Crafting Our Own Rules! Constitutionality as a Bottom Up Process in Zambia and Mali

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"The paper outlines two institution-building processes in Zambia and in Mali in dryland areas where wetlands play a crucial role. Based on state regulations (by decentralization and participation) and on the negative outcome of legal and institutional pluralism in these two nation states different local actor groups realize that they will loose local common pool resources once managed by common property institutions because outside users now claim to be citizens of the state and therefore entitled to use state property resources accordingly. However, based on the combination of local strategies to mitigate this problem and local institutional opportunities proposed by the state and NGOs new legal forms could be used as a tool to increase local level involvement as to be illustrated in by-laws in the fishery context in Zambia and local conventions for forests and pasture in Mali. The paper explores the processes and the legal tools selected in the interchange between different local interest groups, local level state administration and NGOs involved. In the process of institution building local actors (as heterogeneous they are with regard to bargaining power) were gaining a sense of ownership of the legal tools by being able to define its content based on a combination of already locally developed institutions (customary common property regimes based on local knowledge, reciprocal access between groups and regulations based on local norms and religious worldviews) and new institutions (formalized by-laws, conventions etc) could evolve. The paper argues that this process provided a motivation in common pool resource governance for local people as the outcome represented the local perception of 'these are our own rules'. The papers also explores the options, process and local perception of this compromise and the limits of such an approach."
institutional change, fisheries, forestry, governance and politics