The Greater Horn region of sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most volatile conflict zones in the world. Somalia in particular “claims the unenviable distinction of being the state most at risk of failure. “Unbeknownst and unrecognized by most of the world, however, is that in northern Somalia there exists a breakaway republic known as Somaliland which, since 1991, has worked to establish itself as an independent, moderate Muslim democracy. The purpose of this paper is to recommend that the government of Canada recognize Somaliland’s sovereignty, first by taking an active role in facilitating Somaliland’s current voter registration campaign, then by establishing a consulate within the country, and finally by calling on the international community to officially recognize Somaliland’s independence as well.
The Somali people were colonized by three separate powers: France colonized present-day Djibouti, the north of Somalia was colonized by Britain, and south Somalia was Italian territory. After India’s independence in 1947 the strategic importance of Somaliland dissipated, and Britain’s attitude towards its protectorate became one primarily of neglect. As economic progress and development stagnated, cries within Somaliland for self-government and union with the neighbouring Italian protectorate grew. Britain was happy to relinquish the financial burden of the colony and granted Somaliland independence on June 26th, 1960. Multilaterally acknowledged independence, recognized by both the United Nations and Canada, lasted five days before Somaliland voluntarily united with the former Italian-administered UN trust territory of Somalia to create the present-day Republic of Somalia. Mechanics
Somaliland’s enthusiasm for the union quickly waned. In their haste to reap the benefits of a united Somalia, leaders on both sides had given little thought as to the technicalities of amalgamation. As colonies, they had “two different judicial systems; different currencies; different organization… for the army, the police and the civil service; different taxation and customs; different governmental institutions and different educational systems. They brought with them four different legal traditions: Italian law, British common law, Islamic sharia, and traditional Somali law. A North-South divide was immediately apparent. Unification and democratization efforts were additionally undermined by the geographic distance between north and south which not only hampered political representation and communication, but also significantly reduced projected industrial and economic gains. Finally, Somalia fell prey to the all too common cause of political tension in postcolonial African states: the implementation of Western-style administrations and the appropriation of Western class systems and competitive values. In Somalia this resulted in increasingly competitive clan-based political parties, who saw political power as a means of controlling state resources and establishing themselves firmly in the upper class. Less than a decade after the union, General Mohamed Siad Barre overthrew the “highly dysfunctional” government of Somalia in the military coup of 1969. So began the autocratic military rule and human rights violations that have characterized Somalia since independence
The British Somaliland Protectorate became independent on 26 June 19602 and was the first Somali country to become a member of the UN. Shortly thereafter Somaliland and the former Somalia Italian united to form the Somali Republic. However, the initially hopeful union ended with tragedy culminating in a brutal ten-year civil war lasting until 1991.Gradually order was restored; refuges started to return and Somaliland embarked on the long process of rebuilding. In 2001 voters opted in “a free and fair election for a new constitution that boldly proclaimed the case for independence”. Meanwhile, “successful, internationally monitored elections” followed to establish Somaliland’s administration. Somaliland continues to emphasise its commitment to peace and stability and “the unreserved the respect for unity, and territorial integrity of states, standing neither for cessation, nor for the revision, of Africa’s borders. “Despite the lack of rule and troubled fate of Somalia, Somaliland has accomplished extraordinary achievements in a wider environment beset with instability and poverty. Since 1991 it has carefully started to build and strengthen civil society and put in place structures to govern the territory of the former British protectorate. Somaliland has accomplished to largely put an end to violence and has established a stable society based on the rule of law, by one commentator labelled “a bulwark against extremist international anarchy and terrorism.” However, the lack of international recognition continues to present hurdles; seriously hindering economic development, discouraging the burgeoning private sector and eroding public trust in the country’s future. Some observers fear this may bring about a political downturn resulting in social anarchy and lawlessness. On the basis of not being dragged into war and instability with the spill-over effects of regional insecurity, Somaliland has called for international recognition to secure the goals of peace, stability and good governance and further develop existing pillars of stability and democracy.
Twenty two years after Somaliland declared its independence; it has yet to be formally recognised by any country. This has meant that Somaliland cannot sign agreements with multilateral donors such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, and has furthermore prevented meaningful bilateral development assistance from other governments, including substantive loans to rehabilitate a rundown infrastructure, but the hope of Somaliland people will never die.
God Bless Somaliland
By:Abdirahman Ismail( Buuni)