The Ethiopian government and many international actors are seeking to fortify the rule of law throughout the country, hoping it will encourage human rights-based economic development. The newest stage of decentralisation has been in higher education, and in legal education in particular.

IRLI Involvement

In early 2008, the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice requested assistance in the form of legal training on the concept of the rule of law and its role in ensuring an open and functioning democratic society. Following extensive consultation with the Ministry, the Law Society of Ireland and the Bar of Ireland devised a proposal for a five-day seminar to provide training to over 80 judges, prosecutors and staff of the Ministry itself.

The idea of directing the seminar at these participants was to promote an awareness and understanding of the fundamentals of the administration of justice, and respect for human rights, amongst those with the most direct power to influence the Ethiopian legal system.

The initial visit focused on examining the constitution of Ethiopia, judicial independence, access to justice, gender issues and the basics of criminal law.

Later visits in 2009 and 2010 concentrated on two particular areas where ongoing capacity building is required: the use of alternative dispute resolution in construction and intellectual property disputes and the importance of international human rights law in achieving the rule of law.

Each year, it has become more apparent that, while there is an enthusiasm for the improved administration of justice, the participants are often hampered by inadequate knowledge of their own laws, access to legal or practical resources, or by the failure of the Ethiopian government to ensure the separation of powers amongst the different arms of government and the independent functioning of the judiciary.

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Participants in the legal training courses organised by the Rule of Law project in Ethiopia, 2008


This project was funded by Irish Aid.