Gebreyesus Abegaz Yimer (Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht): The Plurality of Norms in Ethiopia: Courts in Defense of Pluralism

Conflicts Club

  • Datum: 25.04.2023
  • Uhrzeit: 11:00
  • Ort: Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht
Über das Thema:
Ethiopia introduced modern law codes to unify the laws of the land in the 1960s. Unifying laws were assumed to enhance trade and investment and improve the country's judicial sovereignty. However, after 63 years since the codification of laws, there is abundant evidence that the pluralism of norms remains the reality in the country. The introduction of law codes has not changed the plurality of laws in Ethiopia into a single legal system as was intended. Islamic, church, and customary laws are still important in society and regulate social relations. In one of its decisions, the supreme court admitted that plurality of norms is the reality in Ethiopia. The question is, therefore, how courts deal with this social reality. The project uses court decisions to explain how courts deal with this scenario. We mainly use court decisions on traditional financial institutions, bigamous marriages and contracts to describe the courts' position. The findings indicate that courts in Ethiopia at all levels, from lower courts up to the highest courts of the land, commonly defend the pluralism of norms. Courts tend to disregard official laws when they are convinced that the social reality demands considering the religions or customary norms. Courts commonly apply the norms that society accepts instead of the provisions of the law codes when they believe the official laws are less relevant to the specific case at hand.
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