Assefa Fiseha

Full Name Assefa FisehaProfessor Assefa Fiseha
Education attended
  • L.L. B Addis Ababa University (1995) with DISTINCTION (Law Faculty)
  • L.L.M, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (2001)
  • Post Graduate Diploma- With DISTINCTION University of Fribourg, Switzerland (2002)
  • PhD, Federalism and Accommodation of Diversity in Ethiopia: Comparative Study Faculty of Law, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands (2005)
Academic Rank Professor
Working for AAU since December, 2013
Professional Experiances

Assefa Fiseha (PhD, Professor) is a leading expert in comparative federalism and devolution in Africa and has been engaged in teaching and research in higher education since 1996. He has published numerous articles, book chapters and a book related to these fields both in Ethiopia and reputable international journals. He has been engaged in constitution making processes and dialogues in several countries (Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Malawi). He has worked in joint research and training projects run by the Max Planck Institute (Heidelberg Germany), European Institute of Peace, the Forum of Federations (an international network of experts in Federalism based in Canada), Berghof Foundation (Germany), InterAfrica Group (Ethiopia) and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) among others. Previously, he has served as Dean of the Faculty of Law and designed MA/LL.M and PhD programs run by Addis Ababa University. He has served as a lead research team in different research projects both at Addis Ababa University and other partner research institutions based in South Africa, Canada and Switzerland.

Currently he is a PI in a three year project (2020-2023) entitled ‘addressing the crisis of governance in the Horn of Africa’. It is a research project conducted together with the University of Aberdeen (UK) and partner institutions in South Africa. It has both research and capacity building activities and an edited book with ten chapters has just been published in September 2022.


Fellowships and Awards
  • Principal investigator, Horn of Africa Project, an award won for three years that aims to investigate the crisis of governance in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan) in partnership with University of Aberdeen (Scotland-UK, University of Western Cape) (600,000 UK pounds)
  • Visiting Professor, Community Law Center, University of Western Cape, Cape Town August – September 7, 2013
  • Max Planck Research Fellow, Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany May – December 2004
  • Max Planck Research Fellow, Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany May – December 2011
  • Summer teaching Position, University of Fribourg, Institute of Federalism, Switzerland, 2016; 2022
  • Research award University of Ghent, Belgium, Human Rights section, 2009 (federalism and Development)
  • (RISE, -EURAC- 2018ff; UK Project)
  • College Level Best Teaching Award –Ethiopian Civil Service 2011
  • Three Year Research Award on thematic Issues (functioning and role of Local Governments in Ethiopia) at Addis Ababa University along with researchers from other departments (2017-2019); 1.5 Million project
  • Center of Excellence on Good Governance –African Research Universities Alliance –Addis Ababa University had to compete with Universities in Africa and the Center of Excellence on Good Governance is a Project I design with colleagues and has won the award (2018ff)
  • HELVETAS Swiss NGO in Ethiopia on Designing Strategic Council Capacity Building Strategy Amhara Regional State. December 2013.
  • On Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Ethiopia: A National Study November 2010- December 2012 – Center for Arbitration and Conciliation, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Report (Along with Dr. Asnake Kefale) submitted to Ethiopian Institution of Ombudsman January 2011, on the possibility of establishing branch  offices in regional states in a federal context
  • Justice Africa –Juba (South Sudan)- On Designing constitutions in new states; sharing the Ethiopian federal experiment to a net work of experts and NGOs- October 21-23, 2011, Juba, South Sudan
  • On Elections and Human Rights, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, October 2009, Debrezeit
  • January 2006- June 2010, Consultant to NUFFIC/University of Utrecht on Capacity Building to Law Faculties of Bahr Dar and Jimma
  • April -June 2006, Consultant to the UNDP in Assessing previous UNDP coordinated Donor programs on Capacity Building Projects to the legislative bodies at federal and regional state level in Ethiopia.
  • June 2006 (two days) Consultant to Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) on Consensus Building to Members of Parliament workshop held in Adama, Ethiopia
  • Separation of powers and Relations Between the legislature and the executive: Case study of Tigray Regional State, October 2009, Makelle
  • Introduction to Comparative Federalism, Forum for Federalism and Democracy 2008
  • March to June 2009, Consultant to Justice Training for Judges and Prosecutors, doing national survey of needs assessment for in service training for judges and prosecutors covering four regional states  (Oromia, The South, Benishangul Gumuz and Somali) commissioned by Justice Professionals Training Center.
  • Consultant to Ethiopian Ministry of Education – Drafting of Higher Education Law (2009-2010) (together with two other experts)
  • Designing MA Program on Federalism, Institute of Federalism, Addis Ababa University 2007 as a consultant to Forum of Federations.

