Identity, Diversity, and Constitutionalism in Africa

November 2008
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9781601270344
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9781601270351
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Since independence, African states have struggled under the burden of European models of governance. Hobbled by these alien frameworks, countries have limped from crisis to crisis, unable to establish their democratic legitimacy or to quell the secessionist demands of marginalized minorities. In this innovative and stimulating volume, Francis Deng outlines a new relationship between governments and societies—a relationship informed by Western concepts but based on traditional African values such as respect for human dignity, equality, and self-rule.

Francis Deng, a distinguished scholar and world-renowned diplomat, interweaves legal and cultural anthropology, constitutional law, political science, and a practitioner’s pragmatism as he dissects current dilemmas and devises feasible solutions. At the heart of the volume are two key concepts: constitutionalism as an evolving system of laws, norms, practices, and institutions; and self-determination as both an expression of identity and a tool for conflict prevention and resolution. These two ideas, argues Deng, can help Africans resolve the tension between ethnic diversity and national identity.

“Francis Deng provides an eloquent reminder that African countries are facing a constitutional deficit rather than simply a democratic one. While the West applauds or bemoans the outcome of specific elections, Africa faces the immense challenge of developing a new constitutionalism to accommodate diversity and manage it in the context of the cultural values of its own people.”

-Marina Ottaway, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Francis Deng

Francis M. Deng is the UN secretary-general’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide. In 2002–2003, he was a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace. He served as Sudan’s minister of state foreign affairs, is the author or editor of more than thirty books, and holds a doctorate from Yale Law School.

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