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RECOGNITION OF SOMALILAND IS THE ANSWER TO THE SOMALIA PROBLEM

Somaliland

Somaliland is a former British protectorate. It gained independence in 1960 and was thus, recognised as an independent state. Out of the 18 African countries that gained independence in that year, Somaliland was the fourth while Somalia was the seventh; Madagascar and the Congo were fifth and sixth. However, acting on the desire at the time of all 5 Somali regions to live as one state, Somaliland voluntarily joined with Italy’s former Somali colony to form the Somali Republic.
 
The union turned out to be disastrous for Somaliland as our people found themselves marginalized in the new state. In 1969, Siyad Barre overthrew the government of the Somali Republic in a military coup and began a policy of calculated repression of the people of Somaliland. When the Somali National Movement stepped up its armed resistance to Barre’s oppressive regime in Somaliland in the late 1980s, the armed forces of the Somali Republic bombed Somaliland, completely destroying the capital Hargeisa and other main cities, killing an estimated 50,000 people and displacing another 1,000,000. 
 
In 1991, after the fall of the Siyad Barre regime and the total collapse of the Somali Republic, Somaliland re-constituted itself as an independent State. Since then, it has established and sustained peace and stability and held a number of local council, parliamentary and presidential elections. Somaliland therefore, stands in stark contrast to Somalia, which remains a failed state without effective government. Somalilanders are united in their desire to live in an independent state and are strongly opposed to any union with Somalia.
 
Somaliland meets the established criteria for recognition as a state. It has a permanent population, a defined territory and a functioning government. Its achievements have won widespread praise and its case for recognition has been favorably assessed by the African Union Commission, the conflict prevention NGO International Crisis Group as well as the security and development policy think tank The Senlis Council.
 
 Why Somaliland is seeking for International recognition
 
The Republic of Somaliland deserves political recognition as it has demonstrated the characteristics of a modern democratic state; the Somaliland government consists of three branches, the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, this is to ensure the separation of power and promote transparency. Somaliland held numerous free and fair elections both at national and local levels; these were democratically contested by three political parties. Somaliland has a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and free media. Therefore, the people of Somaliland are rightly anticipating a well-deserved recognition from the international community.
In addition to its unmatched democratic success in the Horn of Africa, Somaliland has satisfied all the requirements of statehood because:
 
Firstly, Somaliland believes the union between Somaliland and Somalia 1960 was legally non-binding as it was rejected by the Somaliland people in a referendum held in 1961. 
Secondly, Somaliland fully meets the pre-requisites of statehood under international law as it has internationally recognized borders and all the apparatus of a modern state.
Thirdly, Somaliland satisfies Article 4 of the African Union Charter in terms of the legality of its borders
Fourthly, Somaliland’s case for recognition is similar to many other annulled union agreements around Africa and rest of the world (i.e. Egypt/Syria Senegal/Gambia).
Lastly, Somaliland’s recognition is hindered by political reasons, rather than legal ones.
 
With the above facts and the miraculous achievements of the past 22 years with no external assistance, I believe Somaliland has done enough to justify its deserved membership of the world community. Unfortunately, the world has ignored all of this, denying Somaliland opportunities such as access to international banking and trading with the rest of the world.
 
Somaliland has maintained peace and tranquility for the past 22 years with the very little taxation collected locally, these 22 years saw a population growth of approx. 35%, Somaliland’s national education institutions are producing thousands of young talents who are facing the disappointment of unemployment after graduation, these combined factors can have grave effect on the stability of this young nation and can prove costly not only for Somaliland but for the international community as well.  
 
Somaliland needs true friends that can help in this crucial juncture with serious actions towards attaining recognition and investment. If these two are not addressed promptly by the international community, the country’s youngsters are at risk of becoming a target for extremists and piracy groups. Therefore, it is high time for the leaders of the big powers like UK and US to think wisely and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
 
I believe recognition of Somaliland will subsequently help the Somalis to sort out their differences as they will realize that the waiting game for Somaliland is over and the illusion of any internal void left by Somaliland is dispelled by its recognition.
 
 I would like to conclude this paper that whilst the international community is spending hundreds of millions of dollars with none or very little results in Somalia, Somaliland with all its achievements, gets empty praises that doesn’t help in any way. Many Somalilanders believe their country is the victim of its success.
My simple advice to world leaders is “Recognition of Somaliland is the answer to the Somalia problem” until then, solutions of the Somalia problem will remain as elusive as ever.
 
Amb. Ali A Awale
Head of Somaliland UK mISSION




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