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.
The CDCM project is based at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. See http://strausscenter.org/ccaps/research/about-constitutional-design.html. 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.
For further information on the methodology, see Kuperman 2011.
For summaries of the case studies, see Kuperman 2013.
Analysis based on Poupko 2013.
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