Contact Us

Chair: Prof. Yonatan T. Fessha
Position: Professor - Department of Public Law and Jurisprudence (Faculty of Law)

Qualifications: PhD (University of the Western Cape), LLM (University of Pretoria, LLB, Faculty of Law, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, Diploma in ‘Federalism, constitutionalism and democratic governance in multicultural societies’, The Institute of Federalism, University of Fribourg, Switzerland


Yonatan T. Fessha is Professor of Law and Research Chair in constitutional design in divided societies at the University of the Western Cape. His teaching and research focus on examining the relevance of constitutional design in dealing with the challenges of divided societies. He has published widely on matters pertaining to, but not limited to, federalism, constitutional design, autonomy, intergovernmental relations and politicised ethnicity. His publications include books on “Intergovernmental relations in divided societies” (Palgrave 2022, co-edited), ‘Courts and federalism in Africa: Design and impact in comparative perspective’ (Routledge 2020, co-edited) and “Ethnic diversity and federalism: Constitution making in South Africa and Ethiopia” (Ashgate 2010). He was a Michigan Grotius Research Scholar and recipient of the Marie-Curie fellowship.

The chair focuses on constitutional design in divided societies, investigating the relevance and effectiveness of constitutional design in the management of divided societies, societies that are grappling with identity-based political tensions and conflicts. The Chair focuses on the priorities set by the Sustainable Development Goals. The imperatives of establishing and maintaining peaceful and inclusive societies has been recognised as a priority area in the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 16 of SDG calls for the promotion of ‘peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development’, the provision of ‘access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.