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Grass-roots Justice in Ethiopia

Alula Pankhurst
Getachew Assefa


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1Many individuals have in different ways helped the research project that culminated in this publication. We would like to thank all those who assisted us in the preparation of this book. A special mention of the contributions of the members of the Steering Committee is deserved. The members, namely Abebe Mulatu, Bezawork Shimelash, Dominique Francke, Laura Bourassa, Million Habte, and Stephane Balland have spent several days over a number of months devising the research plan, supervising the field research, discussing and summarizing the findings, drawing out conclusions and preparing the write-up of an interim report which was submitted to the Ministry of Justice in December 2004.

2We wish to thank all the researchers who participated in the project, most of whose work has been edited and included in this book. Dominik Kohlhagen kindly adapted an article he had written on the relationship between state and customary law in sub-Saharan Africa for inclusion as a background chapter providing a broader contextualization of the issues. We should also like to acknowledge the special role of Dereje Feyissa, who wrote the chaper on Gambella and drafted the background section on Gambella in our introductory chapter, and his assistant Luk Kuoy. We should like to acknowledge the help of François Piguet who drafted the background section on Afar and suggested corrections to the Afar chapter. Aramis Houmed Soulé kindly allowed us access to his manuscript on Afar customary dispute resolution.

3We are most grateful to Ato Agazi Tiumelissan and Ato Tesfu Baraki who carried out excellent research assistance in reviewing the vast literature on the subject. We are also grateful to Sarah Vaughan and to the Ethiopian Ministry of Federal Affairs for allowing us access to their library material. We are indebted to all those who have written on this topic including numerous researchers who have produced theses notably at Addis Ababa University, many of which are referred to in the introduction and included in the references. A number of researchers, notably Andrea Nicolas, Meaza Ashenafi and Monika Sommer, considerately provided us with their theses and reports. Wolbert Smidt kindly sent a copy of the recently published useful proceedings of the Conference on Ethiopian and German Contributions to Conflict Management and Resolution.

4We are deeply grateful to the French Embassy in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice, and the French Center of Ethiopian Studies who jointly enabled this study to take place. The French Embassy provided financial assistance including the publication costs and the honoraria for researchers that undertook the studies. We greatly appreciate the encouragement of the Embassy’s cooperation and cultural action service and in particular the supportive role of Jamel Oubechou. We also wish to thank Anne Anthony for her backing. The Ethiopian Ministry of Justice embraced the idea of a study on CDR systems in Ethiopia recognising its relevance in the current context, gave the research its endorsement, and allowed the project to hold preparatory, planning and review workshops in its premises. The supreme Court also expressed an interest in the research and its potentially useful findings. The French Centre of Ethiopian Studies and its staff have provided the meeting venue for the Steering Committee from the very beginning of the research.

5Finally, it is with great appreciation that we acknowledge the invaluable contribution of François-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar, Director of the French Center of Ethiopian Studies, in the materialization of this book. He graciously and enthusiastically agreed to reactivate the process of editing the research reports, securing funding for publication and other costs and finally read through and reviewed the research manuscript prior to publication. He constantly reminded us of the need to move forward when the two of us got absorbed in other matters. The views expressed in the chapters are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editors or the sponsoring institutions.

© Centre français des études éthiopiennes, 2008

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