Participated and presented in many national and international conferences

Campus    College of Business and Economics
Building name Centre for Federal Studies
Mobile: +251 0911365192
University email ID:
Alternative email ID:
Research interest Comparative Federalism Managing diversity

Comparative constitutional law

Intergovernmental Relations

Legal Pluralism

Publications on reputable journals
  1. Emerging Federal Structures in the Post-Cold War Era, Regional and Federal Studies (book Review) (2022)
  2. Chares Fombad, Assefa Fiseha, Nico Steytler eds. Contemporary Governance Issues in the Horn of Africa (Rutledge, 2023)
  3. Federalism, Devolution and Territorially-Based Cleavages in Africa: Does Institutional Design Matter? in Chares Fombad, Assefa Fiseha, Nico Steytler eds. Contemporary Governance Issues in the Horn of Africa (Rutledge, 2023)
  4. Assefa Fiseha and Conrad Bosire, ‘Kenya’s Ethno-Politics and Devolved Governance: The Complexities and Dilemmas of Diversity and Inclusion’ in Chares Fombad, Assefa Fiseha, Nico Steytler eds. Contemporary Governance Issues in the Horn of Africa (Rutledge, 2023)
  5. Assefa Fiseha and Zemelak Aytenew, ‘Constitutional Governance in the Horn of Africa’ in Chares Fombad, Assefa Fiseha, Nico Steytler eds. Contemporary Governance Issues in the Horn of Africa (Rutledge, 2023)
  6. Assefa Fiseha, ‘Federalism and Security: The Special Police in Ethiopia’ Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies 6:2 (2022) pp. 96-130

ISSN 2489-4265

  1. Transition to Democracy in Deeply Divided Ethiopia: Mission Impossible, Journal of Global South Studies 39:2 (2022): 257-301.
  2. Political Economy of Decentralization in Ethiopia Research Report submitted to Ethiopian Cities Association
  3. Local Level Decentralization in Ethiopia, Law and Development Review, v. 13 No. 1 pp.95-126 ISSN 1943-3867, ISSN (Print) 2194-6523, DOI:
  4. Why young Ethiopians in Oromia and Sidama fought for change,” The Conversation (blog coauthored)
  5. ‘The Interface between Federalism and Development in Ethiopia’ in Fantu Cherul, Christopher Cramer, Arkebe Oqubay eds The Oxford Handbook of the Ethiopian Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019) book chapter coauthored
  6. ‘Federalism, Development and the Changing Political Dynamics in Ethiopia, International Journal of Constitutional Law v. 17 No1 2019
  7. 2019. ‘Emergence and Transformation of Territorially based cleavages and Constitutional Responses in Ethiopia’ in Territory and Power in Constitutional Transitions George Anderson and Sujit Choudry eds Oxford: Oxford University Press 2019
  8. Federalism and Development: The Ethiopian Dilemma, International Journal of Minority and Group Rights 25:3 2018
  9. Intra unit Minorities in a context of Ethno National Federation in Ethiopia Utrecht Law Review v. 13 No 1 (2017) DOI: 10.18352/ulr.402
  10. ‘Rule of Law and the Judiciary in Ethiopia’ Wonber v.18 No.1, (2017) pp1-30. Local Journal
  11. 2017. ‘Constitutional Adjudication Through Second Chamber in Ethiopia,’ Ethnopolitics16 No 3 (2017) p.1-19 DOI: 10.1080/17449057.2016.1254407
  12. 2017. ‘Concurrent Powers in the Ethiopian Federal System’ co-authored with Zemelak Ayele in Nico Steytler ed. Concurrent Powers in Federal Systems: Meaning, Making, Managing (Boston: Brill, 2017) DOI: 10.1163/9789004337572_014
  1. 2016. ‘Relations between the Legislature and the Judiciary in Ethiopia’ in Separation of Powers in African Constitutionalism, Charles Fombad ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2016) DOI: 10.1093/law/9780198759799.003.0012
  2. 2015. ‘Legislative –Executive Relations in the Ethiopian Parliamentary System in Ethiopia: Towards Institutional and Legal Reform’ in Constitution Building in Africa Jaap De Visser, Nico Steytler, Derek Powell, (Baden-Baden, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft (2015).

