Is US action under the Ambit of International Law? Human Right and International Peace and Security at Risk?

“Whoever ill-treats a citizen indirectly injures the State, which must protect that citizen.” Vattel, on ‘The Law of Nations’

The corpus of international law is the most controversial area of law opened for legal battles, when different actors interpret it to favor their interest while taking actions. This regime of law has faced criticism for not having enforcement mechanisms which can be consider as an area of law like a lion without having a teeth. Leaving this behind, this piece assess the US drone strike of Iranian commander which took place in 3 January 2020 in light of international law through doctrinal analysis of different sources.  

The world has learn from the atrocities of the two world wars and promised among other things to maintain international peace and security as well as to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war under the preamble of the UN charter. The charter under article 2(4) urge all member states to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. This system of territorial integrity is a matter of sovereignty which is attributable to the Westphalia system of 1648. However, states have an inherent right in exceptional circumstances to resort to use of force under the ambit of art. 51 of the UN charter in situations of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. It’s only in these two scenarios that the charter allowed use of force by states against another state. In this vein, unsettled issues are evolving which are controversial to employ force by states such as, use of force for humanitarian intervention, protection of nationals abroad and national liberation movements.

The US action: Where it falls? Is it under the ambit of International Law?

In the first days of 2020 the Trump administration employed the bush doctrine of anticipatory self-defense in assassinating the Iranian Commander Soleimani in Baghdad. The action of US is not only limited in affecting one UN member state’s sovereignty (Iran) rather it is also unwarranted interference against the territorial integrity of a third UN member state which is Iraq without its knowledge. This shows how power affects the international system and how it gives unfettered freedom for the superpowers in disregarding international law.

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Legislative proposals and application of human right treaties in Ethiopia


It has often been considered that every addition of a new law in a statute book is amending a prior existing law. As a result, analyzing legislative proposal both in its relation and in its effect with rights and privileges under existing and established law continues to be an important subset of Legislative Drafting. A person engaged in analyzing the legislative proposal should either be familiar with the existing relevant law or know where it can be found. Existing laws, among other things, constitute human right treaties that a country has ratified and form part of its domestic law – either by way of ‘legislative’ or ‘automatic’ incorporation. Legislative and Automatic incorporation of human right treaties into domestic law is traditionally known as ‘Dualistic’ and ‘Monistic’ methods respectively. Regardless of whether a domestic law society is monist or dualist, one way of complying with human right treaties is through analyzing legislative proposals as to whether domestic draft laws accord with the values and principles enshrined under human right treaties.
The main focus of this essay is to examine the Ethiopian method of implementation of international Human right treaties with an emphasis on its impact on drafters’ analysis of legislative proposals.Although the implementation of human rights entails a wide array of activities,[4] this essay briefly discusses incorporation of international standards into domestic laws as a main focus from the variety of activities that states are to take at national level.This essay argues that the method of implementation used by Ethiopia is ineffective and has deprived drafters from analyzing the consistency of legislative proposals with human right treaty provisions. In doing so, the essay proceeds as follows: section one offer the Ethiopian method of implementation of human right treaties. Section two explores Ethiopian drafters’ analysis of legislative proposals and the problem they face as a result of the method of implementation. The final section draws the threads together and concludes the essay.
I. Method of implementation of Human Right Treaties in Ethiopia


As there are no stipulations on how states should implement human rights standards at international level, the implementation of international human right treaties is dependent on domestic law and entirely left to the states to decide on how obligations will be implemented. Domestic legal system must provide favorable legislative and administrative frameworks if treaty based guarantees are to be translated into reality for domestic beneficiaries. In addition, human right treaties incorporate a set of values that have to be respected during interpretation, application and development of legislation and statutory laws. As a result, states must affirmatively incorporate international human right treaties into domestic laws as one method of implementation. Although there are a great variety of domestic methods for implementation of international human rights instruments, there are two common ways of constitutional method which determines the implementation of treaty provisions into domestic laws: legislative incorporation and automatic incorporation. In some countries with the ‘legislative incorporation’ method such as United Kingdom, there is a separate legislative Act enacting specific provisions of a treaty for the incorporation of treaty provision into domestic laws. This method is referred to as ‘dualist’ in that a strong distinction is maintained between domestic and international law, and the latter must be written into the former in order to carry substantial and enforceable weight. In other countries with the ‘automatic incorporation’ method like France, without the need to have separate legislative Act, ratification and publication in the official Gazette simply converts treaty provisions into domestic law. This method is referred to as ‘monist’, in that both domestic and international law are considered equal and as having the same effect.

