The ANCL was established in 1997 under the auspices of the IACL, with Prof Babacar Kanté, Vice President of the Senegalese Constitutional Court and a member of the IACL Executive Committee, as convenor. Between 1997 and 2000, the ANCL organised two symposia and published two issues of its bulletin. Owing to funding and communications problems, however, it thereafter ceased to operate.
In April 2006 a group of constitutional scholars and jurists from across Africa met in Cape Town to discuss the revival of the ANCL. Judge Babacar Kanté convened the meeting. Also present at the Cape Town meeting were other members of the IACL Executive Committee, including the President of the IACL, Prof Cheryl Saunders; the Secretary-General, Prof Theunis Roux; and the Anglophone representative of sub-Saharan Africa on the IACL Executive Committee (EC), Prof Christina Murray.
Plans to revive the ANCL have been underway for several years, within the EC of the IACL. The meetings in Cape Town and Nairobi were the culmination of this process. The immediate catalyst for the timing of the Nairobi meeting, however, was the approach of the 7th IACL World Congress of Constitutional Law, which was held in Athens in June 2007. It was considered imperative that African constitutional scholars and African constitutional perspectives be adequately represented at this event.
At the Cape Town meeting, it was agreed that an essential first step in reviving the ANCL would be to hold a conference for African constitutionalists, well in advance of the World Congress. This conference was held in Nairobi in April 2007. It was successful by every measure and began the process of building links among African constitutionalists from Anglophone, Lusophone and Francophone Africa, and it provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on issues of current importance for rights and constitutionalism in Africa. At the conference, the new organisational aspects of the re-launched ANCL were put in place: new office bearers were elected, the University of Cape Town was identified as the home of the secretariat, and a programme for future action was determined.