Rocks of Hope: Interrogating PM DR Abiy Ahmed’s Reform within the Boomerang Model of Human Rights



As I write this term paper, stream of demonstrations across Ethiopia has continued owing to human rights violations. Human rights and social movements have constitutive relationship. An Ethiopian scholar of human rights focuses on policy outcomes and legal decisions. Scholarship that examines this link in Ethiopia is relatively slow to develop.

Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPDRF) has been attempting to silence social movements. There have been brutal crackdowns. The crackdown on people’s social movement resulted in further resistance. At this stage, the regime is giving locus for dissident voices and we are experiencing glimmer of hope for human rights protection is taking its resonance.  Hitherto, rapid pace of reform is taking place since the appointment of Prime Minister (PM) DR Abiy Ahmed as of April 2, 2018.

Rocks of hope are an engagement citizens have been taking for protection of human rights in Ethiopia. It represents a struggle for justice in the face of injustice.  It represents those who fought for equality in the face of inequality. It connotes optimism followed the reform. These are values of legitimate struggle. Values of legitimate struggle are terse in the Constitution of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Constitution herein after. Under the 7th paragraph of the Preamble of the Constitution, it is provided that the common struggle of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples has brought the peace and the prospects of democratic order of the country.

In human rights language, Boomerang Model is the strategy of identifying human rights violations someplace and then generating attention in order to bring pressure to bear on the perpetrators back in the country of concern. Repressive regimes may be subject to internal and external pressures to conform with human rights norms. In response, they may consider concessions to secure trade advantages, or because they have been ashamed for not conforming to the standards of the international community.

The theme of this term paper is interrogating the reform within the Boomerang Model. It deals with the resistance paid to bring the reform and the responses and steps taken. The pace of reform will be assessed in terms of the ramifications it has on human rights protection. It ends with conclusion and recommendation.

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Commentary on the draft proclamation of special interest of state of Oromia in Addis Ababa city


The advent of a modern constitution in Ethiopia goes back to the 1931 Constitution which was designed to fortify an absolute monarchy. It was revised in 1955. Unlike its predecessor, the Revised Constitution had a section on the “Rights and Duties of the People” devoted to several human rights and democratic freedoms. Another constitution came in 1987 under the military dictatorship. On paper, the 1987 Constitution guaranteed civil and political rights and personal freedoms though, in practice, none of these were protected in any manner. All three constitutions made sure that the issues of group rights, such as the interest of Oromo People in Addis Ababa City, were not raised.

In 1991, the Transitional Charter was issued to establish the Transitional Government (1991-1995). Enacted during the Transitional Period, a proclamation to provide for the Establishment of National/Regional Self-governments, proclamation number 7/1992, Article 3(4) reads:

The special national interests and political right of the Oromo over Region 13 [Harari] and Region 14 [Addis Ababa] are reserved.  These regions shall be accountable to the Central Transitional Government and the relations of these Self-governments with the Central Government shall be prescribed in detail by a special law.

Pursuant to the article of this proclamation, the People of Oromo Nation have interest and political right over Addis Ababa and Harari. In legal parlance, the addition of political right was a redundancy unless it was used to avoid doubt for the sake of clarity. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th edition, 1990, interest is a synergy of rights, powers, immunities and privileges. Special interest contains political power and ownership right. During the Transition, a special law to determine the accountability of the regions to the Central Government was not enacted.

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Constitutional Special Interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa City Administration


The phraseology of special interest is technical employment. The geographical location, historical, socio economic underpinnings and legal grounds attract the attention of ONRS and Oromo people. These grounds inspire them to know about the City and special interest. The Constitutional Special Interest is not only ethical, political or legal issue but it also involves the identity of the People, indigenous people are the foundation. It is, therefore, a particularistic interest recognized and guaranteed, almost the same, when the Constitution comes into scene. It is particularistic because it is of a single state interest that it shares with no other constituent regional states.

Today, we do not watch concrete job being done to implement the interest and things are left in limbo.  After the enactment of the Constitution two Charters, Proclamation, (Proc.) No. 87/1997 and 361/2003, have been issued for the City. However, both of them have failed to state the relationship between ONRS and AACA along with the Constitution. Though both Charters empower the City government and Federal government to reach an agreement with the Region, this has not yet been materialized. For the people, therefore, the past decades have meant a major loss of control over special interest. They are the gate keepers, of success or failure to husband their interest.


Even after decades of  talk  about  the political safeguards  of  federalism, there is  a lot we  do not know  about the  formal  even  informal  ways  in  which states’ interests  influence parliamentarian decision  making. What seems clear, however, is that there are avenues of influence, often very strong ones.

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