This Discussion Paper compares how three regional organizations—the African Union, the European Union and the Organization of American States—protect constitutionalism in their member states.

It focuses on the types of measures to protect constitutionalism in cases of fundamental threats to and violations of the constitutional order, rather than on the mechanisms to promote constitutional governance.

The author argues that regional organizations should move beyond policies that target only the most blatant violations of the constitutional order, namely unconstitutional changes of government in the form of a classic coup d’état, and increase their focus on more nuanced interruptions of the constitutional order, such as constitutional crises engineered by leaders including the adoption of (un)constitutional measures to undermine the constitutional order or through a gradual process to erode the integrity of a constitutional regime.

The paper analyses the law, policy and practice of these three organizations to outline policy-relevant conclusions, good practices and common limitations.


Publication date
24 August 2016
Micha Wiebusch
Number of pages




Executive summary

Key recommendations

1. Introduction

2. Law, policy and practice in the African Union

3. Law, policy and practice in the European Union

4. Law, policy and practice in the Organization of American States

5. Conclusion

6. Recommendations


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The Role of Regional Organizations in the Protection of Constitutionalism

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