Challenging the Rule of Law: The African Laboratory
Jonas Bens, Freie Universität Berlin
Leonie Benker, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Africa has been the main laboratory for international rule of law interventions. From different disciplinary perspectives papers explore how these interventions have challenged Africa and/or how Africa has challenged the understanding of “the rule of law” more generally. Beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, international rule of law interventions in postcolonies have become a central part of an emerging global justice and human rightsregime. The African continent has been the main laboratory in which this instrument has been applied, tested and transformed. Examples are interventions of international criminal justice institutions in Africa, the facilitation of national constitution-making processes, the implementation of security sector reforms, the promotion of various human rights programs and other legalized and legalistic forms of development policies. Many in Africa and beyond view the implementation of international rule of law regimes as an illegitimate and neocolonial North-South intervention and there is a call for “African justice” instead of “Western justice”. Such counter-movements include the African Union’s attempt to create an African criminal court, the rise of alternative (neo-)traditional justice systems, and a growing movement of decolonial approaches to law and statehood in academic discourses. International rule of law interventions have become a major trope in discourses on peace and security as well as wider issues of law, rights, and governance in Africa and beyond.
This panel invites papers investigating the phenomenon of Africa as the laboratory of international rule of law interventions. From different disciplinary perspectives papers should explore how these interventions have challenged Africa and/or how Africa has challenged the understanding of the “rule of law” more generally.