Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 9, 2013

Constitutional Design and Conflict Management in Africa

  • Alan J. Kuperman EMAIL logo


The CDCM project explores whether and how constitutional reform could reduce political instability and violence in Africa, by addressing the question in three steps. 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 exacerbating political violence. Instead, the project recommends promoting gradual reform of Africa’s existing, centralized constitutional designs by counter-balancing them with liberal institutions, especially the separation of powers, which could foster both peace and democracy on the continent.

Corresponding author: Alan J. Kuperman, LBJ School – University of Texas, PO Box Y, Austin, TX 78713-8925, USA, E-mail:

  1. 1

    The CDCM project is based at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. See This article is based upon work supported by, or in part by, the US Army Research Office grant number W911NF-09-1-0077 under the Minerva Initiative of the US Department of Defense.

  2. 2

    For further information on the methodology, see Kuperman 2011.

  3. 3

    For summaries of the case studies, see Kuperman 2013.

  4. 4

    Analysis based on Poupko 2013.


Cederman, L., Wimmer, A., Min, B., (2010), Why Do Ethnic Groups Rebel? New Data and Analysis, World Politics, vol. 62, pp. 87–119.Search in Google Scholar

Collier, P., Hoeffler, A., Rohner, D., (2009), Beyond Greed and Grievance: Feasibility and Civil War, Oxford Economic Papers, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 1–27.Search in Google Scholar

Fearon, J.D., Laitin, D.D., (2003), Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War, American Political Science Review, vol. 97, no. 1, pp. 75–90.Search in Google Scholar

Horowitz, D., (2002), Constitutional Design: Proposals Versus Processes, in Reynolds, A., (ed.), The Architecture of Democracy: Constitutional Design, Conflict Management, and Democracy, Oxford University Press, pp. 15–36.10.1093/0199246467.003.0002Search in Google Scholar

Kuperman, A.J., (2011), Can Political Institutions Avert Violence from Climate Change?, CCAPS Research Brief, no. 1, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, Austin.Search in Google Scholar

Kuperman, A.J., (2013), Constitutional Reform & Violent Conflict: Lessons from Africa, for Africa, CCAPS Research Brief, no. 15, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, Austin.Search in Google Scholar

McGarry, J., O’Leary, B., Simeon, R. (2008), Integration or Accommodation? The Enduring Debate in Conflict Regulation, in Choudhry, S., (ed.), Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation?, Oxford University Press, pp. 41–88.Search in Google Scholar

Poupko, E.S., (2013), Africa’s Domestic Institutions of Integration and Accommodation: A New Database, unpublished paper, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.Search in Google Scholar

Van Evera, S., (1997), Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science, Cornell University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Walter, B.F., (1999), Designing Transitions from Civil War, in Walter, B.F., Snyder, J. (eds.), Civil Wars, Insecurity, and Intervention, Columbia University Press, pp. 38–69.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2013-10-09
Published in Print: 2013-12-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

Downloaded on 23.2.2024 from
Scroll to top button