According to dominant paradigms of international relations theories, a country’s foreign policy consists of the self-interested strategies chosen by the state to protect its national interests, and the deployment of the various tools of diplomacy and statecraft in order to achieve these objectives within the international relations milieu.
Since Somaliland re-asserted its independence on 18 May 1991, its main foreign policy objective has been the attainment of international recognition. Somaliland has made tremendous strides toward this end by building a functional state with all the legal attributes of a modern state. Notwithstanding the enormous challenges Somaliland has faced under the status of being diplomatically unrecognised for the last 27 years, the state apparatus has continued to evolve internally and externally. Somaliland has conducted foreign relations with the international community in its various shapes and forms, and has continued to welcome the international community cooperate on issues such as development, investment, social reform and consular relations inside Somaliland. In the modern international order, the recognition of statehood is administered by a number of different legal, political and economic factors that include (a) a permanent population, (b) a defined territory, (c) a functioning government, and (d) the capacity to enter into populations with other states. Somaliland has a strong case for satisfying all of these conditions.
It is worth acknowledging that successive Somaliland administrations have done an impressive job with respect to Somaliland’s international relations, given the many international and domestic constraints it faces. Nevertheless, observers of Somaliland’s foreign policy over the past 27 years have seen it as a more reactionary and self-explanatory approach (mere differentiation from Somalia), rather than entirely pragmatic.
It is the theme of this paper to examine Somaliland’s foreign policy goals and decision-making as they evolved under the leadership of Somaliland’s previous four presidents. Doing so involves presenting how these respective administrations dealt with Somaliland’s neighbouring states as well as regional and other global organisations. This paper will also focus on the present foreign policy challenges. It will conclude by offering recommendations with respect to current foreign policy arrangements.