Conflict Management in the Ethiopian Multi-national Federation: A Critical Examination

96 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2009

See all articles by Alemayehu F Weldemariam

Alemayehu F Weldemariam

LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin; Suffolk University

Date Written: February 27, 2009


Both policy-makers and scholars have turned their attention to federalism - or decentralized governance - as a means for managing conflict between central governments and sub-national groups as well as conflict among sub-national groups themselves. Both the theoretical literature and the empirical track record of federations point to federalism’s ability to manage conflicts of diversity and preserve peace. More particularly, multi-national federalism has considerable, albeit critical support, among contemporary academics (Hechter 2000, Linz 1997, Keating 2001, Kymlicka, 1998, Kymlicka 2001, Moore 2001, Stepan 1999, Watts 1999, McGarry and O’Leary 1993, O’Leary 2001).This paper argues that multi-national federalism is the sure way to peace and development in Ethiopia, as it is the only way to manage the Ethiopian ethnic diversity peacefully, democratically and respectfully. The paper attempts to explore the evolution of Ethiopian multi-national federation against the back drop of its recent political and legal history. Given its history of gross and systematic group domination and discrimination (ethnic, religious, linguistic, etc.), the adoption of a multi-national federation is not a luxury that Ethiopia can afford but a necessity. The adoption of a multi-national federation was necessitated by the urgency and intensity of the need to address the claims of the country’s ethnic groups of historic discrimination and inequality, and to build a multi-national democracy. The multi-national nature of the new Ethiopian federation can be gathered from the following three sites. First, the 1995 Federal constitution vests sovereign powers with the nations, nationalities, and peoples of the country (Article 8). Second, the Federal constitution entitles the nations, nationalities, and peoples the right to self-determination including and up to secession (Article 39). Third, all Ethiopia’s nations, nationalities, and peoples have equal representation in the House of Federation (HoF), which is vested with the ultimate power to interpret the constitution (Article 39 cum 61-62). The paper aims to explore the institutions, policies, and practices of conflict management in the context of Ethiopian multi-national federation.

Keywords: Ethiopia, multi-national federalism, conflict management, coflict studies

Suggested Citation

Weldemariam, Alemayehu F, Conflict Management in the Ethiopian Multi-national Federation: A Critical Examination (February 27, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Alemayehu F Weldemariam (Contact Author)

LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States
206 446 1432 (Phone)

Suffolk University ( email )

Boston, MA 02108
United States


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