History of a State forgot: the recognition of Somaliland

Fig. 2 - A city of Hargeisa in front of a plane used during the bombing of the city during the civil war and turned into monument photo by GETTY IMAGE

At 26 dall’unilaterale declaration of independence from the government in Mogadishu, Somaliland still does not receive the recognition as a state by the international community, to the detriment of its considerable political and economic successes

TWENTY-SIX YEARS OF INDEPENDENCEThe recent history of Somalia is, as noted, a troubled history . The fall in 1991 of the dictatorial regime led by Siad Barre fact start a civil war that still has not found a peaceful solution and has transformed the state in the Horn of Africa into a failed state in all respects. However, with the collapse of the Somali state, during 1991 it happened another event much less known, but no less significant: the unilateral declaration of independence by Somaliland, the northern province of modern Somalia. On May 18, it celebrated the twenty-sixth anniversary of this statement, while the government of Somaliland continues to require the formal recognition of what is an independence de facto , but not de jure , and that according to somalilanders would be the simple acknowledgment of order a voluntary union between different Member States.

Fig. 1 – A soldier of the Republic of Somaliland

NEVER REALLY STATESThe stories of Somaliland and Somalia have in fact little in common. During the colonial era, the British Protectorate of Somaliland with Somalia bordering occupied by the Italians, a separation lasted until the early ’60s. Somaliland would also have in fact already had one, albeit brief, experience as an independent and sovereign state, in the five days that elapsed between the withdrawal of the British protectorate on June 26, 1960, and the voluntary union with the former Italian Somalia to form , July 1, 1960, the Federal Republic of Somalia. Just on the old British protectorate of Somaliland borders the current draws the two current borders. The two different colonial experiences provoked internal fractures: the southern region inherited the ‘ bloated bureaucratic structure of the state imposed by the Italian school system along with a widespread but low level, while in the north the state organization respected the pre-existing social structures and many schools were but less able to introduce English in the university system a good number of Somali citizens . In this different training also he added the decision by the Government of Mogadishu, to assign to the inhabitants of Somaliland mostly technical positions, while southern Somalis claimed for themselves the policies, fueling the belief that the agreement svantaggiasse former British colony, which would have preferred a solution of more federalist mold . The social situation, finally, further away Somaliland from the rest of the country: while in the southern part, there were numerous clans and notable tribal groups influence in Somaliland about 70% of the population belonged to one clan, an element in the Somali politics guaranteed a level of much higher cohesion .

Fig. 2 – A city of Hargeisa in front of a plane used during the bombing of the city during the civil war and turned into monument

THE SUCCESS OF SOMALILAND – Compared to the disastrous situation in Somalia, Somaliland has managed to take decisive steps forward . Besides having been rebuilt after the civil war , the country has managed to maintain social stability and unusual policy for many African countries, electing their president through democratic elections deemed generally free and fair, ensuring peaceful transitions even when the outgoing candidate’s defeat while the constitution guarantees the protection of the main personal freedoms, including that of expression. In a relatively short period of time the state has created 30 universities in the country and over a thousand primary schools ; Also in Somaliland it is also Abaarso School of Science and Technology , a school of excellence that has allowed more than 60 students of Somaliland to continue their studies in the most prestigious American universities . Despite various difficulties, the ‘ economy of Somaliland has allowed the creation of a business network firm that combines several members of the Somali diaspora, thanks to a very young population (70% of the population is under 30 years) and to the spread efficient internet and mobile phone . So while in Somalia reappeared the specter of piracy in Somaliland the problem has been effectively contained thanks to the existence of a functioning coast guard and the best economic prospects for young people. Somaliland finally behaves as a state even under normal diplomatic practice, such as the telephone calls of the President to congratulate the winner of the elections in France or to express his condolences following the terrorist attacks like that of London .

Fig. 3 – A market Hargeisa, Somaliland

The A POSITION OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY – In spite of all this, the recognition from Somaliland remained completely unanswered by the international community and to date, no country in the world has officially recognized Somaliland as an independent state and only three states (Ethiopia , Egypt and Turkey) maintain a diplomatic delegation to Hargeisa, the Somaliland capital. The reasons behind this ostracism are of a different nature . First, the African Union itself, which usually the rest of the world refers to the territorial issues in Africa, has been historically reluctant to recognize the demands separatist in a continent where borders are often accused of being arbitrary and does not reflect the reality of the people who live there. Only two cases, the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993 and South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, have been recognized as legitimate, while the majority of borders remains identical to that of the colonial era . In this fundamental reticence are added concerns over the situation in Somalia in particular. Among neighboring Somalia there is a strong fear that in a society such as Somalia, where the Egami arising from tribal affiliations and clan are extremely strong, recognize the independence of a region can give off a domino effect that would lead to similar requests from other regions such as Puntland or Jubbaland. This balkanization process Somali version would give another huge blow to the already weak central government in Mogadishu, thus making useless all the efforts made so far to stabilize the country. Internationally there are also States, such as China or Spain, for reasons related to their domestic politics rarely support the independence movements, making it even more difficult for Somaliland to get recognition.

Fig. 4 – Recep Erdogan meets President of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud Silanyo, October 2, 2013

PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE?  The lack of recognition of Somaliland leads to more serious problems than just legal recognition; not being considered as a state, Somaliland is not directly involved in international aid programs , and is forced to depend on the intermediation of the Mogadishu government, leading to delays and deficiencies in contexts such as the recent drought can have disastrous effects for a ‘economy is still based largely on herding . In addition recognition would allow the country closer integration in international organizations, with consequent benefits both from an economic point of view than from that of security , allowing a more effective counter piracy is that the terrorist threat posed by al-Shaabab. For Hargeisa is hoped that the recent election of Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmaajo” as President of Somalia soften the intransigence of Mogadishu and you can finally make some real progress in steps along the way to recognition by at least part of Somalia, which continues to today to consider Somaliland as a province in its own right.

Andrea Rocco


A grain more

Our country, precisely because the colonial experience, has always been very involved in the affairs of the Horn of Africa, as recognized by the states of the region, the laws of which largely rely on those inherited from Italian colonial administrations. Italy is also one of the few states to host a diplomatic delegation from Somaliland, in Turin.



Leave a Reply