Bereket Habte Selassie
African and Afro American Studies
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Born in Eritrea as an Italian colonial subject, I became an Ethiopian as a result of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution joining Eritrea with Ethiopia under a federal arrangement.
After Law School in England I returned to Ethiopia and joined the Ministry of Justice where I eventually became Attorney General. As my resume shows I was also Supreme Court Associate Justice.
I resigned from my position as Attorney General following disagreement with Emperor Haile Selassie’s policy especially over the issue of Eritrea, involving violation of the federation by the Emperor. I then embarked upon a new career as an academic, writing and lecturing on African law and politics.
In 1975, I joined the Eritrean freedom fighters eventually representing them at the United Nations until Eritrea’s liberation in 1991.
In 1994, my legal training and my specialization on constitutional law prompted the Eritrean leaders to appoint me chairman of the Constitutional Commission of Eritrea. The constitution that I helped craft was ratified in 1997 by a Constituent Assembly. Alas! It has not been implemented, which has raised issues of legitimacy of the current government which is ruling by decree.
Meanwhile I have been researching and writing on issues of law and politics. Recent books include Wounded Nation: How a Once Promising Eritrea Was Betrayed and its Future Compromised, (Red Sea Press, 2010) and The Crown and the Pen: The Memoirs of a Lawyer Turned Rebel, (Red Sea Press, 2007).