Judges are key in constitution making

In most cases constitution making process cannot be completed without some involvement from judges. Have African judges so far realised the importance of building strong constitutional governance, Sofie Baker Djoumessi Kenfack, International Relations Institute of Cameroon questions? In her talk she looks at the responsibility of the judge in the development of constitutional governance in Africa.

 She points out that there are two dimensions to the rule of law: formal (respect for the rule of law by state authorities) and substantive (effective guarantees of fundamental rights). According to her, both must be included in a constitution to ensure constitutional governance.

She states that the latter is often ignored in Africa, but might change with the adoption of the African Charter on democracy, elections and governance. Democracy cannot effectively exist without an independent judge in charge of guaranteeing compliance with constitutional norms and values.

Pierrette Essama Mekongo, a lecturer at University of Yaounde II, will also present a paper titled: Constitution making- A never ending process? This is an enquiry into the constant amendments to the Cameroonian constitution. She states that
Cameroon became independent in 1960 and underwent the reunification process in 1961 following its appointment between England and France in 1914. First constitution replaced in 1961. Second constitution made Cameroon a Federal State composed of 2 states - reversed in 1972 was made Unitary State with a third Constitution.

She says this raises the question as to whether the constitution-making process may be a continuous exercise. Therefore this paper aims at uncovering the dynamics of the frequent constitutional amendments in Cameroon within the broader African context.

These two will be one of the many speakers from across Africa will deliver their insightful and thought provoking papers during the Constitution-Building Conference which will take place on tomorrow in Cape Town. These range of speakers comes from countries like Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya as well South Africa just to mention a few.

This insightful session will be broadcast live HERE on the day of the conference at 1330hrs-UTC (1230hrs-GMT). Please visit our website, follow @UWC_CLC and like our Facebook Page: Community Law Centre. The participants are encouraged to use the #ConstitutionAfrica on both Facebook and Twitter to be part of this interesting conversation.