Minority Rights. An Assessment of the Rights to Electoral Participation and Representation of Non-Territorial Minorities in Ethiopia


Scientific Essay, 2013
19 Pages

Excerpt

Contents

1. Introduction
1.1. Background of the study
1.2.Statement of the problem
1.3.Objective

2. Conceptualizing Non-Territorial Minorities
2.1. Non-Territorial Minorities Under International Human Right Regime
2.2. Non-territorial minorities in Ethiopian
2.3. Non-Territorial Minority rights in Oromia regional state
2.3.1. The right to elect and be elected of non-territorial minorities in the region
2.3.2. Representational rights of non-territorial minorities in the region
2.4. Mechanism of protecting the rights of Non-Territorial Minority in Oromia regional states
2.4.1. Institutional protection mechanism of Non-Territorial minority rights
2.4.2. Constitutional protection mechanism of Non-Territorial minority rights

3. Conclusion and recommendation

4. Reference

Abstract

Ethiopia design ethnic based federal state structure to respond to the challenges of minorities by developing a counter-majority institutional system. However, the ethnic based federal state structure also creates local tyranny which will further complicated the challenges of minority rights at the local constituent unites of the federation. More importantly, the ethno-territorial organization of the federating unites of Ethiopia left a number of non-native peoples of the country out of the constitutional recognition under the regional constitutions. As one of the regional state of Ethiopia, Oromia Regional State, the largest in size and number of residence, is the major regional state which large number of non-territorial minorities are found. The allocation of home land for each major ethnic groups in the country complicated the right of these dispersed non-territorial minorities in the regional state. Minding this, this paper attempts to assess the rights to electoral participation and representation of non-territorial minorities in Oromia Regional State/Ethiopia. In doing so, secondary documents like, journal articles, books, Magazines and reports were used. Data’s were also collected from different Medias and newspapers to get the full picture of the study issue. Accordingly, the paper generalizes that the Oromo use the regional autonomy for complete identification of their ethnic group and the non- territorial minorities clearly lack legal and institutional protection in the regional states.

Key terms

Federalism, Ethnic Group, Representation Right, Electoral Rights, Minority, Non-Territorial Minority

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Background of the Study

After a long period of unitary state experience, Ethiopia officially endorse federal state structure within the 1995 constitution which begins with the preamble “we the nation, nationality and peoples of Ethiopia” as the constituent unites of the federation.1 This expression of the constitution as ‘nation, nationality and peoples’ of the country clearly indicates that the constituent unites of the federal governments are the ‘ethnic groups’ which all are minority in the federal level of government.2 The main intension of Ethiopian Federalism is to maintain and balance the ethnic equality of nation, nationality and peoples of the country.

However, Even though, the institutional design of Federalism is the best option to respond to the challenges of minorities by developing a counter-majority institutional system, it also has a legacy of creating local tyranny which will further complicated the challenges of minority rights at the local constituent unites of the federation.3 “The federation has experienced tension and even serious communal violence and over attempts by indigenes to exclude large, but ostensibly non-indigenous, resident communities from economic and political opportunities controlled by state and local governments”.4 As Yonatan Tesfaye and Van der Beken clearly stipulates, most regional state constitutions would reveal that the provisions of the multi-faceted group right of self-determination are either explicitly or implicitly limited to indigenous internal minorities.5 For example, the preamble of the Oromia Regional State Constitution, which starts by the phrase of “we Oromo nation…..” is argued that it is the first clear move of the regional constitution to exclude the legal existence and legal protection of the rights of non-territorial minorities of the region.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

In most of the time, federal state has prized for the accommodation and protection of minorities thereby respecting their identity, culture, religion and empowers the right to self-administration.6 Hence, as federal state, the FDRE government of Ethiopia tries to create an ethnic federalism in which the territorial boundary of the constituent unites are primarily institutionalized on ethnic lines to create an ethnically homogenous regional states.7 However, there is no single federal state which has successfully demarcate the territorial matrix of federation in to an ethnically homogenous sub-national unites to lighten the crisis of ethnic minorities in the ethnically dominant regional state.8

More importantly, the ethno-territorial organization of the federating unites of Ethiopia left a number of non-native peoples of the country out of the constitutional recognition under the regional constitutions.9 Most regional constitutions of the country have not any space for the right of those ‘exogenous’ peoples of the region for basic political rights like the right to have representative at any level of governments and the right to contest in election.10 This is Due to lack of constitutional recognition and language pre-requisite, which sated by the National Election Board of Ethiopia, Article 45 (1) sub b “any person shall be eligible for candidature, where he is versed in the working language of the regional state or the area of his intended candidature”. Accordingly, the non-native minorities excluded from major political rights to have representation and contest in election.

