The law and politics of internal secession: The Ethiopian experience in comparative perspective

The 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia established what is commonly referred to as ethnic federalism, which is primarily founded based on the recognition of the right of every ethnic community to both to internal and external self-determination. The right of an ethnic community to secede from the federation and establish itself as an independent country represents a recognition of the right to external self-determination. The right to internal self-determination, on the other hand, has found expression with the establishment of ethnic based state and local governments. The Constitution authorizes ethnic communities that do not have their own states to secede from the state in which they are found and establish their own state. It is based on this constitutional right that different ethnic communities are agitating for internal secession. Although secession has been the subject of much scholarly work, the focus has largely been on the external dimension of secession. Little attention has been paid to the less radical solution of internal secession, the right of a community or territory to secede from a subnational unit and establish itself as a state. Using the Ethiopian experience as a case study, this paper discusses the law governing the process of internal secession in a comparative perspective. It also touches on the politics of internal secession.

The role of constitution making in ending conflict: the case of South Sudan

Constitutional issues lie at the heart of many intra-state conflicts and a constitution-making process is frequently included in ‘roadmaps’ designed to resolve the conflict and secure peace. Many roadmaps in peace processes fail for many reasons, and the failure of a constitution-making process is seldom the main reason. Nonetheless, these processes raise questions about the way in which constitution making is included in peace processes (the design of the process) and how constitution making can contribute (and undermine) peace. This paper examines the many attempts of the Republic of South Sudan to review its constitution since 2011, including the new process, sketched in the Revitalized – Agreement to resolve the Conflict in South Sudan of 2019, which has not managed to get off the starting blocks. Drawing on this and other post-conflict constitution-making processes, it explores lessons that South Sudan (and other processes) might provide for parties and mediators when integrating constitution making in peace processes.