UPON THE SIGNING OF THE ETHIOPIAN
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 you 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 that 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 dissention, 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 of 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, without exception.
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 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.
July 16, 1931.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 388 –