Role of NGOs in promoting Human Rights in Ethiopia: A Case Study on Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO)

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2010
34 Pages, Grade: BA degree


Table of Contents



Table of Contents


1.1 Background
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objective of the Study
1.4 Hypothesis
1.5 Methodology
1.6 Significance of the Study
1.7 Scope
1.8 .Limitation
1.9 Organization of the Study
1.10 Review of Literature


2.1 Definitions of Human Rights And Human Rights NGOs
2.2 Historical Development of Human Rights NGOs
2.2.1 Definition of NGOs
2.2.2 Human rights NGOs and It’s Developments
2.3 Human Right NGOs in Ethiopia
2.4 The predicaments of EHRCO
2.5 Role of NGOs and Human rights NGOs In Promoting and Protecting HRs
2.5.1 Education
2.5.2 Enforcement
2.5.3 Documentation
2.6 Demerits of NGOs


3.1 Overview of Human right Condition in Ethiopia With Reference to the constitution since EHRCO's Foundation
3.2 EHRCO Programs, Objective And Contents
Organizational Background
Objective & Contents Of the Organization
3.3 Provision of Periodic Reports On HRs Violation in Ethiopia


4.1 Challenges from the Government
4.2 Limitation from Organizational Foundation
4.2.1 Lack of managerial Undemocratic Internal Governance
4.3 Political Space (Low Level of Awareness Of the Ethiopian Society




1.1 Background

Although a relative better political environment had been created with the coming of EPRDF, many NGOs have not yet shifted their policy objective towards advocacy. Majority of local NGOs are still either relief or development oriented regarding their policy objectives. They are fear of taking up policy advocacy, rule of law, human rights, criticism and opposition to state polices and practices. This is partly explained by the fact that many NGOs restored to opportunism or subservience to the government. That is, they make political calculations deemed necessary to ensure survival. In other words, most NGOs pretend not to engage in sensitive issues that may antagonize with the government. In simple terms, they rather conform to center of power and prefer to maintain personal and institutional interests (Kassahun, 2002:124).

However, after 1991 a few local NGOs emerged and centered their objective on promoting the respect for the rule of law, protecting and monitoring human rights and enhancing civil awareness through various strategies. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council(EHRCO), Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association(EWLA), Society for the Advancement of Human Rights Education(EAHRE) are some the examples ,which entertain such objectives.

Nevertheless, the relation of these human right NGOs and the government (EPRDF) is characterized by great friction and antagonism. Government sometimes intervened in their activities to extent of closing their offices (Sisay, 2001:29).

In light of this background, the study is going to investigate this problem of advocacy NGOs by taking EHRCO as case and will also try to asses other impediments of its effective operation.

1.2 Statement of the problem

With the coming of the present ruling government (EPRDF) by replacing the military regime in 1991, many human rights NGOs began to emerge. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO)is one of such institutions. Since the time of its establishment, the Ethiopian human rights council (EHRCO) has been striving to the best of its ability for the establishment of a democratic system, the respect of human rights, the prevalence of the rule of law and the exercise of due process in Ethiopia.

Nevertheless, the relation of the government (EPRDF) and EHRCO is characterized by antagonism and hostility. During the process of its establishment, EHRCO had a problem of getting legal personality for some years. Even after gaining legal personality, contradiction and antagonism between government and EHRCO are common (Mesfin, 1997:34). EHRCO persistently complains about actions up on human dignity and rights as well as threats against the organization itself. In return government (EPRDF) considers EHRCO as a political wing of certain ethnic and groups of social forces that try to change the statuesque.

Hence this paper has an intention to investigate this problem of advocacy NGOs by taking EHRCO as a case and will also try to assess other impediments of its effective operation.

1.3 Objective of the Study

1.3.1 General Objectives

The very objective of this study is to make an independent analysis on the existence of hostile relation between government (EPRDF) and human right NGOs and to suggest possible solutions for the above problems.

