Multi-level Approaches to Countering Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa: Implications for the Rule of Law
This article assesses the impact of multi-level approaches to the problem of unconstitutional changes of government (UCGs) on the rule of law at the national and global level. Based on a single-case study of the 2016 Gambian UCG, this article concludes that multi-level governance tends to strengthen the rule of law at the national level, but only if certain conditions are met. These include an agreement about the rules of the road regulating how the different layers of governance interact – subsidiarity v. precedence for organizations from higher levels of governance – and the definition of a common purpose. Such unity of purpose is easier to attain if the (geo)political stakes of a crisis are relatively low, the prospects of success of a military intervention high, and if the perpetrators of the UCG have forfeited their legitimacy both locally and globally. This prevents them from exploiting institutional rivalries and shrinks their space for diplomatic manoeuvre and thus their ability to use forum shopping for their benefit. If these conditions are met, then multi-level responses to UCG will strengthen the rule of law at the domestic level, while at the same time potentially undermining the rule of law at the global level.