The purpose of this qualitative case study with the exploratory design was to explore the barriers, as perceived by Ethiopia’s national elders and women ambassadors of peace, that may impede the incorporation of Indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms (ICRMs) within the federal criminal justice system of the country to spur social change and to provide a clear policy orientation for this incorporation to take place. The servant leadership model and an ubuntu-based leadership approach provided the theoretical framework. A sample group of 20 elders who represent a number of ethnic groups at the national level participated in one-on-one interviews, and 15 women ambassadors of peace and another 14 regional and local elders took part in four separate focus discussion groups. All the national elders reported systemic corruption in the federal courts. According to study informants, another obstacle to incorporating ICRMs within the federal criminal justice system comes from the teachings of western-oriented Christianity and education in Ethiopia, which disparage traditional Ethiopian cultural practices. These teachings undermine the legitimacy and authority of the elders who, for centuries, have employed ICRMs to ensure restorative justice and to avert, manage, and resolve problems at the local level. Nowadays, national elders are unofficially invited by government officials to participate in conflict resolution in recognition of the pivotal role that these elders and their institutions play in advancing national peace and stability. Therefore, this study recommends official recognition of these traditional justice practices by means of national policy changes grounded in wise elders and women ambassadors of peace leadership development in Africa (WEWLDA), incorporating servant leadership with ubuntu-based conflict resolution.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Servant leadership--Ethiopia; Restorative justice; Conflict management--Ethiopia; Ubuntu (Philosophy)--Leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

H. Eric Schockman