Journal of
Law and Conflict Resolution

  • Abbreviation: J. Law Conflict. Resolut
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9804
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLCR
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 102


Exploring the challenges and limits in the compliance with transitional justice norm in non-regime transitions: The case of post-2018 Ethiopia

Legide Kinkino Kia
  • Legide Kinkino Kia
  • Hawassa University School of Law, Hawassa, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 10 February 2022
  •  Accepted: 28 April 2022
  •  Published: 30 June 2022


The last decades witnessed the emergence of transitional justice as a global norm which obliges post-conflict transitioning states to address systematic past human rights violations through purposeful judicial and non-judicial mechanisms. While its typical architecture focused on formal transitions, the dynamics of non-regime transitions and compliance is often neglected in transitional justice literature, and the measures also signify manifold challenges. This article attempted to assess the beleaguered transitional justice measures implemented in Ethiopia’s current troubled non-regime transition which came after the authoritarian and Marxist TPLF/EPRDF regime collapsed in 2018 after violent anti-government protest. Consequently, under the new hybrid elites’ leadership, host of justice measures were implemented but they unfolded in the absence of both typical transition and guiding transition roadmap. Through the lens of compliance and resistance in transitional justice, the article finds that rather than addressing legacies of atrocious past, the flawed and instrumentalist implementation of contested justice processes and the mismanagement of the narrow window of opportunity led to unprecedented societal violence and new political complexities. The Ethiopian case, therefore, reveals that seeking the retributive transitional justice measure in the absence of typical regime change and inter-elites bargain, and in an ethnically polarized political transition exacerbate inter-elite discord, bolster ethnic-supported resistance from predecessor elites, and harbor the risk of resurgence of new violence. Hence, it falls short of achieving the compliance with the transitional justice norm such as ensuring accountability (fighting impunity), adequately addressing past wrongs through judicial and non-judicial means and also ensuring non-recurrence of the same in the future.


Key words: Transitional justice, compliance, challenges, Ethiopia, non-regime transition.