Treaty of Wuchale

Treaty of Wuchale (or, Treaty of Ucciale; in Italian, Trattato di Uccialli) was a treaty signed by King Menelik II of Shewa, later the Emperor of Ethiopia with Count Pietro Antonelli of Italy in the town of Wuchale, Ethiopia, on 2 May 1889. The treaty ceded territories that had previously been a part of Ethiopia, namely the provinces of Bogos, Hamasien, Akkele Guzay, and Serae and is the origin of the Italian colony and modern state of Eritrea. In return, Italy promised financial assistance and military supplies. The above-mentioned places which were part of ancient Ethiopia have also been reclaimed by Atse Yohannes, King of Kings of Ethiopia in the Hewett Treaty or Treaty of Adwa..

The contents of Article 3 of the treaty which pave ways for the Italians to claim Ethiopian lands are given below *:[1]

Art. 3. To remove any ambiguity about the limits of the territories over which the two Contracting Parties shall exercise the rights of sovereignty, a special committee composed of two Italian delegates and two Ethiopians will trace on the ground with appropriate signs a permanent boundary line whose benchmarks are established as follows:

       a) The line of the plateau will mark the Italian-Ethiopian border;
       b) Starting from the region Arafali, Halai, Saganeiti and Asmara are villages in the Italian border;
       c) Adi Adi Nefas and Joannes will be on the side of Bogos in the Italian border;
       d) From Adi Joannes a straight line extended from east to west will mark the border between Italy and Ethiopia.

Disputes over Article 17 regarding the conduct of foreign affairs led to the First Italo–Ethiopian War. The Italian version stated that Ethiopia was obliged to conduct all foreign affairs through Italian authorities, in effect making Ethiopia an Italian protectorate, while the Amharic version gave Ethiopia considerable autonomy, with the option of communicating with third powers through the Italians.[2] The misunderstanding, according to the Italians, was due to the mistranslation of a verb, which formed a permissive clause in Amharic and a mandatory one in Italian.[3]


  2. Discussions include Chris Prouty, Empress Taytu and Menilek II (Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press, 1986), pp. 70-99; Marcus G. Harold, The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia 1844-1913 (Trenton: The Red Sea Press, 1995), pp. 111–134; and Hatem Elliesie, Amharisch als diplomatische Sprache im Völkervertragsrecht, Aethiopica (International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies), 11, (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008), pp. 235-244.
  3. "Languages of Diplomacy: Towards a Fairer Distribution". The Economist. 2 April 2013.

Further reading

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