School of Law holds Thematic Conference on Revisiting of Constitutional Framing

Addis Ababa University School of Law (SoL) in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), organized a Thematic Conference on “Revisiting the Framing of the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia: A Closer look at the Travaux Préparatoires of the Making Process” at Hilton Addis Hotel on the 17th of October 2022.

Biruk Haile (PhD), Head of SoL indicated in his opening speech that the conference was intended to create a platform for researches and experts to discuss on issues which were hotly debated during the making of the 1995 Constitution with a view to drawing lessons from it.

According to Dr. Biruk, the conference will help participants to understand the basic assumptions of the constitution as they grapple to understand the assumptions of the drafters of the constitution after 27 years of its implementation.

Some of the contents of the 1995 Constitution are controversial and couldn’t be understood by many to date. The research papers and in-depth studies on the making of the constitution, even though they may not address all the controversial issues, will give the conference participants some space for discussion,” Dr. Biruk finally said.

Belachew Mekuria (PhD), from School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University, in his online presentation highlighted some of the contentious points raised during the constituent assembly debate that focused on the naming of the country, colour of the flag and the structure of the government to be adopted.

Dr. Belachew in his presentation entitled, ‘Remaking Ethiopia: Documenting the Conversations of the 1994 Constituent Assembly’, also covered topics of discussion including key women’s rights of nations, nationalities, and people as well as the question of land ownership.

Getachew Assefa (PhD), from the College of Law and Governance Studies at AAU, presented on “The Bill of Rights of the Ethiopian Constitution: Sources and Framings”.

Dr. Getachew, in his presentation indicated that the Constitutional Commission, established by a proclamation in 1992, was not given an explicit mandate to look into foreign law or even international human rights law, but it was not restricted from doing so in reality.

According to Dr. Getachew, allocating adequate time to fully discuss possible controversial matters, allowing sufficient time for the public and experts to make effective participation, and exercising constitution-expert driven drafting process are some of the lessons that can be drawn from the 1995 constitution making activities.

Belachew Girma, from Lawyers for Human Rights, indicated in his presentation that the consideration of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples as authors of the constitution, justified the granting of the power to interpret the constitution to the House of Federation (HoF).

Belachew’s perspective emanated from “Constitutional Review design under FDRE Constitution: Examining the Framer’s Intention in Practical Realities” focused on the intention of the drafters on the constitutional review.

Finally, a presentation entitled, “Constitutional Interpretation in Ethiopia: Perils of Cohabitation of CCI and HOF” was delivered by Mr. Kelali Kiros who is a Team Leader at FDRE Council of Constitutional Inquiry.

Mr. Kelali covered the access mechanisms for constitutional interpretation and the interplay between the Council of Constitutional Inquiry and the House of Federation.