Joint research project finalized with book on challenges of human rights implementation in Ethiopia

4. March 2021
group foto of workshop participants with participants standing in front banner
The Advanced academic partnership for legal and human rights education AAPLHRE was designed and implemented during a time when human rights were under much pressure in Ethiopia.

Legislation put severe limits on the work of NGOs with foreign funding, particularly in the human rights and governance fields. In a sense, the higher education institutions filled a void and stepped up where the work of human rights NGOs had become increasingly difficult.

The AAPLHRE project activities were designed to provide a platform for dialogue and exchange between government, civil society and academia and a training opportunity for key actors of society and potential drivers of reforms. There was also the hope that this would prepare the ground for necessary reforms in the future once those would become possible.

Mindful of the international, regional and national perspectives our consortium had to offer, a joint problem-oriented research as one central project component. The research was designed with the objective of assessing how the implementation of international human rights commitments plays out in Ethiopia in difficult times for human rights. The research was a tripartite endeavor that engaged all project partners from the outset.

23 abstracts of young and renowned researchers from all over Ethiopia were presented in a joint research workshop held in February 2017 in Addis Abeba. Selected papers were developed into full-fledged articles, that were discussed in another research workshop taking place from 10-13 January 2018. Of these, 13 qualified submissions were accepted as standard research outputs, edited, commented up on, revised, and finally published. Edited by three professors from the tripartite consortium, the edited volume on Implementation of International Human Rights Commitments and Implications on Ongoing Legal Reforms in Ethiopia was published in 2020 by a renowned international publishing house, i.e. Brill. It addresses key themes of contemporary interest focused on identifying the gaps between Ethiopia’s human rights commitments and the practical problems associated with the realisation of human rights goals. Political and legal challenges affecting implementation at the domestic levels continue in Ethiopia - the nature and complexity of which are thoroughly expounded in this volume. This edition uncovers key challenges involving civil and political rights, socio-economic rights and cultural and institutional dimensions of the implementation of human rights in Ethiopia, while the country is absorbed in legal and political reforms to which the book also makes a contribution.

The problem-oriented research helped in building the research capacity of the Ethiopian institutions on issues of contemporary relevance and certainly contributes to the country’s development endeavor in the fields of human rights, gender and governance, which are core objectives of the AAPLHRE program. The book launch was scheduled to take place in Addis Abeba in March 2020 and should have also marked the closing event of the AAPLHRE project. However, as the COVID pandemic did unfold, the book launch was postponed several times and finally took place virtually on 19 November 2020 in the presence of the editors, partners from the consortium and the Head of the Austrian Development Cooperation Office in Addis Ababa, Stefan Hlavac. The published copies are being distributed to authors and key stakeholder institutions, including universities, since December 2020.

Wolfgang Benedek, Tadesse Kassa Woldetsadik, Tesfaye Abate Abebe (eds.), Implementation of International Human Rights Commitments and the Impact on Ongoing Legal Reforms in Ethiopia, Leiden: Brill/Boston: Nijhoff, 2020