National Research Conference on Reforming Ethiopian Property Law

Addis Ababa University’s School of Law organized a national research conference on reforming Ethiopian property law in collaboration with USAID’s Feteh (Justice) Activity at Inter Luxury Hotel on the 7th of September 2021.

Solomon Nigussie (PhD), Dean for College of Governance Studies of AAU, in his welcoming remarks stated that the conference topic, ‘property law’ has been under scrutiny for the last two decades under its constitutional provision because of its importance and yet due to the confusions and ambiguity that it also contains.

According to Dr. Solomon, the confusions and the ambiguity of property law enshrined under Article 14 of the FDRE constitution arise from the right that gives the land as common property both to the state and the people of the country.

Recent court data that shows 65-70 percent of court cases in Ethiopia is directly or indirectly related to land and the decision that is coming out of the courts is in relation to land, Dr. Solomon stated. Therefore, discussing the land as a property right is very important, he added.

Dr. Solomon further stated that the issue related to land is very important because it is also related to the protection of other rights; the right to food, the right to be free from hunger, the right of survival, the right to shelter, etc.

Mr. Mandefrot Belay, USAID Feteh (Justice) Activity Deputy Chief of Party, said that Feteh focuses at encouraging and advocating legal reforms in Ethiopia be supported by evidences based upon research findings. Research based legal reforms are believed to be tangible and effective which are also be important resources for policy makers, he added.

Different scholars presented different research results conducted on legal protection and judicial enforcement of farmers’ land, governance of investment land, the need for integrated land use planning, impact of land certification, strength and weaknesses of rural land administration and others.

As indicated in the “…constitutional framework of property right in Ethiopia,” by Muradu Abdo (PhD), the FDRE constitution has combined shortfalls of suffering from a combination of design, compliance and implementation defects which are also consequential.

According to Dr. Muradu, constitutional practices regarding the right to property tend to incline more to politics and rhetoric of raising economic productivity at the expense of other values behind land, including the survival rights of the urban and rural poor citizens.

Discussions following the presentation of research results revealed that the need to reform the property law rises from constitutional and legislative design defects, causes of non-compliance with principle and rules, court rulings and serious implementation weaknesses as well as unclear land administration and related issues.

It was finally recommended that call for adherence to existing principles and rules, legislative revisions, policy and strategy formulation, institutional capacity building and restructuring are mandatory for the reform of property law in Ethiopia.

By: Abraham Girmay

Phot: Andualem Aseffa