The Course is open to Upper Class students in the Law School, studying for the JSD, LLM and JD, and at SIPA, as well as graduate students in other relevant disciplines. There are no other limitations.
Method of evaluation:
Evaluation will be on the basis of a comprehensive research paper submitted at the end of the Semester on a pre-approved topic, a mid-term paper on a subject from selected topics, and class participation. The research paper will account for 75% of total marks; the mid-term paper and class participation will account for 25%.
Major or Minor writing credits may be earned for a research paper graded B or above, subject to Faculty Rules.
This course a rigorous examination of the structure and content of the African Legal Systems, the place of Customary Law in contemporary Africa, the level of integration of international legal norms required by international human rights laws and the global and regional rules of trade and investment and measures taken to advance the social and economic development of African countries. The African Legal Systems are composed of multiple rules derived from the underlying customary laws under which the majority of Africans live, foreign laws imported by the predominant colonial powers and International norms which all impact on the constitutional and and domestic legal order. The dual system of courts introduced during colonialism ensured that foreign law applied exclusively to foreigners and was administered by courts manned by colonial judges and magistrates, leaving the local population to be governed, in civil matters, under a form of sensitized customary law administered by traditional courts, but subject to administrative and judicial review by the colonial courts. The criminal law was a codification of rules derived from the metropolitan criminal codes and has with little adjustments remained the same following independence. The African Constitutions handed down on independence borrowed heavily from the basic principles of constitutional law applicable in the former colonial powers and were criticized for not being autochthonous enough by succeeding Governments. The reforms instituted following independence were driven largely by attempts to monopolize power by ruling parties leading to one-party rule and military interventions, through coups d'etat. More recent constitutional reforms have borrowed heavily from International Human Rights Law, enshrined in the United Nations covenants as well as other treaties to which these countries are parties.The applicable law also includes rules derived from demands by the international community for reforms to usher in good governance and the rule of law and requirements for integration of global and regional rules of trade and investment, mandated by membership in the United Nations and related institutions, such as the World Bank Group, IMF, the World Trade Organization, WIPO and Regional Organizations, such as the African Union and the Regional Economic Commissions. The materials assembled for this course are selected with a view to highlight the diversity of laws applicable in Africa and the tensions likely to emerge in the application of the competing values and norms underlying these laws. Students in the class will, using these and other available library materials, review the state and structure of the legal and judicial regimes of individual countries and submit well research papers on selected topics to be graded based on the level of analytical understanding of the subject matter and originality of proposals made for possible legal and judicial reforms, as necessary.