UCL Faculty of Laws


Hybrid | A Theory of African Constitutionalism

30 January 2023, 11:30 am–1:00 pm

Image of book cover and Dr Berihun Gebeye

This event is organised by the UCL Public Law Group

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws


UCL Faculty of Laws
Bentham House
4-8 Endsleigh Gardens

About the Paper

A Theory of African Constitutionalism asks and seeks to answer why we need a new theoretical framework for African constitutionalism and how this could offer us better theoretical and practical tools with which to understand, improve, and assess African constitutionalism on its own terms. By locating constitutional studies in Africa within the experiences, interactions, and contestations of power and governance beginning in precolonial times, the book presents the development and transformation of African constitutional systems across time and place, along with the attendant constitutional designs and practices ranging from the nature and operation of the African state to its vertical and horizontal government structures, to its constitutional rights regime. This book offers both a theoretically and comparatively rich, historically and contextually informed, and temporally and spatially extensive account of the nature, travails, and incremental successes of African constitutionalism with detailed case studies from Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa. A Theory of African Constitutionalism provides scholars, policymakers, governments, and constitution builders in Africa and beyond with new insights for reimagining the purpose, substance, and scope of constitutions and constitutionalism.

About the Speaker

Dr Berihun Gebeye is a Lecturer in Law at the UCL Faculty of Laws. Prior to joining UCL Laws, he was a Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow under the Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Comparative Constitutionalism held by Prof. Dr. Ran Hirschl at the University of Göttingen. He held visiting positions at the Columbia Law School, the Center for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford, and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. He is a Visiting Professor at the Central European University Department of Legal Studies from which he earned an S.J.D./Ph.D. in Comparative Constitutional Law (summa cum laude). He is the author of “A Theory of African Constitutionalism” (OUP 2021).

About the Commentator

Image of Prof Erin Delaney
Erin F. Delaney (Cambridge (Ph.D.), NYU (J.D.) and Harvard (A.B.)) is Professor of Law at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and has an affiliated faculty position in Northwestern’s Department of Political Science. She has held the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in the Theory and Practice of Constitutionalism and Federalism at McGill University, as well as research fellowships at Edinburgh University and the Université Libre de Bruxelles.  Prior to her position at Northwestern, Prof Delaney served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter and to Second Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi.

Her scholarship explores constitutionalism in comparative perspective, with a focus on federalism and judicial design in federal systems.  With a background in both political science and law, she integrates a functionalist socio-political view into the more formalist frameworks presented in legal discourse.  While at UCL, Prof Delaney’s research will focus on the relationship between constitutional dynamism and democratic decay in the United Kingdom, and the viability of the political constitution as a mechanism of limiting governmental power.

Erin Delaney joins UCL Faculty of Laws as a Distinguished Visiting Professor atand will be with the Faculty until the end of June 2023.


Image of Assefa Fiseha

Assefa Fiseha (PhD, Professor) is a leading expert in comparative federalism and devolution in Africa and has been engaged in teaching and research in higher education since 1996. He has published numerous articles, book chapters and a book related to these fields 

Currently he is a PI in a three year project (2020-2023) entitled ‘addressing the crisis of governance in the Horn of Africa’. It is a research project conducted together with the University of Aberdeen (UK) and partner institutions in South Africa. It has both research and capacity building activities and an edited book with ten chapters has just been published in September 2022. https://www.routledge.com/Contemporary-Governance-Challenges-in-the-Horn-of-Africa/Fombad-Fiseha-Steytler/p/book/9781032207926

About the Group

The UCL Public Law Group is a community of scholars working in the field of public law, broadly understood. Our aim is to provide a supportive forum for the discussion and development of theoretical and doctrinal questions in constitutional theory, comparative constitutional law, human rights, judicial review, legal and political theory, and more. 

Read more about the group and its work.

Book your place

You can attend this event in-person at UCL Faculty of Laws (Bentham House, 4-8 Endsleigh Gardens, London WC1H 0EG) or allternatively you can join via a live stream.

Please make sure you choose the correct ticket when booking your place.

Book your place