Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Leslie Paik

Subject Categories

Africana Studies | African Languages and Societies | Comparative and Foreign Law | Constitutional Law | International Humanitarian Law | International Relations | Politics and Social Change


Political stability, Guinea-Bissau, constitution, Africa, democracy


The enactment of law is not to be confused with the rule of law, and simply having a constitution does not guarantee political order. In Guinea-Bissau there have been calls to write a new constitution, but whether that helps Guinea-Bissau become a more stable country is questionable. Currently, there is a gap in the research of social science, history and political science examining how the processes of instability have unfolded in Guinea-Bissau. Few studies attempt to examine the correlation between a country’s stability and its constitution. A paradoxical situation exists in many countries in Africa where the political system is characterized by the existence of a constitution, and yet principles of constitutionalism are nowhere to be found in everyday life. This thesis analyzes the correlation between constitutional reform debate and instability in Guinea-Bissau. The thesis begins with a definition of constitution, followed by legal and social science thought on constitutions. Second, this thesis offers an answer to the research question: what is specific about Guinea-Bissau’s historical, societal, economical and organizational context that causes instability? Third, this thesis answers the question: if constitutional reform is not enough to make Guinea-Bissau stable, what else is needed? This thesis explores the function of law in the debate around Guinea-Bissau’s constitutional reform.