Balancing Representation: Special Representation Mechanisms Addressing the Imbalance of Marginalized Voices in African Legislatures


This report focuses on four different mechanisms designed to provide marginalized groups in Africa with improved legislative representation at the national level. These special representation mechanisms include: proportional representation, guaranteed minority seating, advisory bodies and affirmative gerrymandering . These tools appear a beneficial means through which nations may eliminate discrimination, better safeguard the interests of marginalized people, boost opportunity for political expression and place each member of society on equal footing.

To situate this discussion in its proper context, this paper explores relevant international law, the case for and against special representation and the myriad problems that arise in attempting to characterize issues relating to marginalized groups in Africa. Turning to an analysis of the four specific mechanisms, numerous cases of African nations that have, in theory or practice, sought to employ these mechanisms are examined. Finally, this paper offers several conclusions and policy suggestions.


Comparative and Foreign Law | International Law

Date of this Version

November 2004