|The name of Emperor Haile Selassie I will always be dominant in Ethiopian history. This is |
particularly so in connection with the legal and constitutional changes which he has
instituted in the millenial history of the country. In this record July 16, 1931 is particularly
significant. On that memorable day, of his own volition and against strong conservative
opposition, He granted to the Ethiopian people the first written constitution ever.
In the succeeding years, His Majesty the Emperor built on the basis of the 1931 Constitution
a system of law and a legal and judicial system that has transformed modern Ethiopia. On
the Silver Jubilee of his Coronation which consolidated the gains over the previous
twenty-four years and gave the people greater participation in their government through
making the Lower House of Parliment a popularly elected body. Subsequently, His
Imperial Majesty had the laws of the country codified, thus strengthening further the legal
and judicial systems of Ethiopia.
|Decree - Granting Constitution|
Jul. 16, 1931
|... We consider that it is Our duty to decree and enforce all the measures necessary for the |
maintenance of Our Government, for increasing the well-being of Our people and aiding their
progress on the road to happiness and the civilization attained by independent and cultured
nations. We consider that the way to achieve this aim lies in the elaboration of the present
Constitution, which will facilitate Government action, whilst assuring the happiness of the
people who will, in addition, derive from it an honour which will not fail to be reflected on
future generations and will permit the Empire to enjoy the inestimable benefits of peace and
|We, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, having been called to the Empire by the Grace of God and |
by the unanimous voice of the people; and having the Crown and the Throne legitimately by
annointment according to the law, are convinced that there is no better way of manifesting the
gratitude which We owe to Our Creator, who has chosen Us and granted Us his confidence, than to
render Ourselves worthy of it by making every effort so that he who comes after Us may be
invested with this confidence and may work in conformity with the laws according to the principles
Having in view the prosperity of the country, We have decided to draw up a Constitution which
safeguards such prosperity based on the Law and We have hope that this Constitution will be a
source of well-being for Ethiopia, that it will contribute to the maintenance of Our Government and
to the happiness and prosperity of Our well beloved people, and that it will give satisfaction to all.
Having expressed and made clear Our will, We have accordingly decided to grant this Constitution.
The Constitution which is to serve as the basis, in the future, for the maintenance of the Ethiopian
Government and of the laws which are based on it, and the means of applying such laws once
resolved, will itself set forth the necessity of the measures suitable for ensuring its maintenance in
order that this Constitution of Our State may remain perpetual and immutable.
Since Our accession to the Imperial Throne of Ethiopia, having received from the hands of God a
high mission for the accomplishment of His destinies, We consider that it is Our duty to decree and
enforce all the measures necessary for the maintenance of Our Government, for increasing the
well-being of Our people and aiding their progress on the road to happiness and the civilization
attained by independent and culured nations.
We consider that the way to achieve this aim lies in the elaboration of the present Constitution,
which will facilitate Government action, whilst assuring the happiness of the people who will, in
addition, derive from it an honour which will not fail to be reflected on future generations and will
permit the Empire to enjoy the inestimable benefits of peace and security.
Animated by the nobel desire, and in order to enable Our State and Our people to obtain a high
place in history, We have, after Our elevation to the Imperial Throne, and in the second year of Our
reign in the Year of Grace 1923 (A.D. 1931) unasked and of Our free will, decreed the present State
|Haile Selassie the First - July 16, 1931|