Research team

Development processes, actors and policies

Expertise

My research covers development political governance in Africa, with a particular focus on Burundi. Thematic areas of interest include: law and development; transitional justice; constitutional law and history; peace and conflict; human rights.

Statebuilding support to fragile states. The interplay between European engagement and domestic legitimation during the 2015 electoral cycle in Burundi: a temporal analysis. 01/10/2020 - 17/03/2022

Abstract

Over the past two decades, statebuilding has emerged as a central yet contested concept of international engagement with fragile states, with new questions arising under the current global rise of authoritarianism. To remain in power, what are the mechanisms authoritarian regimes rely on to legitimate themselves? And what is the nature of interplay between these legitimation mechanisms and international engagement? These are the questions this research aims to answer, through exploratory within-case analysis. The research focusses on European statebuilding support to Burundi throughout the 2015 elections. While these elections sparked a legitimacy crisis, they did not prevent further consolidation of authoritarian rule. The applicant's preliminary findings point towards distinct stages of interplay between European engagement and domestic legitimation, following a shift from support to contestation of the incumbent regime. This shift, in turn, triggered notable changes in domestic legitimation, revealing both clear yet unexpected regime agency and the tactical use of time and temporality. Two provisional conclusions can be drawn from this. First, European actors have dealt inadequately with the legitimacy dimension of state fragility, and second, through the interplay with domestic legitimation they seem to have contributed to authoritarian regime consolidation. Process tracing, a suited method for inferring causality, will be used to further refine and conclude the analysis. test

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Phase III partner programme for Institutional University Cooperation with Université de Burundi (2017-2020) 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

This project is the third phase of a long term, institutional cooperation programme between a number of Flemish universities and the public university 'Université du Burundi', based in Bujumbura. The programme spans a period of ten years in total, ending with this third phase, and covers five different areas of scientific cooperation, including law, agronomy, physics, medecine and ICT. In addition, the project contributes to capacity-building of the partner university in its research capacities, i.a. through the establishment of a Doctoral School (Ecole doctorale). The project is part of the VLIR-UOS country programme with Burundi.

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Perceptions of the Self and the Other in contemporary Burundi. The salience of ethnicity in everyday interactions in a post-transition context. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

Since independence (1962), the 'ethnic' conflict between Hutu and Tutsi in Burundi led to thousands of deaths on both sides. In 2000, the signature of the Arusha peace agreement inaugurated a transition period towards peace and democracy. Thanks to the agreement, political competition was de-ethnicized, and political parties no longer represented a single ethnic group. At the local level, people could progressively return to their occupations. Despite the absence of violence, these people had to deal with the consequences of war and ethnic violence. Given the circumstances of poverty, most of them opted for a peaceful cohabitation with those who perpetrated violence. The results obtained so far have been undermined by the 2015 crisis, which followed President Nkurunziza's unconstitutional bid for the third term. During the crisis, ethnic hatred has been injected in the political discourse, and started circulating in some milieus. Some responsiveness to ethnic appeals still existed. The question is whether, to what extent and how ordinary citizens are responsive to such discourses. Our research aims to understand the meaning and salience of ethnicity in Burundi's contemporary socio-political context. This will contribute to a better understanding of ethnicity, and will illuminate the dynamics of change in the meaning and salience of ethnicity. This will be relevant for scholars and policy-makers concerned with similar dynamics in other post-transition countries.

