n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Popular dispute resolution mechanisms in Ethiopia , opportunities, challenges and prospects

Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


This article finds that high-ranking officials within the judiciary and executive, heads of some organisations, and certain researchers have acclaimed the harmonisation and application of the Popular Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (PDRMs) in Ethiopia's justice system. To this effect, they have sponsored national and regional forums, conferences and workshops; established research institutions and centres as well as sponsored scholars who conduct research on this initiative. The positive attitude of these stakeholders towards PDRMs, the multiplicity and diversity of PDRMs, as well as the support of various institutions to such initiatives are considered to be good opportunities for the harmonisation and application of these practices in the country's justice system. On the other hand, the absence of clear laws and policies related to the legitimacy of the informal justice systems, the level of administration to which they should be accountable, their interconnection with the formal courts and other state structures, the scope of application of their jurisdiction and their financial transactions are found to be serious challenges that demand immediate attention. Some of the hitherto existing research works are found to be scattered, poorly cross-referenced and out-of-the-reach of researchers and readers; while others are shallow in their investigative depth and limited in thematic and geographical coverage. In order to address these challenges and dilemmas, the article recommends the establishment of a new regulatory organ at macro level that has the capability and legitimacy to adapt and harmonise PDRMs in ways that can preserve the traditional African indigenous values and at the same time respect international human rights convention.

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