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The Concept of Self Determination

Info: 1744 words (7 pages) Law Essay
Published: 16th Jul 2019

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Jurisdiction(s): International Law


The concept of Self Determination has been developed after the end of the Second World War and the idea of self determination was supported by International law and formulated in the Charter of the United Nations Article 1 (2) of the United Nations Charter. Furthermore the principle of self determination was recognized in General Assembly Resolution adopted in 1960 (Resolution 1514), and 1970 (Resolution 2625). Both resolutions in principally addressed the issue of self determination. Eventually further the principle of self determination was presented in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), both Covenant emphasized self determination as a right of people and guaranteed it by the treaty law.

On this occasion we will discuss and criticize the implementation of the principles of self-determination, more specifically on issues of political rights (freedom of Association and participation in election) which are owned by the people and in general with regard to self-determination itself (Ethiopia people based on reports made by the Government of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on July 28, 2009).

This report is made in accordance with the orders as mandated in article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

There Are Several Issues Regarding The Implementation Of The Self Determination And Political Rights Based On Article: 1, 22 And 25

With respect to the rights of Nations, tribes and people to speak, write and develop their own language which has been guaranteed by the constitution.

As a multilingual state (Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somalia, and Arabic) and as a federal constitution, the awareness of state to recognize and accommodate the language rights of multilingual society of Ethiopia is a very important thing.

Recognition of the language and equality has been set by the constitution based on Article 5 (1) of the Constitution of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, but in practice application language at the federal government level, based on Article 5 (2) mentioned that “Amharic shall be the working language of the Federal Government”, and practical applications of language use in local government, based on Article 5 (3) “Member of the Federation may by law determine their respective working languages”. Under this background, the seting up of Amharic as the working language, which indirectly gives the latter a priority over other languages becomes problem.

When the provisions of Article 5 is put together with the provisions of Article 39 (2) the problems arise when the State that has no majority ethnic groups such as Gambella, Benidahngul-Gumuz and SNNPRS choose Amsharik as their working language, though some of these countries still use their own language as a working language teaching and learning facilities in schools. Even some minorities group/societies were forced to educated their children in language that is neither their mother tongue nor the default alternative (Amharic).

We argue that the Constitution has not effectively enough to accommodate the setting of the language, cannot accommodate all interests, particularly for state do not have majority ethnic group but have their own local language, this can lead social inequalities and also slowly the purpose of preserving the culture and languages will disappear gradually.


  • The Government should amend some articles related to multi-language issues in Ethiopia.
  • Governments should give special attention to minorities, particularly concerning language education. As stipulated in article 5 (2) of the constitution, Amharic shall be the working language of the Federal Government. So that was a requirement for individuals who wish to compete in the political arena must understand the working language (Amharic).
  • Provide adequate funding and human resources and facilities to assist the teaching of minority languages in public schools at the regional level.
  • Maintaining the principle of free choice in language education, and opportunities to learn and be taught in the mother tongue and national official language of Ethiopia (Amharic) at the regional level.
    1. Freedom Of Association

Freedom of association as mandated in the Constitution of FDRE, it was all only a mere illusion when the freedom of association/organization confined.

Based on Article 31 the Constitution of Ethiopia states that every person has the right to freedom of association provided that the organization does not violate the law.

An issue when the government prepares draft law “The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Charities and Societies Proclamation” to regulate all organizations of civil society organization/CSOs (Domestic and International) who perform activities in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Some NGOs protest against measures taken by the Ethiopian government when adopting laws that severely limit the activities of NGOs in Ethiopia (as if the law is a tool to enhance transparency and accountability organizations of civil society, but in fact will create a complex network and the restriction of arbitrary. This restriction will make the nearly impossible-organizations of civil society to operate if they are not getting permission from the government and very unlikely these organizations work effectively. It is also very contradictory to the rights that have been guaranteed in the constitution.

Various areas of the organizations funded by foreign parties are prohibited to conduct activities, these activities have been extended include issues related to gender issues, children’s rights, and rights of persons with disabilities. This can also limit the freedom of organizations to observe the activities of government, giving notes on the implementation of human rights in Ethiopia.

This law can also provide a wider impact, and also contrary to the Constitutive Act of the African Union to build partnerships between governments and all segments of civil society. These restrictions will impede the process of cooperation between governments and civil society organizations.

The constraints that arise with the draft law of Ethiopia Charities and Societies Proclamation for the freedom of association.

From the data we can collect, such large contributions given by NGOs can be observed in the table below:

Indeed ironic that steps taken by the government to limit the organizations that provide many positive contributions.

The following are some points that deserve the attention

    1. Arbitrary And Limitations Of Domestic Organizations And Discriminatory Treatment Of Foreign Organizations

Based on Section 1 Article 2 sub 2, 3, 4 Draft Law The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Charities and Societies Proclamation.

  • Can be observed from the section of the provision recognizes three different types of charities and societies: Ethiopian, Ethiopian residents and foreign.
  • The bases for classification are: the places of registration, nationality of members, sources of income and residences of members.
  • Comparisons between domestic organizations with foreign organizations, only on the basis of their income sources and limit the incentive to Ethiopia. Limit 10% of foreign funds may restrict or closing operations of many of Ethiopia and Community Charities, as their ability to mobilize resources that might be affected.

It is unconstitutional and against the of public interest to restrict a substantial section of civil society to a limited set of activities (freedom of association)

Recommendation: Remove criteria regarding ten percent (10%) threshold on foreign funding.

    1. Participation In Public Affairs And Election.

The differences of Ethnicity and multi-cultural and even multi-language have an orientation to cause conflict, especially with regard to the rights of the minorities to participate in the Public Affairs and Election. (When pressed by the state in terms of democratizing the state and society)

The most serious weakness is the failure occurred from the state / government to better meet the demands of ethnic nationalism and the competing demands of individual citizens and citizen’s rights which are owned primarily political (or what settings aspired sometimes inconsistent with expectations or there are obstacles in implementation.

As stated in Article 25 of the ICCPR explicitly states that every person has the right and opportunity, without distinction to conduct public affairs, or through representatives chosen, to choose and be chosen in general elections, to gain access to public service in his country. The rights mentioned in Article 25 of the ICCPR also has the guarantee that the Ethiopian state constitution based on Article 38

Controversy often appears in Ethiopia as a result of competing interests, which leads to competing concepts of democracy. The central issues in the controversy are: the rights that should be given an advantage in the political restructuring of the state, namely the rights of individual or collective rights. Center question here is: what is appropriate for the type of democratic multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious, i.e., whether ethnic and / or cultural pluralism can serve as the basis of political pluralism. (There is currently no clear rules or even be given the freedom that is too large). If the identity politics more emphasis in the democratic system in Ethiopia, conflict will not be avoided, and minority groups or migrant community are potential victims.


  • Ensure representation of smaller and / or migrant communities from other countries in the regional councils, including through constitutional review.
  • Ensuring representation of minority communities.

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