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Perceptions of the Self and the Other in contemporary Burundi. The salience of ethnicity in everyday interactions in a post-transition context 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

Since independence (1962), the 'ethnic' conflict between Hutu and Tutsi in Burundi led to thousands of deaths on both sides. In 2000, the signature of the Arusha peace agreement inaugurated a transition period towards peace and democracy. Thanks to the agreement, political competition was de-ethnicized, and political parties no longer represented a single ethnic group. At the local level, people could progressively return to their occupations. Despite the absence of violence, these people had to deal with the consequences of war and ethnic violence. Given the circumstances of poverty, most of them opted for a peaceful cohabitation with those who perpetrated violence. The results obtained so far have been undermined by the 2015 crisis, which followed President Nkurunziza's unconstitutional bid for the third term. During the crisis, ethnic hatred has been injected in the political discourse, and started circulating in some milieus. Some responsiveness to ethnic appeals still existed. The question is whether, to what extent and how ordinary citizens are responsive to such discourses. Our research aims to understand the meaning and salience of ethnicity in Burundi's contemporary socio-political context. This will contribute to a better understanding of ethnicity, and will illuminate the dynamics of change in the meaning and salience of ethnicity. This will be relevant for scholars and policy-makers concerned with similar dynamics in other post-transition countries.

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Partner Program for Institutional University Cooperation between the University of Burundi and the Flemish universities, Phase II (2014-2016). 01/01/2016 - 31/03/2017

Abstract

This project represents a formal service agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Human Rights for Development (HR4DEV). 16/08/2015 - 12/09/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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The norms and practices of the African Union on the promotion of constitutional governance: a legal analysis. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

The objective of this research it to examine the norms, policies and practices developed by the African Union related to the promotion of constitutional rule in its member states. The research is in line with an international trend of increased scholarly attention for collective action towards peace, security, stability and democratic state-building in Africa. The research will contribute to a conceptual clarification of the notion of constitutionalism in the particular context of states and societies with a history of military coups and armed conflict and, very often, a lack of widely shared constitutional values. The work also contributes to the scholarship on the role of intergovernmental institutions in fostering political integration. Essentially, the research examines (1) the emerging normative framework of the AU on constitutional rule; (2) the rationale behind it; (3) the implementation of these norms, with particular attention for (i) the enforcement and sanctioning mechanisms (legal, but also political and diplomatic), and (ii) the interplay between the international and domestic legal order. In addition to its academic relevant, the research is also policy-relevant and will allow for more knowledge-based interventions in the area of rule of law promotion. In particular, it will allow for a better understanding of the merits and constraints of top-down legal and political engineering of constitutional rule in africa. The results of this research will contribute to the development of normative guidelines which may be used by policy-makers at national and international level in order to develop a sustainable and coherent culture of constitutional governance.

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Project website

Human Rights for Development (HR4DEV). 27/07/2014 - 22/08/2014

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Power-sharing and human rights. 01/08/2012 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

The project will consider, both from a theoretical as well as from a policy-oriented perspective, the constraints and opportunities of a human rights approach to power-sharing agreements, which have become the dominant mode of conflict resolution in Sub-Sahara Africa.

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    The legal dimension of development: a partnership between the Refugee Law Project (Makerere University) and the Research Group on Law and Development (Antwerp University). 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2013

    Abstract

    The overall objectives of the SI" are (i) to promote knowledge - at the level of both partners as weil as the wider academic and soeietal constituencies in which they operate - obout the legal dimensions of dellelopment, and (ii) to enhonce the effectiveness of deve!opment interventions through the use of law. This wiJl be done through joint initiatives (under the three classica I functions of a university: education, research and service delivery) taken on the basis of a partnership between a Northern and a Southern partner in which both have the same degree of ownership and in which both benefit from exchanges that go in two directions.

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    A legal study of power-sharing as an instrument of conflict resolution. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2013

    Abstract

    The proposed research aims at conducting an in-depth legal analysis of the technique of power-sharing which is increasingly being called upon by peace negotiators and included in peace accords that put an end to (internal) armed conflicts. The research will, first of all, study the legal qualification of power-sharing ¿ as a component of the wider peace accord ¿ under international law. In addition, the incorporation of the political agreement on power-sharing into the national (in particular constitutional) law of the countries concerned will be thoroughly analyzed. Finally, the proposed research will conduct a scientific analysis of the powersharing agreements from a human rights perspective.

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