The panel reviews the dynamics between courts and politics in the age of democratization. It aims at bringing together perspectives from different disciplines on the effectiveness and legitimacy of Africa's diverse judiciaries as actors in politics.
Formal horizontal accountability has become a major benchmark for political systems around the world. Of course the "rise of world constitutionalism" (Ackermann) has not excluded sub-Saharan Africa. Constitutional courts or separate constitutional chambers with the competence to review political decisions or mediate between political actors have emerged in many African states. Lower courts are indispensable scrutinizers and arbiters in the context of increasing political decentralization. In short, judiciaries are a major player in the formal system of checks and balances. Courts are not isolated from the other branches of government but closely interact with them. The dynamics and interactions between courts and political actors deserve more attention from those who are interested in the distribution and control of political power than ever before. The panel, thus, aims at bringing together different perspectives on the effectiveness and legitimacy of Africa's diverse judiciaries. It focusses on ordinary courts (no transitional justice). What factors enable courts to play an effective role in politically salient issues? What makes courts legitimate and respected arbiters in political conflicts? Which obstacles do courts face in the fulfillment of their formally prescribed role? How can the judiciary contribute to the process of democratic consolidation (or hinder it)? Political scientists, legal scholars social anthropologists and other social scientists are equally invited to explore the relationship between courts and politics in African political regimes that attempt to adjust formally to the global paradigm of constitutionalism. The panel welcomes papers with a comparative character reaching from structured case-studies to large-N analyses.