International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Ethiopia

    The Constitution of the 1995 Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) ) makes several direct references to the environment and environmental rights. The first right is the right to a clean and healthy environment.

  • Section 44 of the Ethiopian Constitution guarantees “All persons have the right to live in a clean and healthy environment.”
  • Section 29(2) of the Constitution recognizes the right of citizens to information in general, which should also include the right to information about the environment
  • Section 37(1) of the Constitution features legal provisions that empower “any person” to institute a lawsuit even if a case is not in their vested interest. The Constitution says, “everyone” has the right to bring to court any justiciable matter. Section 37(1) has been used by many local communities to address environmental injustices in local and national courts.

Featured Legislation

1993: The Health Policy was enacted, providing guidelines and directives for prevention of environmental pollution resulting from hazardous chemical wastes.

1995: Proclamation No. 9 was approved, providing for the establishment of the Environmental Protection Authority.

1997: The Environment Policy was passed. The policy’s stated goal is to “improve and enhance the health and quality of life of all Ethiopians and to promote sustainable social and economic development through the sound management and use of natural, human-made and cultural resources and the environment as a whole”. One sectoral policy specifically addresses climate change and atmospheric pollution, through:

  • Promoting a climate monitoring programme
  • Acknowledging a commitment to mitigate emissions, even at low or even insignificant levels of contribution to global emissions
  • Actively participating in protecting the ozone layer, as a means to reduce vulnerability of the highlands of Ethiopia
  • Encouraging re-vegetation, monitoring grazing and rehabilitating degraded land to compensate for high biomass-fuel consumption

2001: National Water Strategy of Ethiopia.This National Water Strategy is one of the three actions to reform the water sector in Ethiopia. Its main objective is to translate the national water resources management policy into action. It contains a set of short, medium and long-term action programs to realize the achievement of development goals and water-related policies: improving the living standard and general socio-economic well-being of the Ethiopian people; realizing food self-sufficiency and food security in the country; extending water supply and sanitation coverage to large segments of the society, thus achieving improved environmental health conditions; generating additional hydro-power; enhancing the contribution of water resources in attaining national development priorities; promoting the principles of integrated water resources management. Fundamental principles pertaining to the formulation of national water strategy remain the same as those were adapted for the preparation of national water resources management policy.

2002: Environmental Impact Assessment Proclamation. This Proclamation prescribes that no person shall commence any new development activity under any category listed in any directive issued pursuant to this Proclamation (‘project’) which requires an environmental impact assessment (further specified in art. 5) without an authorization of the Environmental Protection Authority. The Authority or the relevant regional environmental agency may decide that the possible impact of the project is significant and therefore that no EIA shall be carried out (art. 3). Licensing agencies shall before issuing an investment permit or trade or operating license, ensure that EIA requirements have been fulfilled. Article 4 sets out criteria for the determination of impact. Article 6 concerns impact assessment for projects that are likely to have an impact on the environment of two or more regions. Proponents shall draft IEA in accordance with articles 7 to 9. The Authority shall take a decision on the submitted project/EIA in accordance with article 9. Other provisions of this Proclamation deal with occurrence of new circumstances (art. 11), monitoring of implementation (art. 12), EIA of a public instrument (art. 13), jurisdiction of agencies (art. 14), public participation (art. 15), and various miscellaneous issues. Article 18 prescribes offenses and penalties.

2002: Proclamation No. 299 was created to implement the country’s environmental impact assessments framework.

2008: Regulation No. 159 was promulgated in an attempt to prevent industrial pollution.

2008: Proclamation No. 575 was signed. The legislation oversees Ethiopian wildlife development and conservation.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • In 2020: The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority established an Environmental Crime Unit to control and prevent crimes as well as trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products. The unit will comprise many stakeholders – some of which include the Federal Police, Addis Ababa Police, the Attorney General, INTERPOL, and the Ministry of Agriculture. All actors will work together to facilitate investigations, controlling and responding to crimes against wildlife. Wildlife trafficking is trans-boundary and requires collaboration among East African countries. As such, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Djibouti have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to control such crimes in the Horn. Almaz Meselu, the Agriculture, Pastoralist and Environmental Conservation Affairs Standing Committee Chairperson, is urging authorities to enhance public awareness about the importance and significance of wildlife to communities in hopes that the efforts will create more jobs for communities around national parks and wildlife conservation, whilst promoting wildlife safety. A recent report by The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority reveals that the Illegal wildlife trade has endangered the lives of elephants, leopards and warthogs, threatening sustainable development, livelihoods, good governance and the rule of law in Ethiopia.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change: ​​