Constitutional right to secession and ethnic nationalism in Ethiopia
Author(s): Timothy Ubelejit Nte
Abstract: The recent devastating conflicts in Ethiopia (2020-2023) have brought to question the rationale and practicability of the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia (ECS); with specificity to the right of secession and ethnic nationalism. The ECS was at the time of adoption exclusive in the world as the only constitution that unequivocally granted constitutional right to secession. The specific objective of the study is to examine the uniqueness of constitutional right to secession and ethnic nationalism of Ethiopia in the light of inevitable constraints and huddles. In accordance, the study is guided by the following research questions. What is the nature of ethnic nationalism in Ethiopia? Why is Ethiopia’s constitutional secession unique? What are the constraints of Ethiopia’s constitutional secession? The voluntarist theory of national self-determination as propounded by Harry Beran is the theoretical framework of this study. Qualitative method is the research methodology of the study. The study found out that secession is regarded as an aberration and unlawful atrocity that is excluded as well as prohibited in the constitution of other countries in the world but not in the ECS. The study concludes that the ECS is potentially a terminal-venom of disintegration for Ethiopia. However, the specification and procedures for ECS as embedded in Article 39 of Ethiopia’s constitution, pose major constraints and impediments that would regulate the ulterior motive and shortcomings of the ECS. The study recommends that the constitution of Ethiopia should be respected to maintain the peace which the ‘coming together’ and ‘holding together’ equation provides.