DOI: 10.5771/9783845254609-239

  1. 2015. ‘Ethiopia: Development with or without Freedom?’ in Human Rights and Development Legal Perspectives From and For Ethiopia Eva Brems, Christophe Van der Becken, Solomon Abay eds., Leiden: Brill Nijhoff (2015) DOI: 10.1163/9789004280250_006
  2. 2014 ‘Improving Access to Justice through Harmonization of Formal and Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms’ in Pietro Toggia, Thomas Geraghty Kokebe Wolde eds. Access to Justice in Ethiopia: Towards an Inventory of Issues (Center for Human Rights, Master Print, Addis Ababa University, 2014)-
  3. Separation of powers and its implications for the Judiciary in Ethiopia in Jon Abbink and Tobias Hagmann eds. Reconfiguring Ethiopia: The Politics of Authoritarian Reform (New York: Taylor and Francis, 2013)
  4. 2012. ‘Ethiopia’s Experiment in Accommodating Diversity: 20 years balance Sheet, Regional and Federal Studies 22:4 (2012) pages 435-473. DOI: 10.1080/13597566.2012.709502
  5. 2012 Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms related to Commercial Disputes in Addis Ababa (Addis Ababa, 2012) in Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Ethiopia, Gebre Yentiso, Assefa Fiseha, Fekade Azeze eds. Eclipse Printing Press 2012 (a book chapter). Sole chapter in a joint publication
  6. 2011 Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Ethiopia co-edited with two others (Dr Assefa Fiseha, Dr Gebre Yentiso and Dr Fekade Azeze), (Addis Ababa: Eclipse Printing, 2011). Joint Publications
  7. 2011 Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Tigray in Assefa Fiseha, Dr Gebre Yentiso and Dr Fekade Azeze) eds., Customary Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Eclipse Printing, 2011).
  8. 2011. Separation of powers and its Implications for the Judiciary in Ethiopia, Journal of Eastern African Studies 5:4, (2011): 702-715. DOI: 10.1080/17531055.2011.649576
  9. 2009. “The System of Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) in Ethiopia: In Search of Institutions and Guidelines” Journal of Ethiopian Law 23:1 (2009) pp.96-131. Ethiopian Journal
  10. 2010. “Federalism as a means for Managing Diversity in Ethiopia” in John Kincaid ed. Unity in Diversity in Some Federal Countries (McGill – Queen’s University Press, 2010) Co –authored with Mohamed Habib.
  11. 2009. Managing Federal Capitals: Comparative Study, InterAfrica Group, conference proceeding , 2009.
  12. 2009. “Addis Ababa: A Federal Capital in Search of a Stable and Efficient Governance System,” in Enid Slack, Rupak Chattopadhyay eds  Finance and Governance of Capital Cities in Federal Systems (McGill – Queen’s University Press, 2009) solo chapter in an edited book
  13. 2008 “Fundamental Features of the Ethiopian Federal System and Its Implications for the Enforcement of Human Rights,” in Eva Brems, Christophe Van der Beken (Eds.) Federalism and the Protection of Human Rights in Ethiopia (Lit Verlag,    2008). Solo chapter in an edited book
  14. 2006. “Theory versus Practice in the Implementation of Ethiopia’s Federalism,” in David Turton ed., Ethnic Federalism: The Ethiopian Experience in Comparative Perspective (Oxford: James Currey, 2006).
  15. 2011. Some Reflections on the Role of the Judiciary in Ethiopia, Recht in Africa vol. 14:1, 2011 pp.1-30
  16. 2009. “The System of Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) in Ethiopia: In Search of Institutions and Guidelines” Journal of Ethiopian Law 23:1 (2009) pp.96-131.
  17. 2006. “Federalism in Ethiopia in Particular and in Multicultural Societies in General,” Recht in Africa (2006): 1-31.  Legal Journal published in Germany)
  18. 2005. “Federalism and the Adjudication of Constitutional Issues: The Ethiopian Experience” Netherlands International Law Review v. LII:1 (2005): 1-30. DOI: 10.1017/s0165070x0500001x
  19. 2005. “Federations and Second Chambers,” Indian Journal of Politics  v. XXXIX No. 3 (July-Sept 2005):87-128.
  20. 2003. “Federations and the Threat of Local Tyranny: The Case of Ethiopia” Horn of Africa,  V. XXI (2003): 63-87.


41. Federalism and the Accommodation of Diversity in Ethiopia: A Comparative Study (Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers, 2006).