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THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS AND THE RIGHT TO CULTURAL SELF DETERMINATION OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES IN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0703-16]
In addition to explicitly recognizing customary (and religious) personal and family laws and courts, the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia specifically grants every ethno-linguistic community “the right to express, to develop and to promote its culture” (article 39(2). These statements of rights are undergirded by the constitutional principle which states that “[a]ll sovereign power resides in the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia” (article 8).In the same vein, the Constitution recognizes a plethora of individual rights and freedoms ranging from the rights to life, the security of person and liberty; prohibition against inhuman treatment; the right to equality; rights of women; to rights of children.It is widely known that some cultural norms of the various ethno-linguistic communities are at variance with standards of human rights protection maintained in international human rights law and the Bill of Rights of the Ethiopian Constitution. In view of the Constitution’s clear commitment to fully respect both individual and people’s fundamental rights and freedoms, a question, thus, arises as to how conflicts between these binary set of rights could be settled in real life. By drawing on theoretical and jurisprudence resources of relevant treaty bodies and by employing constitution-theoretic approaches of construction of constitutional rights, this paper will make suggestions on how the tension between the two sets of rights could be harmoniously settled.