SOMALILAND  RECOGNITION

 


Imam. Abdi Halim M. Musa

 

“Any attempt to coerce Somaliland back to the Somali fold would entail a bitter and probably futile conflict” ICG warned.

 

“The UN and the African Union, on the other hand, were urged to "adopt a more open-minded approach to the question of Somaliland's ultimate status,"

The international community  should take Somaliland's demands under formal consideration, including a legal review of the territory's case vis-à-vis the current AU charter and grant Somaliland observer status pending a final decision on its international status” ICG urged.

 

“The Bush and Blair administrations should come together and immediately recognize Somaliland to reward them for pursuing a constructive path toward free market democracy. If we do so, I would bet that, within a year, most other nations will have followed our lead. “ Washington Post by Richard W. Rahn  a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute

 

“my belief is that we should stop waiting as we have done for about 14 years for the Somalis to come together and love each other. This is not going to happen. We should build on the one source of strength in the area – Somaliland. Recognition may not be the risky step that it seems to be. I believe that if we were to give a lead, many other countries would quickly fall into line. There can be no doubt that we would have to give that lead.” Tony Worthington MP Britain

 

“The Somalis  in the south had completely destroyed Hargeysa – every house and hospital had been destroyed by MiGs, Tanks and other equipment. How on earth one can expect there to be a reunion of those peoples is beyond credibility.

We saw mass graves, in which thousands of Somalilanders had been murdered in cold blood with their hands and their feet tied together. Bodies were piled up and crammed into ditches, and bones were scattered all over the area—we could still see them.” Tony Baldry MP Britain

 

The fourteen old patience of Somaliland people in these trying times for diplomatic recognition proves the perseverance and resilience of that nation and its commitment to independent, sovereign state. Somaliland suffered, before, from a two-decade long humiliation, dereliction, injustice, and repression (1960-1980) and a decade long merciless campaign of atrocities and destruction (1981-1991) through indiscriminate heavy bombardment on civilians, cities (Hargeisa and Burao) towns, and rural areas by warplanes, tanks and artillery.  It was motivated by both tribal hatred and desire for land expansion and devised to ethnic cleanse an entire people, either by massacring or expelling in order to resettle refugees from Ethiopian-ruled Western Somali Province and others in their motherland. The insane campaign, which violated Islamic righteousness, conscience, and morality, was mounted from Mogadisho by Siyad`s divisive, brutal regime.

The valiant armed struggle of SNM (1981-1991), supported by its courageous people, rescued Somaliland and its people from the well plotted statelessness in January 1991. This liberation facilitated the victorious national reconciliation, the immediate withdrawal from the disastrous union with Somalia, and the reclamation of Somaliland sovereignty in the Pan-Somaliland Conference held in Burao, capital of Togdheer region, in May 1991. Subsequently, law and order were restored, clan militias were disarmed, and democratic institutions were established. The joint efforts of Somaliland police and army made Somaliland a peaceful, stable country since its proclamation, and protect it from international terrorism, drug trafficking and smuggling. The army is also ready to defend the country from external aggressions. As a result, the country is now the most peaceful country in the Horn of Africa, and one of the most peaceful in all of Africa; there is low
inflation, a growing economy and a balanced budget.

 

The United Nations, which has the authority of international legitimacy, is still withholding the legitimate recognition of Somaliland unjustifiably for the last 14 years. Somaliland has fulfilled the fundamental condition for diplomatic recognition: An existing independent nation with its own colonial-drawn borders- a legal basis for diplomatic recognition. Somaliland fulfils the criteria of statehood according to Article 1 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of State: Somaliland has a permanent population; a defined territory (the former British Somaliland) with clear international boundaries of which it has an effective control; a democratic government, and a capacity to enter into relations with other states.  Somaliland fulfils the criteria for recognizing new states, according to the guidelines set out by the European Union (EU) in 1992, even though they only apply to European nations. Article 4 of African Union charter asserts that the organization respects and recognizes independence of African countries based on colonial borders. The diplomatic recognition of all the 54 current African states is based on these colonial borders. Provisions on sovereignty in the charters of the UN and Arab League also support and recognize independence based on colonial borders. Somaliland is not a breakaway or a separatist country. The UN, the African Union, and the Arab League know undisputedly that Somaliland achieved independence before Somalia on June 26, 1960 within its colonial borders, and was one of the 17 African countries that obtained independence in 1960 from Europe. However, it had unratified merger with Somalia for 30 years (July 1960- January 1991) but withdrew from that union due to the above mentioned atrocities and destruction. In that year of independence, 1960, and before the merger, 35 countries recognized Somaliland diplomatically including Egypt, Israel and the five Permanent Members of the Security Council. Why not now? What is the difference between then and Now? Somaliland is not the first country that withdrew from a union. Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia withdrew from the Soviet Union collapse in 1989, Bosnia and Macedonia withdrew from the Federation of disintegrated Yugoslavia in 1990s and East Timor from Indonesia 20 Feb 2002. All these new countries were automatically recognized by the United Nations. Somaliland is not exception as it fulfilled the same criteria. We are by no means the first African State to have entered into a voluntary union with another state and subsequently withdrawn from that union intact. Egypt and Syria, Senegal and Gambia, and Senegal and Mali have all done likewise. Nor is Somaliland the first African colonial entity to have asserted its separation and independence from another; Eritrea and the Sahrawi Republic are today both full members of the African Union.

