n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Democratisation in Africa : the role of self-enforcing constitutional rules

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


Following several decades during which violent civil conflict was common in African countries, the period from 1990 onwards was marked by a spreading and deepening of adherence to democratic principles. Nonetheless, many African countries still experience political instability and civil unrest. This raises the question of why these countries have not succeeded in resolving conflict in a sustainable manner. Drawing on economic ideas about contracts and institutions,this paper outlines a conceptual framework for thinking about the role of constitutional rules in achieving political stability. It also elucidates a critical requirement for sustainable democratic systems, namely that constitutional rules must become self-sustaining to safeguard such systems and to avoid relapses into violent civil conflict. The experiences of selected African countries are presented as brief case studies that illustrate the relevance of the conceptual framework and the notion of self-enforcing constitutional rules.

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