Expropriation of private land rights involves two contradictory interests. On one side, there is a
public need for land; on the other side landholders need the provision of tenure security and
protection of their private property rights. Thus, it needs to keep a balance between them. To
create the intended balance, legislation has to authorize the government to expropriate land
rights for clear and limited public purpose under the supervision of an independent body. In this
article the writer will argue that the rural land laws of Ethiopia have defined the public purpose for
expropriation of rural land rights in different manner depending on the nature of the landholders.
For peasants and pastoralists the public purpose requirement is defined vaguely and broadly
leaving its component to be determined by public authority. However, for investors the concept is
limited to the projects implemented by the government. Moreover, the writer argues that the
protection of private property rights and provision of land tenure security of holders is further
undermined due to the legislation failure to authorize the affected people from taking an appeal to
an independent body objecting the fact that the project to which the private rural landholding is
expropriated does not satisfy the public purpose requirement.