JASSD - Journal of African Studies and Sustainable Development (Vol. 5 No. 3, 2022) LAW AS IDENTITY: A PANACEA FOR AFRICA'S REGIONAL AND CONTINENTAL INTEGRATION OKOLI, Hilary Chukwuduruo, Ph.D


The positivists’ conception of law in its multifaceted presentations such as Raz’s idea of law as an authority or the imperatives as the command, Hart’s notion of law as the social control of behavior, and Dworkinian’s thesis of law as integrity, have remained dominant in jurisprudence and admittedly has influenced several legal systems. However, as noted in the extant literature, such a conception of law takes a top-down legalistic approach; making law somewhat sterile, rather than a phenomenon that is viable and generates interesting outcomes. The positivists’ conception of law limits the function of law to commanding obedience and ensuring social control, reducing as it were the agency of the individual for whom the law is enacted. This paper takes off from this limitation of the positivists’ conception of law, to advance the concept of law as identity; a panacea for Africa's regional and continental integration. Law as identity highlights the status of the law as a phenomenon that is enlivened through performativity and belongingness. Law as identity is the performative expression of belongingness an agent demonstrates through their cognitive and affective domains of the shared belief in the legitimacy of a legal system; the recognition of acceptance of one’s true inner self and the outer world of social rules and norms; the dialectical legal consciousness of the various shades of meaning in the community legal consciousness that is reasonably requiring the attention of performativity as a result of the agent’s belongingness. The hermeneutic method is used and was significant for the interpretative dimensions of the dialectics associated with the concept of law. The paper argues that legal concepts such as statutes, judicial precedent, and legal propositions are categories to be understood and roles to be performed by the agent in other to accentuate the concept of law as identity. Such conceptualization of law would help abate the challenges associated with social justice, and enhance regional and continental integration insofar as the requirement that makes for social justice is already part of the agent's lived experience.

Keywords: Law, Positivism, Concept, Performativity, Belongingness, Identity, Legal, System, Agent

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