Add to watchlist


67657-01 - Seminar: Coup d’État! The Persistence and African Fight Against Unconstitutional Changes of Government 3 CP

Semester spring semester 2023
Course frequency Once only
Lecturers Michael Aeby (, Assessor)
Content The frequency of coup d’états in Africa declined dramatically after the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) adopted a policy of non-tolerance vis-à-vis unconstitutional changes of government in the 2000 Lomé Declaration. The African Union (AU) subsequently enshrined the non-tolerance of coups in its Constitutive Act and elaborated measures to prevent coups in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. In the past 20 years, the AU very consistently applied the anti-coup norm by suspending the AU membership of coup regimes, imposing sanctions against perpetrators and facilitating transitions to restore the constitutional order. Yet coup d’états have anything but disappeared in the 21st Century and surged in recent years, with no less than eight African governments being overthrown since 2019.
The objective of the seminar is to better understand the persistence of coups in Africa. To this end, the seminar examines structural conditions and immediate triggers of different types of unconstitutional changes of government that may emanate from the military, armed insurgencies, electoral stalemates, power struggles within regimes and popular uprisings. Furthermore, the seminar seeks to assess strategies and limitations of the continental fight against coups by examining how the AU and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) responded to unconstitutional changes of government that took place in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Egypt, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Sudan, Togo and Zimbabwe between 2003 and 2022. We will discuss up to 21 coups depending on the number of participants.
Learning objectives - Acquire advanced expertise on contemporary coup d’états in Africa and their causes.
- Acquire advanced expertise on policies and practices of the AU and RECs to fight unconstitutional changes of government.
- Basic knowledge of the history and politics of eleven coup-affected African countries.
- Learn about different methodological, theoretical and disciplinary approaches to researching coups, including qualitative and quantitative research in Comparative Politics, African history, Political Economy, International Relations and Peace and Conflict Studies.
- Acquire conflict analysis skills by analysing structural conditions, triggers and actors of coups.
- Acquire policy analysis skills by studying AU and REC policy documents and the application of policies.
- Improve qualitative comparative research skills by comparing country cases.
- Improve writing skills by writing an essay and an optional seminar paper.
- Improve presentation skills by presenting essay and giving short presentation on comparative themes.
- Learn about different types and purposes of academic and policy research publications on the reading


Language of instruction English
Use of digital media No specific media used


Interval weekly
Date 24.02.2023 – 02.06.2023
Time Friday, 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Date Time Room
Friday 24.02.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 03.03.2023 10.15-11.45 Fasnachstferien
Friday 10.03.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 17.03.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 24.03.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 31.03.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 07.04.2023 10.15-11.45 Ostern
Friday 14.04.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 21.04.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 28.04.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 05.05.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 12.05.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 19.05.2023 10.15-11.45 Auffahrt
Friday 26.05.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Friday 02.06.2023 10.15-11.45 Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.002
Modules Modul: Areas: Afrika (Master's degree program European History in Global Perspective)
Modul: Basics: Politics (Master's degree program African Studies)
Modul: Erweiterung Gesellschaftswissenschaften M.A. (Master's degree subject Political Science)
Modul: Fields: Governance and Politics (Master's degree program African Studies)
Module: Conflicts and Peacebuilding (Master's degree program Changing Societies: Migration – Conflicts – Resources)
Vertiefungsmodul Global Europe: Staatlichkeit, Entwicklung und Globalisierung (Master's Studies: European Global Studies)
Assessment format continuous assessment
Assessment details Participants of this seminar are required to write and present a 3,000 words-long essay on a coup in one of the below meetings. The essay and twenty-minute presentation should, firstly, highlight structural conditions, immediate triggers, perpetrators and the key events of the coup. Secondly, the essays must discuss how the AU and relevant REC managed the unconstitutional change of government. In the last two meetings that serve to compare the discussed coups, the participants will give five-minute presentations on specific features of the coups and the regional responses. Participants are expected to read the below listed essential literature in preparation of meetings and attend the seminar regularly. Presenters may use the listed recommended readings, key documents and additional scholarly readings to prepare essays and presentations. Participants have the option to write a seminar paper on a pertinent topic of their choosing.
Assessment registration/deregistration Reg.: course registration; dereg.: not required
Repeat examination no repeat examination
Scale Pass / Fail
Repeated registration no repetition
Responsible faculty Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,
Offered by Zentrum für Afrikastudien