Crossed Wires: Issues of Sovereignty, Community and Civilisation During Ethiopia's Accession to the League of Nations’
Norman Domeier et al. (eds) Intra-Trans-Supra? Legal Relations and Power Structures in History (Saarbrücken: Akademikerverlag, 2011): 76-89.
15 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2014
Date Written: September 29, 2011
This chapter argues that the differences between orthodox international legal and Ethiopian conceptions of sovereignty and civilisation were consistently lost in translation during Ethiopia’s diplomatic encounter with the League of Nations, and especially during the Crisis of 1935-36. In the first place, the conditions attached to Ethiopia’s membership of the League can be linked directly to an inability on the part of inter-war international law, as institutionalised in the League, to recognise and respect the existence of a specifically Ethiopian conception of sovereignty. Second, the Abyssinian conception of civilisation as a process of cultural transformation made it possible of Ethiopia to present itself as equal in cultural terms to European states, and inferior to them only in material – that is, developmental and hence rectifiable terms.
Keywords: Sovereignty, civilisation, civilization, statehood, Ethiopia, League of Nations
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