1.3.2 Specific Objectives

- To analyze & elaborate the existence of hostile relation between government (EPRDF) and EHRCO.
- To analyze the challenges of NGOs in promoting human rights in Ethiopia.
- Explicitly investigating the contribution and the role of EHRCO as well as its defects and limitations on its side.

-1.4 Hypothesis

- Effective performance of local human rights NGOs are partly constrained by their organizational limitations.
- The government of Ethiopia is not comfortable with the activity of human right NGOs.

1.5 Methodology

The study is going to be conducted using both descriptive and analytical approach's to address the intended objectives and successfully complete the research work. The literature review will be based on the subject matter of the study and extracted from available secondary sources including; books, articles, website or internet and the like.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Conducting research on the issue of local human rights NGOs in Ethiopia depending up on independent investigation is quite relevant. This is highly under worked area of research. Some other significance of this study includes.

1. To give highlight about this new issue so that an interested group can get slighted idea from this findings.
2. The successful completion of the research will try to prove the need of further research on this topic and it will also pave way for study.
3. Further more, the methods approach followed in this study and its findings could be helpful for similar other situations.

1.7 Scope of the Study

Studying comprehensively the role of NGOs in promoting human right in Ethiopia is very difficult because of its vagueness. In order to complete the study successfully, the scope had to be limited. So my emphasis is by taking EHRCO as 10 | Page case, starting from the time of its establishment in 1991, till now by taking the whole period of EPRDF, as a background.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

Absence of sufficient reference is one factor for the limitation of the scope of this paper. In addition to this, shortage of finance, lack of access to Internet is worth mentioning factor for the limitation of the paper. Also in search of these materials I should go to different organizations whereby the cost of transportation is high to afford.

1.9 Organization of the Study

The paper begins with introduction, which comprises the background, problem, objective, and significance of the study. Chapter two, which deals with the role of NGOs and human right NGOs in promoting and protecting human rights, in general have discussed. Chapter three, which covers contribution and role of EHRCO, started by over viewing situations of human rights in Ethiopia since EHRCO's inception. Chapter four, which is the main body of the study, deals with the challenges of EHRCO and then followed by conclusion.

1.10 Review of Literature

However there are controversies over the universality of human rights, most authors defined it almost in similar and identical positions. Cranston, for example, defined the idea of human rights as:

[A] Human right by definition is a universal right Something which all [men], every where and all times ought to have, something of which no one may be deprived of without a grave affront to justice, something which is owing to every human being simply because [he] is human (1962:36)

Donnelly and Howard also share the universality of the notion in their contemporary and widely accepted definition. Human right to treatment as free, equal, materially and physically secure persons. This is what human dignity means and require in our era. And the individual human rights in Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the covenants are the means by which individual’s today carryout the struggle to achieve their dignity (1987:26)

In connection with human rights, what should also be seen is human right NGOs. Initially there are few NGOs, notably the Ethiopian Red cross and Save the Children Fund. During 1973/74 and 1984/85 because the catastrophic famine, many relief oriented NGOs were operating in the country, of which most of them were foreign entities (Clerk, 2003:31). Beginning from early 1990s as a result of the institution of favorable environment, and with increase financial and material support from foreign voluntary organizations, the number of local NGOs multiplied in Ethiopia (Sisay, 2002:6).

As a result, a relatively better political and legal environment after the fall of the 'Derg', local NGOs are showing impressive sign of maturity and new 12 | Page professionalism. This progress is revealed in expression of attitude about the role of NGOs at all level of government. Thus, human right NGOs with the objective to preserve basic rights of constituents and society at large educate citizens and advocate claims and promote effective participation in the social, economic and political life of the country , monitoring abuse of human rights and lobby against such abuse are just beginning to emerge. Few examples can be sighted as EHRCO, EWLA,SAHRE and the like(Ibid)


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Role of NGOs in promoting Human Rights in Ethiopia: A Case Study on Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO)
BA degree
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role, ngos, human, rights, ethiopia, case, study, ethiopian, council, ehrco
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Israel Endale (Author), 2010, Role of NGOs in promoting Human Rights in Ethiopia: A Case Study on Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO), Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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