30 October 2013

Alan Kuperman on Constitutional Design and Conflict Management in Africa

In an article published in Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, Alan Kuperman explores whether and how constitutional reform could reduce political instability and violence in Africa. The project recommends promoting gradual reform of Africa's existing, centralized constitutional designs by counter-balancing them with liberal institutions which could foster both peace and democracy on the continent.

First, case studies of seven African countries identify how at key turning points the domestic political institutions either mitigated – or exacerbated – violent outcomes. Second, an unprecedented database of constitutional design in all of Africa reveals that most countries on the continent have highly centralized political institutions, which many experts believe foster conflict. Third, these lessons are combined to develop policy recommendations for foreign aid to promote democracy and good governance in Africa. Counter-intuitively, the CDCM project does not recommend promoting radical constitutional reform to “accommodate” groups based on their identity, as favored by many academics, on grounds that it is too different from what currently exists and therefore could result in half-measures that risk increasing political violence.

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