent,” due to its past two decades of elections that have been judged “free and fair,” including those in 2000 and 2008 that produced peaceful alternation of power between political parties.¹ Indeed, Ghana’s electoral results have not been questioned since 1992, when opposition parties rejected the re-election of Jerry Rawlings and then boycotted the subsequent parliamentary elections. Since then, the country’s stability has been notable, especially in light of Africa’s overall shaky record of democracy and Ghana’s recent discovery of offshore oil that could have increased...

    • CHAPTER 7 Senegal: The Limits of Hyper-Centralization
      (pp. 135-157)
      I. William Zartman, Hillary Thomas-Lake and Arame Tall

      This chapter explores how, if at all, constitutional design affected the handling and thus the outcome of specific “shocks” in Senegal.¹ Two types of shocks are considered here: a rebellion that sought secession in the southern part of the country, and widespread flooding in the capital area. The first was endogenous, coming from within the political system, when longstanding demands and hopes for autonomy suddenly faced the prospect of nonrealization and so escalated into violence, challenging the power of the state. The second was exogenous, as floods swamped the capital area, displacing hundreds of thousands. The constitutional design of the...

    • CHAPTER 8 Zimbabwe: The Unintended Consequences of Authoritarian Institutions
      (pp. 158-180)
      Andrew Reynolds

      This chapter focuses on two dimensions of the evolution of the Zimbabwean state: constitutional design and the effect such political institutions have had on inter-ethnic relations. At times the institutional set-up of the state has lessened the polarization among communal groups, while at other moments constitutional changes have, by design, exacerbated social divisions. This analysis focuses on shocks to the body politic, the mediating role of constitutional design, and the resulting consequences for Zimbabwe’s populace, especially regarding welfare and ethnic divides. In this study, I examine three main shocks and their consequences: (1) in the early 1980s, a breakdown between...

  6. APPLYING THE LESSONS
    • CHAPTER 9 Africa’s Domestic Institutions of Integration and Accommodation: A New Database
      (pp. 183-225)
      Eli Poupko

      In contemporary conflict management scholarship, it has become generally accepted that institutions matter.¹ This principle implies that constitutional design—broadly defined as the overall institutional structure framing the political order—has significant effects on the extent and specific manifestations of social conflict. These effects of constitutional design are particularly relevant for the deeply divided societies of most African states. The predominant institutionalist approach assumes that constitutional design mediates a variety of historical and environmental sources of conflict, as well as sociological sources, such as demographic patterns of ethnic divisions.² Constitutional design is thus somewhat analogous to a semiconductor of social...

    • CHAPTER 10 Rethinking Constitutional Reform for Democracy and Stability
      (pp. 226-236)
      Alan J. Kuperman

      This book’s findings call into question the conventional wisdom that espouses radical reform of the constitutional design of African countries that typically have “integrative” political institutions—including a unitary government, strong president, and majoritarian/plurality elections. Experts overwhelmingly advocate the opposing constitutional design of “accommodative” institutions—including federalism, territorial autonomy, parliamentary government, proportional representation, and formal guarantees of ethnic diversity. The case studies in this volume reveal that neither of the two designs—integration or accommodation—guarantees political stability in the face of shocks, whether arising from environmental, political, demographic, or economic change. The good news is that if institutionalized appropriately,...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 237-272)
  8. List of Contributors
    (pp. 273-274)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 275-292)
  10. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 293-294)