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Bills of Rights and DecolonizationThe Emergence of Domestic Human Rights Instruments in Britain's Overseas Territories$
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Charles Parkinson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199231935

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199231935.001.0001

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(p.103) 5 Ghana
Bills of Rights and Decolonization

Charles O.H. Parkinson

Oxford University Press

When Ghana achieved independence on 6 March 1957, it was the first British territory in sub-Saharan Africa to be granted independence under African rule. For this reason, there was intense pressure to ensure that the transfer of power took place smoothly and the government of independent Ghana had a viable constitution. But the result was a rushed and haphazard constitution-making process as the Colonial Office struggled to develop coherent policies on decolonization against the backdrop of African nationalism. Although Ghana's independence constitution did not contain a bill of rights, the question of whether to include a bill of rights received sustained consideration. Ghana marked a turning point for Colonial Office attitudes on the value and subsequent use of bills of rights in independence constitutions. Most significantly, the Colonial Office decided that the political benefits of reconciling the minority groups to independence outweighed the legal detriments of having a bill of rights in an independence constitution.

Keywords:   bill of rights, independence, British Empire, decolonization, Colonial Office, constitution-making

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