|We, having been entrusted by the Grace of God with the mission of the protection of
Ethiopia, have decided that it is not sufficient merely to glorify the All-Highest who
has conferred this great honour on Us, with words only, and to give expression to Our
sentiments by petty actions, which are transient and apt to be forgotten.
The efforts which We have made to establish a Constitution which shall be lasting
and of advantage to all, and which shall be handed down from generation to
generation, although they are but the incomplete evidence of Our gratitude to the
All-Highest, We have desired to bring us together, in this place and at this hour, in
order to expound to you the work which We have prepared, and whose realization
We entrust to the All-Highest.
Nobody doubts but the laws bring to mankind the greatest advantages and that the
honour and interest of all persons depend on the wisdom of the laws, whereas
humiliation, shame, iniquity and the denial of man's rights all originate from the
absence or inadequacy of laws.
The Lord, who is above all creations, although possessing the power to order
everything according to His will, has nevertheless wished to establish the rule of law
and to subject it to all creation.
He who is worthy of praise amongst men is the man who, animated by sentiments of
justice, perseveres in the way of equity, and tries to the utmost of his means to
improve the condition, if not of all mankind, at any rate of most of them.
Although many things have arisen to frustrate Our purpose, yet Our constant efforts
in the course of the last years have tended towards the establishment, amongst other
things, of a Constitution. The idea which has so much occupied Our thoughts, in the
interests of Ethiopia and Our well-beloved people, and which has been the subject of
our unceasing attention, is the one which We are now expounding:
1. To grant a Constitution to the entire Ethiopian people;
2. To ensure that it is observed and maintained.
The main provisions of this Constitution, which We are giving to the Ethiopian
people, are as follows:
1. Ethiopia must remain united, without dissension, like the members of a family.
She must be regulated by a Constitution of universal application and governed by an
Emperor. The force of this unity must be based on community interests, so that the
individual, without as a result suffering neglect or prejudice, may understand the
power of this unity and the advantages to be drawn from it in the protection of his
personal interests, whilst at the same time renouncing all personal ambition which
would be to the detriment of the common goal.
2. The law, whether it entails reward or punishment, must apply equally to all,
3. It is not useless to recall that in the past, the Ethiopian people, being completely
isolated from the rest of the world and thus unable to take advantage of the great
movements of modern civilization, were in a backward state which justified their
Sovereign governing them as a good father rules his household. But considerable
progress having occurred in all directions thanks to Our subjects, their Emperor is
entitled to decide that the grant of a Constitution is not premature and that the time
has come for them to share in the mighty task which their Sovereigns alone have had
to accomplish in the past.
It is necessary for the modern Ethiopian to accustom himself to take part in the
direction of all departments of the State, and it is with that in mind that We have
resolved, so that those who are worthy to do so may sit in them, to create two
Chambers whose members will be chosen by Provinces, with the approval of the
Emperor. Decisions will be taken in these Chambers according to the wishes of the
majority of their members, but they will not enjoy the force of the law until they have
received the approval of His Majesty the Emperor.
4. Responsible Ministers will be charged with the execution in the whole of
Ethiopia, in conformity with the interests of the State and the people, of the decisions
arrived at in the deliberations of these Chambers, after they have received the
approval of His Majesty the Emperor.
5. So as to allay any doubt that may exist as to the succession to the Throne and to
avoid the imputation of any prejudice to Ethiopia, the right to the Imperial Throne is
reserved, by this Constitution, to the actual dynasty.
6. The utilitarian object of laws being to develop human progress in accordance
with the most high and certain principles, these laws must be based on scientific
methods, having as their object a harmonious improvement of all things.
7. This Constitution has not been produced haphazardly, nor is it in conflict with
the customs of the country. It is inspired by and modelled on the principles of other
civilized countries. It has been studied with the collaboration of Princes, Dignitaries,
and the most enlightened of Our subjects.
Man can only begin an enterprise, it is for God to dispose of it to a good end. We
hope that the Lord will help Us to apply this Constitution and allow Us to complete
the task which We have taken upon Ourselves.
To conclude, We wish to thank the Diplomatic and Consular Corps who have been
good enough to lend additional splendour to this solemn occasion by their presence
on this happy day on which We have appended Our signature to this the Constitution
of Our State.
|Haile Selassie the First - July 16, 1931|