The method of incorporation of international human right treaties in Ethiopia indicate that Ethiopia does not strictly adhere to one method of incorporation as the Ethiopian constitution provides for both methods.

One the one hand, article 9(4) of the Ethiopian Constitution declares that “All international agreements ratified by Ethiopia are integral parts of the law of the land.” From international law point of view, the wording of this provision tends to show international agreements need to be transformed as the word ‘…law of the land’ usually refers for international agreements to be transformed, rather than merely adopted, into municipal law. Transformation in dualistic state refers to a situation where relevant domestic laws are amended or repealed to comply with international agreements. International agreement in Ethiopia is concluded by the State’s Executive branch which must subsequently submit it for ratification to the House of Peoples Representatives (HPR hereafter). Under Article 55(12) of the Ethiopian constitution, the HPR ‘shall ratify international agreements concluded by the Executive.’ In addition, article 2(2) and (3) of the Proclamation of Federal Negarit Gazette requires that all Laws of the Federal Government shall be published and all Federal and Regional legislative, executive and judicial organs should take judicial notice of laws published under the Gazette. Once they are ratified, all international agreements, including human rights instruments, are integral parts of the law of the land (Art.9 (4) of the constitution). According to these provisions, Ethiopia could be classified as dualist as a national legislation needs to be promulgated in order for the provisions of international instruments to be implemented at the domestic level. However, all ratification proclamations contain only three and sometimes four provisions with short title, responsible organ (sometimes), ratification, and effective date. Although the dualist method is much known for its ‘transformative’ concept, the Ethiopian parliament only declares a mere pronouncement through ratification proclamation. There are neither laws which are amended as a result of ratification nor repeal with the ratification proclamation. In Ethiopian history of ratification proclamation, there is no single ratification proclamation with the actual ratified treaty and there are no translations of the actual treaty provisions.

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The Ethio-Eritrea Rapprochement - a Catalyst to Hone Human Rights Profile?

The human rights profile of Ethiopia and Eritrea have been infamous. Both countries have criticised by the leading UN human rights bodies, regional and NGOs. Now, these countries are making history by torn down the wall of resentment built after bloody boarder war. Would this new chapter of rapprochement enable them to revamp their human rights profile?

Before examining the role of rapprochement for the improvement of human rights, it is worth to glance a laconic view of major events held in the past few years. Ethiopia and Eritrea have been rancorous rivals in the political economy of the Horn of Africa. (See here, here, and here).Even one accuses the other for sheltering rebels and assisting armed groups, and they were also engaging in proxy-war held in Somalia in 2006. Initially, two countries went to battlefield for an iota piece of land called Badme though the casus belli was mainly economic and other political factors. The conflict between two brotherly States reached its peak in the year 1998-2000, in turn, costed both of them inter alia, it claimed the lives of more than 70,000 people, displaced civilians, pummeled their economy, brought serious violation of international humanitarian law and waned the human rights situations.

This blog post did not delve into the cause-effect analysis the rapprochements nor specific case studies of human rights  rather it aimed at discussing few musings on the role of the rapprochement for the betterment of human rights in both States.

      Picture credit: Eritrean MoI

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Snapshot Review of Imperative Necessity and challenges for Implementation IHL: Part One




The implementation of the International Humanitarian Law (hereinafter referred to as IHL) mainly rests upon the effort of the state parties. The international humanitarian law is currently accepted by every country in the world but the absence of a comprehensive and meticulous mechanism to enforce the rules embodied in IHL, is an Achilles’ heel fuelled by the very nature of IHL which is meant to regulate the issues that arise out of armed conflict.

Where there is an existing issue that causes harm, once recognized a law is set in that specific area to govern or to address that issue. This could be so as to minimize the damage that the issue causes, to prohibit that act from being committed or it could also be just to manage or set a guideline as to how those acts should be committed. Armed conflict or war is a commonly known phenomenon that causes great destruction.

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Snapshot Review of Imperative Necessity and challenges for Implementation IHL: Part Two



1. Problems of Implementation in International Humanitarian Law


Failure to implement IHL is conceived as a central problem in contemporary armed conflict laws in general and Ethiopia in particular. However, it must be noted that difficulties regarding securing compliance is not something that is unique to the law of armed conflict, but also an issue in international law. This problem by large is related to the lack of a central enforceable organ that looks after the implementation of those laws.

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በኢትዮጵያ የሲቪክ ምህዳር መብቶች ጥበቃ እና የሚስተዋሉ አንዳንድ ችግሮች




“The importance of ensuring the broadest possible civic space in every country cannot be overstated…The protection of the civic space, and the empowerment of human rights defenders, needs to become a key priority for every principled global, regional and national actor."

