Legal Pluralism: Its Promises and Pitfalls for Ethiopia
Jimma University Journal of Law, Vol. I, No.1, pp. 35-66, October 2007
23 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2009
Date Written: October 1, 2007
This article aims at analyzing the functioning and implementation of legal pluralism in the multinational federal set-up of Ethiopia. The first section explores the prevalent condition of legal pluralism in Ethiopia today. Through the study of the constitutional decentralization of legislative and adjudicatory authority that has been taking place in the country, elements of legal pluralism are identified and explained. The focus is on structural pluralism, particularly state constitutionalism. In the second section, another aspect of legal pluralism is analyzed, formal legal pluralism. Finally, arguments are marshaled, on the basis of the empirical case selected for analysis, the abbo-gerreb of Wejerat and Raya-Azebo, in support of the proposal to redraw the current frontiers of formal legal pluralism in order to create enough public space where the dominant non-state actors carry out their traditional functions of legislation and adjudication with respect to criminal matters. It is important to note that the thrust of the article’s argument rests upon two premises: one is that the Ethiopian formal legal system fails to penetrate the country’s indigenous legal cultures; another is that such loss in the legitimacy has its roots in the country’s codification project of the 1960’s, which was marked by high influx of Western transplants.
Keywords: legal pluralism, federalism, human rights, forum shopping, state constitutionalism, Ethiopia
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