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Centres of Excellence

Good Governance

The Center for Federalism and Governance Studies (CFGS), established in 2006, is a Department within the College of Law and Governance Studies of Addis Ababa University. It was established with the vision to be a leading center of excellence in teaching, research and consultancy in multilevel government (federalism, devolution, good governance, local government) with a view to promoting unity in diversity, good governance, peace, development and regional integration in the Horn of Africa. 

The Center runs an interdisciplinary M.A Program in Federalism and Governance Studies and a PhD Program in Federalism and Governance. In addition to students from Ethiopia, applicants to the MA and PhD programs include students from South Sudan and Somalia.

The Center currently has 17 full time academic staff comprising of 4 Associate Professors (all with PhD who are actively engaged in teaching and research both in Ethiopia and in the region) who have published extensively in the area of comparative federalism and decentralization and resolution of constitutional disputes, 6 Assistant Professors (all with PhD), 8 Lecturers. Five visiting professors from partner institutions based in Switzerland (Institute of Federalism), South Africa (Dullah Omar Institute) and Italy (EURAC South Tyrol) are engaged in the PhD program, joint annual seminars and joint research projects. The CFGS has its own Journal (Ethiopian Journal of Federalism) and publishes reputable articles every year.

CFGS also provides short training on federalism, devolution, local government and other governance related matters to officials and practitioners coming from the region including Somalia, Yemen, the Sudan and South Sudan.  The Center has its own building where it conducts graduate classes and seminars.  There is one computer lab containing 20 computers connected to electronic library and the internet. Staff and students have full access to the Center’s and the University wide Library.

Existing and planned collaboration of CFGS with other International and regional institutions

The CFGS while serving as the hub and a leading center for this project, it partners with two departments of Addis Ababa University (school of law, political science and international relations), three other institutions within the African continent that are members of ARUA and has institutional linkage with other relevant academic institution both in the Horn and beyond. These include   the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitution, Governance and Human Rights of the University of the Western Cape (formerly Community Law Centre), Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, the Katibba Institute of Nairobi, Kenya, University of Nairobi, Kenya, Institute of Federalism of Fribourg University Switzerland, and Institute for Studies on Federalism and Regionalism (EURAC), South Tyrol-Italy.

The CFGS has signed a memorandum of understanding with the above-mentioned institutions and professors from these institutes often come and provide lectures to MA and PhD students.

Project Title: Federalism, Devolution and Regional Integration as a Response for Crises of Governance in the Horn of Africa

The ARUA application for Center of excellence in good governance was designed with a view to provide research based answer to the following key research questions that continue to challenge the Horn of Africa region and beyond:

  • Can federalism/devolution ensure continued unity of the respective countries while ensuring the aspirationsof ethno national and sub state entities to self -rule and political autonomy at regional state level? Are sub national units sufficiently empowered and adequately resourced so as to prevent concentration of power at the center and serve as autonomous self governing centers of development? Are national institutions inclusive of sub national actors?
  • What role do the supreme courts (constitutional courts) play in institutionalizing and limiting political power by giving concrete interpretive meaning to the vertical division of power between the center and the sub units? Do sub national entities have legal safeguards against excessive intrusion from the center and do higher level courts play a balancing role?
  • Can federalism and devolution help in establishing a loose political and economic integration among the countries in the Horn beyond improving internal governance issues in each country? What role can the IGAD play in this regard?

Methodology and Strategy

One or two senior academicians from the CFGS or the partner institutions, who are experts on the federal/devolved system of a specific country under investigation, will be commissioned to investigate and write a paper on the state of the federal/devolved system of the country by way of answering an agreed upon template that provides detail list of key questions linked to the research questions.

 The preparation of the papers will take two steps. The author of each paper will have to conduct roundtable among key stakeholders in preparing the draft chapter and in providing answer to the list of questions in the template in the country under study. The write up of the paper will be preceded by comprehensive literature review on each subtheme, focus group discussion, key expert interview and analysis of relevant constitution, laws and court decisions related to the research question. The author will then present the draft paper to a broader gathering of stakeholders and validate the findings in each country. Papers prepared through this process will then be presented in a regional conference that will be organized by the CFGS and published in reputable journals by way of journal articles and edited book.

Within the Center for Federalism and Governance, College of Law and Governance Studies, Addis Ababa University

Assefa Fiseha (PhD), Associate Professor and Director
Center of Excellence in Good Governance
Tel: +25 1911365192

Team Members from Ethiopia

  • Kassahun Birhanu  (PhD, Prof), political Science and International Relations
  • Assefa Fiseha (PhD, Associate Professor)- Director– of the  Center of Excellence project title: Federalism, Devolution and Regional Integration as a Response for Crises of Governance in the Horn of Africa
  • Solomon Nigussie (PhD, Associate Professor), Dean, College of Law and Governance Studies
  • Asnake Kefale (PhD), Assistant Professor, Political Science and International Relations
  • Zemelak Aytenew (PhD) Associate Professor, Chairman– Center for Federalism and Governance Studies

For partners from other Universities see section 2 below