Horn of africa Bulletin

Perspectives on Integrating Traditional Justice Mechanisms in Ethiopia’s National Dialogue Process: A Survey of Key Policy Actors

The article delves into Ethiopia's National Dialogue process, initiated by the Ethiopian Parliament in December 2021 to address critical national issues and foster peace through inclusive consultations. The Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission (ENDC) is considering integrating traditional justice mechanisms, which are highly valued for their accessibility and cultural relevance, especially in regions where formal institutions are less effective. These mechanisms involve local elders and community councils focusing on restorative justice. However, challenges remain, such as aligning these traditional methods with legal frameworks and ensuring they meet human rights and gender equity standards. The article also addresses criticisms aimed at the ENDC, particularly concerning the exclusion of key stakeholders and the lack of transparency in selecting commissioners. Despite these hurdles, the ENDC has progressed in selecting participants for the dialogue. National policy actors recognize both the benefits and limitations of incorporating traditional justice mechanisms, noting concerns about the neutrality of traditional leaders and the need for institutional reform. This article recommends adopting a decentralised approach, engaging women and youth, vetting and strengthening traditional leaders, and developing a legal framework to align with national laws and human rights standards. These measures are intended to enhance the national dialogue process and promote sustainable peace in Ethiopia.

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Eden Matiyas