Strengthening Law, Democratization and Media in Ethiopia

  • How can the rule of law and democratization be promoted in Ethiopia?
  • How can civil rights be consolidated and bottom-up participation and active citizenship be encouraged?
  • How can the media contribute to strengthening of the rule of law, the promotion of democratization, the consolidation of civil rights and the encouragement of participation and active citizenship?

Running from January 2020 to April 2023, Strengthening Law, Democratization and Media in Ethiopia (LA-DEM-MED) seeks to address some of the major political challenges in Ethiopia, which has been experiencing a period of great political turmoil over the past five years

The project establishes collaborations between academic institutions, policy makers and independent media channels in order to advance freedom of expression and critical debate as well as support policy reform and improved government performance (particularly in the justice sector).

It brings together law experts, political scientists and media specialists with the shared interest in addressing the security situation in Ethiopia, which has seen increased levels of violence and polarization ahead of the 2020 national elections.

This project brings together different sectors, networks and disciplines into a coherent triangular coalition with law experts, political scientists and media specialists

Why is this research relevant?

The project is grounded in a multi-faceted approach that simultaneously supports professionals of state institutions to become more inclusive, strengthens independent media, and increases public participation in political processes.

Three main areas of work

  1. Strengthening journalism and media at a grassroots level through curriculum review and collaboration with community radio stations.
  2. Establishing three Training Centres on Law, Democratization and Media to provide tailor-made executive programmes and short-term skills training as well as facilitate community dialogue.
  3. Establishing an interregional platform on Law, Democratisation and Media that facilitates public debates and seminars at the regional/national level, focusing in particular on the 2020 elections and the post-election phase.

The research component of the project will involve studies on the performance of government institutions (in particular the justice sector); the election process and the role of electoral boards and media, and access to justice especially for vulnerable groups.

SDG goal 16

The project is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 16 (on peaceful and inclusive societies and accountable institutions) as well as Aspiration 3 of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 (on democratic values, justice and the rule of law).


The project is led by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Oromia State University in Ethiopia

The research team at the International Institute of Social Studies are led by Professor Wil Hout and includes Professor Karin Arts and Dr Jeff Handmaker.

Other research partners

  • Free Press Unlimited
  • Mekelle University
  • Bahir Dar University
  • Jimma University
  • Association of Ethiopian Broadcasters


  • This project is funded through the Orange Knowledge Programme - a € 220 m Dutch global development programme, available in 54 developing countries and managed by Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organisation for internationalization in education.

    Launched mid-2017, it aims to have provided tens of thousands with the possibility to change their future through education and training by mid-2022.

    The programme is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Nuffic logo - 2021


  • prof.dr. (Wil) W Hout

    Wil Hout is professor of Governance and International Political Economy at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam…
    prof.dr. (Wil) W Hout

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