The discursive value of environmental rights for vulnerable communities’ interest in South Omo of Ethiopia

Despite making up a significant portion of the environmental rights revolution in the form of constitutional entrenchment as a fundamental right that defined the early 1990s, Africa is where the impact of such constitutionalization has had little impact for ecological sustainability and protection of vulnerable groups and Ethiopia is no exception. Despite the ratification of numerous human rights conventions and the adoption of an extensive bill of rights in its current constitution, respect for and enforcement of human rights has virtually been very week. In a manifestly high modernist framing of development, the building of mega hydroelectric dams has taken a central role in what Ethiopia calls a green growth strategy for more than a decade. Though carbon free, these projects have a significant ecological impact and have severely affected communities who relied on the rivers for their livelihoods and their distinct way of life. Through an ethnographic case study on a hydroelectric dam along the Omo river in the South Western part of Ethiopia, the thesis will explore the role constitutional norms relating to environmental rights may play in mediating the conflict between the local communities and the state, and in the absence of effective formal judicial remedies, how these norms maybe of use, if at all. In particular, the research will attempt to answer how the global rights framework interacts with local customs on environmental governance and how this interaction may have affected the various actors involved

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