Development is a holistic concept and its sustainability involves interdependent economic, social and environmental components in the context of institutional capabilities and good governance which ought to be integrated with a view to addressing the needs and aspirations of existing and future generations.  Such development goes far beyond economic and physical growth and it envisages socially just, environmentally sustainable, and economically holistic progress that puts in place human development, wellbeing, equity and quality of life as its focal points.

The discourse regarding the role of law and institutions in development has undergone a long route, and the current variation of views among academics, researchers and policy makers relates to perspectives rather than denial of their relevance.  Aside from issues such as magnitude and causal links, none of these perspectives deny the significance of laws and policies, as elements of the institutional dimension in sustainable development at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels.

Laws and their enforcement are among the elements of a country’s institutional virtues (or downsides) which positively (or negatively) impact upon sustainable development.  This is because laws are institutional tools in the articulation and implementation of viable economic, social and environmental policies.  In this regard, laws can serve as tools of implementation, monitoring and proactive changes with a view to striking the most appropriate and viable balance in social justice, economic development and environmental sustainability.

To this end, laws and policies at national, regional and global levels are required to provide a balance between conflicting or overlapping social, environmental and economic entitlements and responsibilities.  It is in due recognition of the need for the integration of these pillars of sustainable development that Articles 43, 44, 89 to 92 ofthe Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia articulate the economic, environmental and socio-cultural objectives embodied there-in.

As stated in the vision and mission statements of St. Mary’s University, the education, training, research and community services of the University College ultimately target at Ethiopia’s development thereby rendering it conducive to establish research centers that can positively contribute towards the attainment of SMUC’s vision and mission.  It is in the context of this normative and institutional background that the Faculty Council of the SMU Law Faculty unanimously decided to establish the Center for Law in Sustainable Development (CLiSD) in August 2010. The Center will have a working relationship with SMU’s School of Graduate Studies, and ultimately, the Center is expected to be an independent entity under St. Mary’s University.

Objectives of CLiSD

  1. The Center for Law in Sustainable Development (CLiSD) mainly aims at research and publications that positively contribute towards the realization of the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development in the context of institutional capabilities and good governance.
  2. Its areas of thematic focus include laws and policies related to:
    1. social and global justice;
    2. economic development;
    3. environmental sustainability;
    4. corporate social responsibility;
    5. institutional capabilities and good governance.
  3. In the furtherance of its objectives,  CLiSD shall:
    1. sustain the publication of  Mizan Law Review <>, a reputed journal that is being published without interruption twice a year since June 2007;
    2. conduct and encourage research;
    3. facilitate the publication of books on the role of law in sustainable development by undertaking the tasks of  editing, external review (where necessary), page-setting and publishing under Mizan Publications;
    4. publish and disseminate research outputs and findings; and
    5. perform other tasks entrusted to it by SMU Senate.

Significance and impact

The specific significance and impact of CLiSD is the enhancement of awareness on the interdependence between laws, institutions, governance and sustainable development. It focuses on research and publications on comparative analysis and application of laws that are related with the economic, social, environmental and the institutional aspects of sustainable development that will positively contribute towards social wellbeing.  CLiSD’s contribution will be significant to the legal profession, the academia, researchers, various institutions, policy makers and the wider public.