Constitutional adjudication in Ethiopia: Exploring the experience of the House of Federation (HoF)
AbstractEthiopia has adopted a federal system de facto since 1991, and de jure since 1995 with a view to decentralizing power and resources from the center and to accommodate the diverse ethno-linguistic groups that exist in the country. As constitutionally entrenched division of power between federal and state governments is at the bedrock federalism and as the division of powers often is far from clear, it is inherent in any federal system that there must be an organ for the adjudication of constitutional issues and for the settlement of disputes concerning the competence of the two levels of governments. In the 1995 Ethiopian federal constitution, this task is entrusted to the nonlegislative second chamber, otherwise known as the House of Federation (HoF). This article attempts to review the experience of the HoF ever since its establishment by assessing the relevant Ethiopian laws and the decisions of the HoF. With this in view the first sections are devoted, though briefly, to the discussion of the varied practices adopted in some constitutional systems. The remaining sections discuss the underlying reasons for the adoption in the 1995 federal Constitution of Ethiopia, the HoF as a unique institution for the adjudication of disputes and explore its jurisdiction vis-à-vis the judiciary and analyse its achievements and challenges. The general trend observed is that despite institutional and pragmatic challenges, the HoF has over the years evolved as a legitimate body for the settlement of disputes at least as far as issues of high political and constitutional significance are concerned. This article further discusses the extent to which the role of the judiciary has been affected owing to the role of the HoF.
a) Copyright of the content of the articles shall be retained by the author subject to the condition that it cannot be republished in another journal. The reproduction of the article as book chapter requires the acknowledgement of its prior publication in Mizan Law Review.
b) An author is entitled to deposit her/his published article in any Open Access repository subject to the condition that the format and layout shall not be changed. Depositing a post-publication version in any repository requires acknowledgement of the earlier version by indicating the Volume, Issue and page numbers of the version published in Mizan Law Review.
c) Articles published in Mizan Law Review are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)
a) Where the Editorial Team deems it necessary, the editors may remove precise reference to names of individuals in case comments.
b) The names and email addresses submitted to and published in Mizan Law Review shall not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party.
Opinions expressed in articles, comments, case comments and sharing thoughts do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Team, or the publisher of the journal, i.e., Center for Law in Sustainable Development, St. Mary’s University.