The recent visit extended to the President of the Republic of Somaliland His Excellency Dahir Rayaale Kahin and his delegates to represent Somaliland's case to the House of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Britain will indeed mark a historic visit. The citizens of Somaliland, British Somalilanders and Somalilanders living in the Diaspora will honour this historic visit. The International community have turned a blind eye to Somaliland's case for the last 14 years.
The state of Somalia has collapsed since 1991 with no central government. The Republic of Somaliland have reclaimed their sovereignty on 18 May 1991. The so called unlawful and political union between the independent Republic of Somaliland and Somalia ( Italy Somalia) in 1960 to form The Somali State was nullified. According to Jack L. Davies "Lawyers have pointed out that this bilateral precipitous reunification between Somaliland and Southern Somalia was never legally completed. It is therefore legally improper to speak of "secession" today, since reunification was never legally completed. This is like a marriage being "annulled" because it was never consummated, rather than a "divorce" to dissolve a legal marriage".1 This also means that according to the Vienna convention on the law of treaties it fell short as a valid treaty recognizable under the international law.
As a result Somaliland reclaimed her sovereignty rights, its territorial integrity and its separate national identity with its original International defined borders inherited from the United Kingdom of Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
The rebirth of the Sate of Somaliland confirms with the AU charter since Somaliland has reclaimed her independence within the boundaries inherited from the colonial borders of the Ex-British Somaliland. The OAU in its resolution -AHG/REG. 161, provided for a pledge by all member states to respect the boundaries existing on their achievement of national independence. In reality Somaliland was a state within a state.
The state of Somaliland was a British Protectorate under the British rule from 1884 until 26th June 1960 and as a result got its independence on 26th June 1960 from the United Kingdom of Britain and the Republic of Ireland. After gaining independence immediately 35 countries recognised Somaliland including Eygpt who are now opposing the independence of Somaliland.
Somaliland has fulfilled all the legal and political requirements of statehood. According to article 2 of the U.N. charter, Somaliland has fulfilled the legal requirements of statehood. In addition, Somaliland has a constitution, currency, flag, national anthem, a legislative body, functioning judiciary, military army and a democratic elected government.
The recent visit of the UK Select Committee for International Development in Somaliland and the warm welcome extended by the people of SL was a historical and emotional one for all Somalilanders living both in Somaliland and across the globe. It brought to light how the nation of Somaliland have been forgotten for the last 14 years and left on their own to fend for themselves.
Since 1991 The Republic of Somaliland have successfully managed to rebuild their nation from next to nothing with minimum assistance from the International community. They have established peace and the rule of law. Professor, Iqbal Jhazbhay in his remarkable essay "SOMALILAND Africa's best kept secret, A challenge to the international community?"2 describes the success that The Republic of Somaliland have achieved on their own as well as the challenges that the International community needs to address.
Somaliland must continue to build on the success achieved so far to tackle globalisation. We must tackle and address issues related to globalisation from bottom up so that ideas that are generated at grass root level can have immediate impact at the top levels. This will also contribute to the vision that Africa must help itself in order to survive in the 21st century.
For the first time in its entire history Somaliland has established a virtual university and two other universities built with the help of the Diaspora. Not to mention that the private business and economy is also growing. Edna Maternity Hospital a beacon hospital for Africa has also been built which have reduced the mortality rate of Somaliland babies significantly. We need more of this success in order for Somaliland to advance both locally and globally.
Africa has come down to its knees due to poor leadership, shortage of experts, professionals and committed leaders who can lead this continent towards the 21st century. High illiteracy, poverty, lack of awareness and high death due to HIV and aids is a daily problem to the average person living in Africa. It is time Africa finds its own home grown solutions to tackle these dire issues.
For almost half a century Africa has not advanced its education in an age where technology has advanced beyond one's imagnination in the Rich North countries creating a legacy of digital divide apartheid. The average person living in Africa does not have access to the Internet to gain basic education through this humble technology. Especially when the average person is poor and lives on less than a dollar day. One can see the disparity that exists between those rich nations in the north and the poor nations in the South.
Granting developmental aid to the Republic of Somaliland will speed significantly the pace of development in Somaliland. Somaliland have the capacity, the man/woman power, expertise and so on to rebuild their country. Somaliland Forum the official Diaspora organisation has been tirelessly lobbying to the G8 and world leaders to help Somaliland gain recognition so that Somaliland can have direct access to development and reconstruction aid. SL Forum's published report entitled "An Open Letter to the G-8 Leaders"3 outlines how SL can help themselves with a little help from the International community. This also supports the millennium goals to tack le global poverty as well as His Excellency Tony Blair's recent initiative on 'Africa action-plan'.
Somaliland Forum is a beacon organisation with membership from across the globe. It is also the official Diaspora organisation of Somaliland. The members have different backgrounds and expertise whose main objectives are to help Somaliland seek recognition from the International community, develop and advance Somaliland both globally and locally with the aid of the internet.
Somaliland suffers from a lot of obstacles. Since Somaliland declared her independence in 1991 the International community has not only ignored Somaliland's claim to independence but draws no attention between Somaliland and Somalia. This prolonged non-recognition has not changed the mind of the people of Somaliland but only caused more unbearable hardships both physically and mentally on the people of Somaliland.
Bilateral donors have not been very forthcoming to provide assistance to Somaliland, for fear of providing assistance could suggest diplomatic recognition for Somaliland. The non-recognition so far not only blocked the access to bilateral, multi-lateral financial loans and grants for development but is also illegal. These illegal and immoral sanctions have increased Somaliland's infant mortality, malnutrition, tuberculosis and other poverty related social-ills.
The international community has failed to realise that Somaliland's economy remains devastated with infrastructure that collapsed beyond repair. Thousands of refugees have returned to Somaliland on their own with no help for their immediate and future needs. This again has put a great burden on the economy of Somaliland which is scarred by war created by the brutal regime of Siad Barre with history of systematic genocide that has not been addressed to date.
Since 1991 two main players have been competing to form a central government in Somalia unsuccessfully. The first being war lords who committed gross human violations against humanity and are a scar on the conscious of good people extending humanity to this part of Africa. Secondly the Arta Group who are basically a restoration of Siad Barre's Regime who doesn't even control any territory apart from Mogadishu the capital of Somalia.
The International community has discriminated against Somaliland's case and totally diverted their energy to reviving a failed state by pouring millions of aid to peace initiatives that have been going on for the last 14 years. What is ironic about these conferences according to a report entitled 'Aid could be doing more harm than good'4 is that the EU has spent $8 million on the last 14th peace initiative conference and also the number of warlords have increased from three in 1993 to 50 a decade later. Surely the tax payers money of EU citizens could be spent more wisely.
The International Community also fails to realise that once Somaliland is recognised as an Independent State a lot of the problems facing Somalia will be resolved. In order for a nation to exist as a statehood the first thing they must do is to maintain law and order. So far that has not happened in Somalia. The warlords and the TNG of Somalia are so far opposing aggressively to any peace and nation building initiatives that will in the long term build a peaceful statehood in Somalia. These groups have used every trick in the humanity book to stall the peace process as well as covering up their pass genocide under the banner of Somali Unity. Basically, these groups are opportunists and power hungry Siad Barre cronies who represent no one but their self interests.
The international Community has an obligation to respect the historical and the self-determination of the people of Somaliland. Somaliland has fulfilled all the requirements of statehood as well as adhering to internationally accepted norms of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Hence it is incumbent and morally right on the International Community to recognise the Republic of Somaliland as an independent State without any further delay.
1 Reunification of the
Somali People Jack L.Davies.