Unconstitutional Changes of Government and Unconstitutional Practices in Africa

With the revival of multi-party politics in Africa in the 1990s, there emerged a belief in elections as the only legitimate basis for assuming and retaining government power. Building on this belief, the African Union (AU) (& its predecessor the Organization of African States [OAU]) has become not only the defender of democracy and constitutional rule on the continent, but has also taken on the role of promoting democracy and helped enshrine the norm against the Unconstitutional Changes of Government (UCG) in various legal instruments. Through norms like the UCG, the O/AU has even exceeded the United Nations in expansively articulating the conditions that would be considered threats to peace and security.

This paper analyzes the O/AU’s normative framework on UCG, tracing the origins of the norm, identifying the major gaps; reviewing the AU’s implementation and enforcement of the norm; and discussing potential means for reconciling the identified gaps between the norm and practice.

Stay Connected