The legal systems in West African countries are diverse.

They have their foundations in different colonial heritages and have been shaped by a variety of customary and religious norms, which affects the design of each country’s judicial system. At the same time, this region is growing together under the umbrella of the Economic Community of West African States.

This book compares the constitutional justice institutions in 16 West African states and analyses the diverse ways in which these institutions render justice and promote democratic development. It also seeks to facilitate mutual learning and understanding among countries in the region, especially those with different legal systems, in efforts to frame a common West African system.

There is no single best approach: different legal traditions tend to produce different design options. The authors analyse a broad spectrum of issues related to constitutional justice institutions in West Africa. While navigating technical issues such as competence, composition, access, the status of judges, the authoritative power of these institutions and their relationship with other institutions, they also take a novel look at analogous institutions in pre-colonial Africa with similar functions, as well as the often-taboo subject of the control and accountability of these institutions.


Publication date
01 July 2016
Markus Böckenförde, Babacar Kante, Yuhniwo Ngenge, H. Kwasi Prempeh
Number of pages
Hanns Seidel Foundation
978-91-7671-052-4 (Print)





1. Introduction
Markus Böckenförde

2. Traditional and historical antecedents of constitutional justice in West Africa 
Yuhniwo Ngenge

3. Institutional models for constitutional justice in contemporary West Africa
Yuhniwo Ngenge

4. Constitutional framework for the independence of constitutional review institutions
Markus Böckenförde and Yuhniwo Ngenge

5. Judicial service commissions
Babacar Kante and H. Kwasi Prempeh

6. The composition of constitutional justice institutions
Markus Böckenförde

7. Reviewing the constitutionality of laws
Yuhniwo Ngenge

8. Other competences of constitutional review institutions
Babacar Kante and H. Kwasi Prempeh

9. Access to constitutional review institutions
Babacar Kante and H. Kwasi Prempeh

10. Authority of the decisions of constitutional review institutions
Babacar Kante and H. Kwasi Prempeh

11. Watching the watchdogs
Markus Böckenförde

12. Conclusion and outlook
Markus Böckenförde and Yuhniwo Ngenge

Annex: Questionnaire template


References and further reading

About the authors 

About International IDEA 

About the Hanns Seidel Foundation

More International IDEA resources on constitution-building processes

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