Therefore, under this study, the political rights of non-territorial minorities i.e. the electorate rights, the right to be represented, and taking part in decision making process that affects them and their life of non-territorial minorities in Oromia Regional State will be discussed. In doing so, the protection mechanism and measures of the regional state as well as federal government will be further assessed.

1.3. Objective

The main objective of this study is to assess the political rights of non-territorial minorities to participate in election for holding public office, decision making and have a representative in the local, regional and federal government. Under this, the paper had also the following specific objective:-

- Assess the electorate right of non-territorial minorities in Oromia Regional State.
- Scrutinize the level of participation of non-territorial minorities in decision making process of the regional state.
- Discuss the representational rights and levels of non-territorial minorities in the regional state.
- Examine the institutional and legal instruments and mechanism for the protection of the political rights of non-territorial minorities in Oromia Regional State.

For the purpose of this paper, different secondary data i.e. reports, journal articles, legal instruments etc. will be used, analyzed and crosschecked to draw a necessary conclusion and providing a constructive recommendation about issues.

2. Conceptualizing Non-Territorial Minorities

2.1. Non-Territorial Minorities Under International Human Right Regime

Protecting the rights of minorities in political, social, economic and cultural affairs is a necessary condition in which most human right activists, international and national human right institutions are agreed for both domestic and international peace.11 However, defining minority is the very complex activity in the international human right regimes.12 Even the united nation (UN) general assembly in resolution 217 (III) has declared that, ‘it is difficult to adopt a uniform solution to this complex and delicate question, which have especial aspect in each state in which it arises’.13

Nevertheless, there are lots of attempts and discussion was held throughout the world, there was no an international consensus on the definitions and criteria to identify who minorities are and who can identify them, yet, until resent time most the attempts to define who minorities, scope of their rights, and who decide on one’s belongingness to minority does not include the groups of peoples who are not national of certain states.14 For example, from those attempts to define minority for the application of ICCPR in international level, the definition of Capotorti and Deschences are the better attempts than the rest. However, their definitions were not free form criticism. Their definition has been criticized because it does not see the possibilities that the non -national and numerically superior groups can be minorities.15 Nevertheless there are some groups who are in a dominant position which in fact loses the essence of the concept of minority, the requirement of ‘being nationals of the state’ or ‘citizens of the country’ clearly shows us that the non-nationals have not any tendency to be considered as minority in definition of the above two scholars.

However, after the human right committee puts its own interpretive declaration for the application of Article 27 of ICCPR, as the requirement of nationality is not further used, the concept of minority further includes the non-territorial group’s peoples who live outside their ‘homeland’. Contrary to the definition of Capotorti and Deschences, the Human right committee adopted a general comment for the application of Article 27 of the ICCPR on matters of minority rights protection.16 Accordingly, the committee states that: “Persons protected are those ‘who in international law, (2000): Page.19 belongs to group and who share in common a culture, a religious and/or a language, who need not to be nationals or citizens … [or] permanent residence”.17

Due to the fact that the definition of minorities and the identification of minorities are a very challenging field of study in the international level, The UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities put states as the central institution for the protection and promotion of minorities.18

But, the absence of international agreed definitions of minorities, criteria for identifying minority groups and the scope of their rights have an adverse effect in protecting the rights of minorities and the process of identification of minorities in the national level.19 Therefore, it is fair enough to say that the national authorities have the possibility to actualize the extent and meaning of minorities at least in the national level.20

2.2. Non-Territorial Minorities in Ethiopian

Here in Ethiopia, with the federal arrangement, it could practically unachievable in a multi- ethnic country to have ‘home land’ for all diverse groups of peoples who live in certain state in time of organizing a territorial federating unites.21 Therefore, there are many kinds of minority (non-territorial or territorial) who are in needs of protection and special consideration in the country.22 In fact, the concept of minority and their legal protection is not as such clear. However, no matter how there is confusion, the constitutions does not silently pass-over issues of minority rights.

