A Non-event: The Curious Case of Ratifying the African Women’s Rights Framework in Ethiopia

Karmen Tornius

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskning


Why did the Ethiopian government ratify the African Union’s women’s rights framework, the Maputo Protocol, 15 years after it had signed it? And why, once they had done it, did they tell no one? Constructivist accounts of women’s struggles discuss processes of translating international norms to local contexts, but rarely account for the intricacies of national politics. The case of Ethiopia shows that the reality of adopting a normative framework is immensely complex and contextual. This article contributes to an understanding of what happens to international norms in national political contexts. Based on qualitative interviews, the article uses empirical data to understand how the interplay of international influence, political regime, dominant ideology and the content of the Maputo Protocol (Kang 2015) led an ad hoc and quiet ratification of the treaty. The case of Ethiopia and the Maputo Protocol challenges mainstream theories on treaty ratification. For Ethiopia, ideological tenets informed the government’s relationship with human rights and consequently with human right treaties (Feyissa 2011, Richardson-Little 2019). This aspect is rarely explored in the treaty literature. Ethiopian state did not act like expected from authoritarian regimes (Neumayer 2007, Fadaee 2016) and was resilient to donor pressures (Fantini and Puddu 2016). Ethiopia’s list of reservations to the Protocol shows commitment to ethnonationalist ideology and maintaining the status quo. The article argues that the ratification of the Maputo Protocol was perceived as a non-event on the ground – a change that did not happen. The empirical data from this article reveals some shortcomings of mainstream theories on treaty ratification when situated in a particular political setting and is useful for exploring the gaps within the human rights system.
StatusUdgivet - 2022
BegivenhedCanadian Association of African Studies Conference 2022 - Online
Varighed: 16 maj 202219 maj 2022


KonferenceCanadian Association of African Studies Conference 2022

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