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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


MEKONNEN, Seid Demeke. The right to sustainable development in article 43(3) of the Ethiopian Constitution. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2021, vol.21, n.2, pp.1009-1035. ISSN 1996-2096.

Article 43(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia provides that all international agreements concluded by the country shall respect Ethiopia's right to sustainable development. The concept of the 'right to sustainable development' contained in this provision is somewhat unclear. Issues such as the right holders and duty bearers, justiciability and binding nature of this right require clarification in order to effectively enforce it. This article argues that both the state and its people, but not individuals, are the right holders of this right. Under the Constitution the state is the duty bearer of fundamental human rights and freedoms, which include the right to sustainable development. It is the duty of the government to ensure that all international agreements adopted by Ethiopia respect the country's right to sustainable development. Although this right is contained in the Constitution as a goal and group right which does not impose a binding obligation to be enforced by courts, the state should take steps to progressively realise the right by adopting international agreements that incorporate the economic, social and environmental objectives of sustainable development in a balanced manner. In general, the government has a 'soft constitutional obligation' to respect and enforce the right to sustainable development stipulated in article 43(3) in order to protect development-related national interests, ensure legal certainty and consistency, and avoid indirect foreign interference which may occur under the disguise of international agreements and cooperation.

Keywords : Federal Republic of Ethiopian Constitution; group rights; justiciability; right holders and duty bearers; right to sustainable development.

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