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The Quest for Identity and Self-Determination in the SNNP Region of Ethiopia

Beza Dessalegn
Nigussie Afesha


The rich ethnic diversity in the SNNP region is being managed by different mechanisms of constitutional, institutional, and political practice. Yet, this has not been able to contain new questions of identity, not only seeking for recognition as a distinct ethnic group, but also a desire to establish ethnic territorial administrations. Moreover, ethnic groups that are already recognized are also laying claims to various self-determination rights, inter alia, to territorial autonomy, equitable participation, and the redrawing of internal (ethnic) boundaries. Based on legal analysis of cases from the SNNP region, the article critically discusses the quest for identity and self-determination, and provides an overview of the experience of the region. In dealing with the existing dilemma, we argue that there is a need to maintain the balance between constitutional rights to identity recognition and self-determination with the threat of ethnic and territorial fragmentations.

Key terms

Identity · Self-determination · Federalism · Ethnic groups · SNNP region