The quest for Democratic oversight: The National Defense Forces of Ethiopia | Tessema | Nova Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

The quest for Democratic oversight: The National Defense Forces of Ethiopia

Damtew Tessema


Democratic oversight to the defense forces is imperative in pursuing of democratic system due to the fact that unchecked and unaccountable defense apparatus is a threat for the sustenance of healthy political system. Against the backdrop of improvements in politico-legal framework for promoting democracy, this article examines the state of Democratic oversights to the Defense Forces of Ethiopia. Drawing on qualitative analysis based on the data gained from primary and secondary sources, the article proves that the practices of overseeing the Ethiopian Defense forces to ensure accountability by the parliament, civil societies and executives were less effective. The Defense and security Affairs standing committee of the parliament has legal permission to undertake supervision though its effectiveness has been constrained by its weak institutional performance. Some norms and practices of the country disregarded the involvement of civil societies in the issue of defense. In addition, the law of the Defenses forces of Ethiopia equivocally prohibits external auditing though the constitution empowered the Auditor General of the federal government to audit and inspect all the Ministries. In fact, the Prime Minster and his security advisor have access to the periodical defense reports. But, his office was dependent on reports and lacked capable supervisory team. Due to the prevalence of legal and practical constraints the exercise of overseeing the defense forces to ensure accountability and transparency became unlikely.

Keywords: Defense, Oversight, Accountability, Parliament, Civil Societies 

Full Text:



Addis Fortune. Metal and Engineering Cooperation (METEC). Addis Fortune Magazine. 2013.>columns>metal…

CIHR. Sounding the Horn: Ethiopia’s Civil Societies Law Threatens Human Rights Defenders. Northwestern University School of Law: Center for International Human Rights, 2009. Available at

Damtew Tessema. Crisis Leadership in Ethiopia: A Comparative Analysis on the 1989 Coup D'état and the Post-2016 Protracted Political Instability. 2017; 7(9):181-90. Int J SciRes Publ.

Derbe Mekuria. The role of Ethiopia Defense Forces in Achieving National Security Objectives: Analysis of the Progress. A thesis submitted to Cranfield University, College of management and technology for the impartial fulfillment of MSC in Security sector management; Cranfield; 2014.

Eden Cole, Kerstin Eppert, and Katrin Kinzelbach. Public Oversight of the Security Sector: A Handbook for Civil Society Organizations. United Nations Development Programme. Geneva; 2008. Available at

Ethiopian National Defense Forces ((ENDF). ‘Vision, Mission and Values of the Ministry. Unpublished teaching Material. Addis Ababa 2012.

FDRE Proclamation no. 470/2005. House of Peoples’ Representatives Working Procedure and Members’ Code of Conduct (Amendment): FDRE, Addis Ababa; 2005.

FDRE Regulation No.3/1998, House of Peoples’ Representatives of FDRE, Rules of Procedures of Members code of conduct Regulation: FDRE, Addis Ababa; 1998.

FDRE. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopian Constitution: Berhanina Selam Printing Enterprise, Addis Ababa; 1995.

Hans Born. Democratic Oversight of the Security Sector. What Does it Mean?: Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), working paper series – no. 9; Geneva;2002. Available at

Heiner Hänggi. ‘Security sector Reform – Concept and Contexts’, in Transformation: A security sector Reform Reader: Pasig City, Philippines, in CiTEGov; 2012.

Interview with Unanimous Respondent (military rank) interviewed at his office in Addis Ababa, on 20 August 2017.

Interview with Unanimous Respondent interviewed at his office in Addis Ababa, on 23 August 2014.

Merera Gudina. The Trends of Ethiopian Democracy and Federal System. Challenges and Opportunities (Amharic): Participant in the consultancy conference organized by Fana Broadcasting Corporation, Addis Ababa; 2016.

Ministry of Information (MOI). The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy 2002. and strategy available at

Office for Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy (OPPD). Parliamentary oversight of the security sector: Dick Toornstra, Geneva; 2013.

Parliament of Namibia. Guide to Public Participation in the Law making Process. Division of Research and Information Services: Capital Press, Windhoek; 2006.

Plamen Pantev. The Shift to Democracy, in Plamen Pantev (eds.) Civil-Military Relations and Democratic Control of the Security Sector. Bulgaria: Procon ltd, Bulgaria; 2005.

Rockman, B. A. Legislative-Executive Relations and Legislative Oversight. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 1984; 9(3): 387-440. Washington. D.C.: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.

Proclamation No. 809/2013.Defense proclamation of Feral Democratic republic of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa.

Taskforce (2011).‘Users’ Manual for the Charities and Societies Law.’ Addis Ababa: Taskforceon-Enabling Environment for Civil Society in Ethiopia. Availableat

Venantius Nauyoma S. Namibian Parliament’s Oversight Role over the Security Sector: A Case Study of the Parliamentary Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Security of both Houses. A Thesis Submitted In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Security and Strategic Studies; 2015.

Volkan Ayter. (ed.) Democratic Oversight of the Security Sector: Turkey and the World: TESEV Publications, Geneva; 2006.

Yohannis A. Disputes resulted from Giant projects under METEC Contract (Amharic). 2017; 189. Reporter Amharic.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Nova Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences ISSN 2292-7913 (Online)Published by Nova Pub inc.

Nova Explore Publications
is a member of CrossRef.
DOI Prefix: 10.20286