The Somalilanders, almost unanimously, ask what more they can do when the international community continues to recognize Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other anarchic, violent places as sovereign units. It is time to give them an answer.

Besides the withdrawal decision of May 1991, the landmark referendum held in Somaliland on May 31, 2001, overwhelmingly approved Somaliland constitution and reaffirmed, in the presence of international election monitors, the will of the Somaliland people to have independent, sovereign state of their own. Neither the UN nor the regional organizations (African Union and Arab League) have the right to nullify the decision of Somaliland people in that referendum.

 In May 2001, an overwhelming majority of Somalilanders re-affirmed their support for their sovereignty in a Constitution entrenched in the Charters of the African Union and the United Nations. In December 2002, we held our First Local Government elections. Five months later in April 2003 we followed it by our very first Presidential elections where three political parties, peacefully contested the seat of the President of Somaliland and the simple majority won by our President H.E Dahir Rayale kahin.

The neglect of Somaliland by the international community exposes its shocking double standard that on one hand advocates for peace, stability, and democratic institutions, and, on the other hand, ignores peaceful, stable, democratic Somaliland by denying it of diplomatic recognition. This denial has no legal basis in the court of international law. The delay is just a mere hope by the UN and regional organizations that Somaliland may return to the union with Somalia one day. This political gambling at the expense of Somaliland people for 14 years is irresponsible. It is also perpetuation of lawlessness, despair, famine, and violent, factional fighting in Somalia. This unfounded hope will not affect the iron will of Somaliland people toward self-determination but will consolidate their unchanging stance to have independent, sovereign state from the injustice and killing machine of Somalia. Somaliland government will not attend any peace talks held for Somalia because that would undermine its sovereignty and damage its legitimacy for recognition.

The government of Somaliland rejected publicly the pressure from UN, African Union, Arab League, and IGAD, and showed the impracticality of what is called “Federalism”. When the UN, African Union, and the Arab League push Somaliland to reunify with Somalia again, can they guarantee for Somaliland people that a ruthless Southern military or civilian dictator will not emerge in Federal Somalia again, dissolving any federal constitution, parliament, and government immediately, and inflicting the same atrocities and destruction upon Somaliland again?

The answer is simply NO. Then, they should stop that push , recognize Somaliland, and let the two peoples live in peace separately. Somalia itself has no delusion that Somaliland has international legitimacy for recognition for achieving independence before it in 1960.

There is no doubt that Somalia would be peaceful and stable country today led by its own government if Somaliland were recognized long time ago. This would happen for two reasons. First, the people of Somalia would not waste any more time on waiting for Somaliland. Secondly, they would emulate jealously with Somaliland. Now, neither Somaliland is recognized nor Somalia has peace, both peoples are punished equally in the hands of UN. The current UN policy of keeping both countries at bay is not working any more. The sooner Somaliland is recognized the better chance to restore peace, law, and order in Somalia.

There is no question that Somaliland will be recognized diplomatically, soon or later, for having full legitimacy and the statehood of Somaliland will be real. The patience and resilience will pay soon.. Opposing Somaliland sovereignty is treason but opposing an incumbent rule or administration advocating better political reforms is a progressive democratic view and must be respected by all.

The administration, governance, and defense of Somaliland solely belong to Somaliland people. God`s willing, Somaliland will hail soon its diplomatic recognition and will consolidate its statehood.

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