Selassie Bereket Habte

Selassie Bereket Habte was elected as an AAS Fellow in 2016. As a fellow, Selassie Bereket Habte contributes to the development of the Academy’s strategic direction through participation in AAS activities and governance structures. . This gears the Academys vision of transforming african lives through science.

Year elected
Cultural Sciences, Humanities & Social SciencesCultural Sciences, Humanities & Social Sciences

Bereket Habte Selassie is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of African Studies, and Professor of Law at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prof. Selassie was an activist for reform in Eritrea and a supporter of pan-Africanism. Professor Selassie studied Italian language and literature in Perugia but did not receive a degree. He studied for his LL.B. at the University of Hull and received a Ph.D from the University of London. Dr. Selassie subsequently held numerous high-profile positions within Ethiopia, serving as Attorney General, Associate Justice of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court, Vice Minister of Interior, and Mayor of Harar. However, Prof. Selassie resigned from the government in 1964 out of dissatisfaction with Imperial policies. Several years later he left Ethiopia, narrowly escaping capture by the military, to join armed guerrillas fighting for Eritrean independence. After spending time on the battlefield, Dr. Selassie left the war zone to serve as the representative of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front to the United Nations in New York City. After Eritrea gained independence, Selassie served as the constitutional commission chair and was the principal author of Eritrea's constitution. He has also served as senior advisor on constitutional reform in Kenya, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Iraq, among others. Prof. Selassie taught at Howard University and Georgetown University, before joining the faculty of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His work in Eritrea has been well-chronicled through a number of books he has authored, including "The Making of the Eritrean Constitution: The Dialectic of Process and Substance" (2003), "The Crown and The Pen: The Memoirs of a Lawyer Turned Rebel" (2007), and "Wounded Nation: How a Once Promising Eritrea Was Betrayed and Its Future Compromised" (2010).   Among several Eritrean opposition groups, Prof. Selassie is viewed as a force for progressive change, free speech, and an alternative to the government of Isaias Afewerki in Eritrea.