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International Legal Studies Colloquium

2011 news archive

On October 4th, Professor Raymond Atuguba of the University of Ghana Faculty of Law spoke on “Conversations, Stories, Experiments:  Africa's March Forward."  The presentation, which drew on Professor Atuguba's own experience in the constitutional and legislative reform process in Ghana, critically examined lawyers' ability to participate meaningfully in these processes in emerging African polities.

This talk raised questions about the mechanics of ordering a future polity in Africa, using Ghana as a case study. There has always been a preponderant role for lawyers in policy making in Ghana. This role has been largely unquestioned and continuous to be inflated beyond proportion. The inflation of the role of lawyers in leading the country, and in the design and implementation of policies on virtually everything, can be precarious considering that lawyers are not necessarily trained in public policy and the critical disciplines and experiences that public policy implicates. Yet that role remains. 

The talk attempted to draw out learning from the reform of Ghana’s Constitution, Forestry Laws, and Health Insurance System by lawyers who are aware of their capacity deficits and the limits of law. A three-part theory of change seems to be emerging from these three different processes of making and implementing policy choices in three different domains of national life. It covers: a basket of consultative strategies; historical institutionalism; and experimentalism in institutional design.

The incipient theory is important as a learning tool for an Africa that is trying to fashion out new polities from South Africa, through Tunisia, to Egypt; and from Liberia and Sierra Leone, through Zimbabwe and Kenya to Southern Sudan and Libya.