African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 389

Full Length Research Paper

The protection of minority rights under regional constitutions in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia: The case of Tigray

Yohannes Mamo
Department of Political Science and Strategic Studies, College of Law and Governance, Mekelle University, Ethiopia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Received: 20 September 2015
  •  Accepted: 23 December 2015
  •  Published: 30 September 2017


The issues of minority rights have been given a significant concentration in the political discourses of today.  In traditional literatures and policy packages, the issues have been given a special emphasis pertaining to the protection of minority rights. Since the end of the World War II, many international instruments are adopted, declarations are domesticated; Ethiopia is a case in point. After the downfall of the Dergue; Ethiopia has ratified international human rights instrument like International Covenant on Civil and Political Right (hereafter ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (hereafter ICESCR) and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (ACHPR) . As it is determined to follow ethnic based federal system under the existing Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) constitution that acknowledges unity within diversity. On the other hand, some studies revealed that the existing legal and institutional mechanisms of accommodation have practical gaps to effectuate the intention up to the grass roots. In lieu of this, the study explores the status of minority rights in the Tigray Regional State Constitution and its practical correlates on the Irob people in Eastern Tigray, and Kunama people in Western Tigray. In doing this, it takes a sample of three Tabias from two Weredas/ District in Kunama and the whole Wereda from Irob based on a purposive sampling technique. Consequently, the result of this study indicated that constitutionally, the Tigray National Regional State (TNRS) recognizes the existence of the Irob and Kunama people at least with the establishment of their local administration. Nevertheless, this notable achievement and the actual practice are not without limitation. Hence, ensuring of self-administration for the Irob people is simply the same as the other Werdas of Tigray; they are not treated as special Wereda to exercise their right. Given that constitutional recognition of minorities is not an end by itself; it needs to be supported by appropriate legal documents with its practical correlate of sustaining it, as it deemed required. However, there is no guaranteed special consideration for the representation of Irob and Kunama people in the Regional council and other Regional governmental institutions. Finally, the study suggests that the Tigray National Regional State should open legal and institutional rooms for the protection of minority rights that enable them to enjoy their rights and play roles in the existing federal system.

Key words: Ethiopia, Tigray, Federal Constitution, Regional Constitution, minority rights.