[...]


1 HaileyesusTaye. “Issues of Minority Rights in the Ethiopian Federation”. ECMI Working Paper #59 (April 2012): P.4

2 Yonatan Tesfaye. “Federalism, the sub-national constitutional framework and local government: Accommodating minorities within minorities.” Perspectives on Federalism, Vol. 4, issue 2 ( 2012): P. 2

3 AlemHabtu. “Ethnic federalism in Ethiopia: Back ground, Present Conditions and future prospects”. International Conference on African Development Archives (center for African Development policy research) Western Michigan University No. 57 (2003): P. 7

4 Yonatan Tesfaye and Van Der Beken.“Ethnic Federalism and Internal Minorities: The Legal Protection of Internal Minorities in Ethiopia”.African Journal of International and Comparative Law 21.1 (Edinburgh University Press) (2013):p. 33

5 Ibid P: 11

6 Mengie Legesse. “Federalism for unity and Minorities’ protection: (Comparative Study on the constitutional principles and their practical implications: US, India and Ethiopia).” Central European University (Department of Legal studies), Budapest, Hungary ( November 2010): P.42

7 Christophe Van der Beken. “Federalism and the Accommodation of Ethnic Diversity: The Case of Ethiopia”. PHD thesis, (2006): p. 110

8 Yonatan Tesfaye. “Federalism, the sub-national constitutional framework and local government: Accommodating minorities within minorities.” Perspectives on Federalism, Vol. 4, issue 2 ( 2012): P. 2

9 HaileyesusTaye. “Issues of Minority Rights in the Ethiopian Federation”. ECMI Working Paper #59 (April 2012): P.4

10 Christophe Van der Beken. “Federalism and the Accommodation of Ethnic Diversity: The Case of Ethiopia”. PHD thesis, (2006): p. 110

11 Timo Makkonen Identity, difference and otherness: the concept of ‘people’,’ Indigenous people’ and ‘minority’ 3

12 AsbjørnEide. “Possible Way and Means of Facilitating the Peaceful and Constructive Solution of Problems Involving Minorities”.Document for the UN Working Group on Minorities (UN Doc. E/ CN. 4/ Sub-2 /Aes/wp. L.) vol.66: (1998):p.1311

13 Solomon P. 16

14 Timo Makkonen Identitiy, difference and otherness; the concept of ‘people’,’ Indigenous people’ and ‘minority’ in international law, (2000): Page.81

15 Solomon Emiru the Ethiopian human rights commission and its role in minority rights protection : a comparative study: (2010).page.18

16 Timo Makkonen Identitiy, difference and otherness; the concept of ‘people’,’ Indigenous people’ and ‘minority’ in international law, (2000): Page.93

17 Timo Makkonen Identitiy, difference and otherness; the concept of ‘people’,’ Indigenous people’ and ‘minority’ in international law, (2000): Page.93

18 Timo Makkonen Identitiy, difference and otherness; the concept of ‘people’,’ Indigenous people’ and ‘minority’ in international law, (2000): Page.96

19 Tokuma Daba, The legal and practical protection of the rights of minorities in self-administering nation of Ethiopia the case of Oromia (2010) P. 34

20 Kristin Hernard, Devising an Adequate System of Minority Protection: Individual Human Rights, Minority Rights and the Right to Self-Determination, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague/Boston/Lodon 2002,p.1

21 Yonatan Tesfaye Feseha: Federalism, the sub national constitutional framework and local government: Accommodating minorities within minorities “Perspective on federalism,” V. 4:p. 8

22 HaileyesusTaye. “Issues of Minority Rights in the Ethiopian Federation”. ECMI Working Paper #59 (April 2012): p. 2

Excerpt out of 19 pages

Details

Title
Minority Rights. An Assessment of the Rights to Electoral Participation and Representation of Non-Territorial Minorities in Ethiopia
Author
Year
2013
Pages
19
Catalog Number
V345501
ISBN (eBook)
9783668356634
ISBN (Book)
9783668356641
File size
427 KB
Language
English
Tags
minorties, Ethiopia, electoral participation, non-territorial minorities, electoral representation, ethnic group
Quote paper
Gizachew Wondie (Author), 2013, Minority Rights. An Assessment of the Rights to Electoral Participation and Representation of Non-Territorial Minorities in Ethiopia, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/345501

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