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Sidewalks in Addis, the visually impaired, and human rights


Walking in Addis Ababa is not safe for people with disabilities because the infrastructure is not constructed considering their needs. For example, it is very common to see uncovered drainage line holes which are usually found on the sidewalks and have caused accidents to many. The visually impaired are especially vulnerable to accidents since, in addition to the drainage line holes being left open, the tactile sidewalks which are meant to guide them usually lead directly to the holes.

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The Police and Human Rights in Ethiopia


This article is about “The police and human rights in Ethiopia”. Every state has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights of human beings. And police as one part the executive organ of government has its own obligations towards human rights. These include the obligation to respect and protect human rights. And police officers have also a direct and day to day contact with the entire society that requires an enormous effort and patience of police officers to respect and protect human rights.

The objective of this article is to survey the different aspects of human rights, explore the role of police in relation to human rights in the federal system of Ethiopia and examine the possible remedies for violation of human rights in a summarized fashion.    

The scope of this article is limited to the police, its role in relation to the respect and protection of human rights, the possibilities in which police officers violate human rights and the possible remedies for violation of human rights. And deep analysis of all responsibilities of police is not the concern of this article. 

Questions such as: What are the responsibilities of police in respecting and protection human rights? How are victims treated by police officers? Is there any guideline or technique regarding treatment of victims in Ethiopia? What are the international, regional and national legal frameworks of remedies for violation of human rights? What are the possible remedies for violation of human rights? Are all the remedies effectively applicable in Ethiopia? How far are police officers responsible for their actions that violate human rights of citizens? and other related questions are answered, assessed and analyzed under this article. 

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Ethiopia’s Human Rights Treaty Reporting to the UN Treaty Bodies


Preamble of the United Nations (UN) Charter requires member states and the people of the UN “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”. In order to achieve this goal of the charter and secure universal recognition and implementation of human rights to their citizens’ member states of the United Nations entered into seven major human rights treaties.


The seven core international human rights treaties create legal obligations for state parties to promote and protect human rights at the national level. When a country accepts one of these treaties through ratification, accession or succession, it assumes a legal obligation to implement the rights set out in that treaty. In addition to this, state parties to these treaties have also the obligation to report every activities conducted in the name of implementation to the United Nations treaty based bodies. 

Ethiopia as a member of the United Nation and member of these human rights treaties has the obligation to implement the treaties and report its implementation. However, a part from the implementation problem Ethiopia has been criticized for its failure or delay to report its implementation of the treaties. Keeping in mind this criticism related to Ethiopian human rights reporting record, questions and issues related with human rights reporting system with special emphasis to the Ethiopian context is assessed and analyzed under this paper. And, just because human rights reporting are highly related with the rights enshrined under the treaties concepts about some rights are discussed in a summarized fashion.  

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Rocks of Hope: Interrogating PM DR Abiy Ahmed’s Reform within the Boomerang Model of Human Rights



As I write this term paper, stream of demonstrations across Ethiopia has continued owing to human rights violations. Human rights and social movements have constitutive relationship. An Ethiopian scholar of human rights focuses on policy outcomes and legal decisions. Scholarship that examines this link in Ethiopia is relatively slow to develop.

Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPDRF) has been attempting to silence social movements. There have been brutal crackdowns. The crackdown on people’s social movement resulted in further resistance. At this stage, the regime is giving locus for dissident voices and we are experiencing glimmer of hope for human rights protection is taking its resonance.  Hitherto, rapid pace of reform is taking place since the appointment of Prime Minister (PM) DR Abiy Ahmed as of April 2, 2018.

Rocks of hope are an engagement citizens have been taking for protection of human rights in Ethiopia. It represents a struggle for justice in the face of injustice.  It represents those who fought for equality in the face of inequality. It connotes optimism followed the reform. These are values of legitimate struggle. Values of legitimate struggle are terse in the Constitution of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Constitution herein after. Under the 7th paragraph of the Preamble of the Constitution, it is provided that the common struggle of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples has brought the peace and the prospects of democratic order of the country.

In human rights language, Boomerang Model is the strategy of identifying human rights violations someplace and then generating attention in order to bring pressure to bear on the perpetrators back in the country of concern. Repressive regimes may be subject to internal and external pressures to conform with human rights norms. In response, they may consider concessions to secure trade advantages, or because they have been ashamed for not conforming to the standards of the international community.

The theme of this term paper is interrogating the reform within the Boomerang Model. It deals with the resistance paid to bring the reform and the responses and steps taken. The pace of reform will be assessed in terms of the ramifications it has on human rights protection. It ends with conclusion and recommendation.

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