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Law and Governance in Africa


Admission requirements

This course is suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students in Law, Social Sciences, Public Administration, History, Arts.


Good governance, human rights, the rule of law: in these days law and governance are often presented as the remedy against ‘the African condition’. During this course we explore the complex relations between law, governance and change in Africa. What role, for instance, did law play in the colonisation process?

What does the changing place of the state in Africa – constrained by the international legal and socio-political system, challenged by chieftaincies and decentralized local governments – mean for the ability to bring about change through the law? How do other legal systems – religious, customary, NGO-law, international human rights – interact with this state law, for instance when it comes to the management of natural resources like land and water?

We do not only look at conceptual tools to understand the relation between law and societal change, but also at selected case studies: the new relevance of traditional authorities in Africa, the management of land in Ghana, successes and failures of legal development cooperation and the revival of traditional courts to deal with the genocide in Rwanda are amongst them. As such, this course is as much about the relation between law and society in the contemporary world as it is about the present condition of Africa.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course:

  • To be announced

Achievement levels:

  • The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:


See: .

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 10

  • Names of lecturers: Ms. J. Ubink and guest lecturers

  • Required preparation by students:

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Written exam.

Areas to be tested within the exam

  • Reader and lecture notes


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • None


  • Reader, available at Onderwijsmaterialen (KOG, room A.045)


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact details

  • Coordinator: Ms. J. Ubink

  • Work address: KOG, room B3.18

  • Contact information: By appointment through email

  • Telephone number: +31 (0)71-527 7262

  • E-mail:


  • Institution: Metajuridica / Jurisprudence

  • Division: Van Vollenhoven Instituut

  • Room number secretariat: KOG, room B3.13

  • Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 9:00-12:30 and 13:30-16:00

  • Telephone number secretariat: +31 (0)71-527 7769

  • E-mail: