Africa Disregarding Somaliland Case A Scar On UN, AU, International Community
Prestigious international and continental bodies, like United Nations (UN) and African Union(AU) respectively, should have been abiding by and honoring their charters.
What belongs to a Republic cannot be exclusively given to one state of that Republic without the consent of the other Republic. In this case the seat and the membership of the now defunct and non-existent Republic of Somalia should have not been assumed in the UN as well as in the AU by the what used to be the Italian Trusteeship of Somaliland (Amministrazione Fiduciaria Italiana della Somalia–AFIS). These bodies have an obligation to be fair to all parties in dispute of an issue falling under their jurisdictions and also have a responsibility to intervene the challenging parties to facilitate the process of resolving the issue in question.
The Republic of Somalia broke up into her original constituents in 1991. The Italian Somaliland descended into chaos and anarchy and has had no effective central authority since then except only a small section of the capital under the protection and safety provided by AMISON– the African peace mission in Somalia, whereas British Somaliland has built a vibrant economy and functioning constitutional democracy without any minute amount of foreign help to become the Republic of Somaliland. It is not secret that the two former partners had no formal relationship for the last 30 years except few times when outside world was attempting to resolve their case, yet the UN and AU act as if nothing has happened.British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland were two separate entities in the colonial era. In 1887, Britain set up a Protectorate over Somaliland, whereas Italy declared its colony in the central Somalia around 1889. After the Second World War, when Italy was defeated, Great Britain took over the Italian Somaliland up until 1950. Following the formation of United Nations in 1950, Italian Somaliland becomes a UN Trusteeship territory under Italian control.
Looking back on the colonial history that pretty much shapes the political sovereign states in Africa and many other parts of the world, Italy renounced all right and title to the Italian territorial possessions in Africa according to article 23 of the Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Italy signed in Paris on 10 February 1947. At United Nations 250thplenary meeting on 21 November 1949, the territory formerly known as Italian Somaliland became Trust Territory of Somaliland with Italy as the Administering Authority. Article 1 of the Trusteeship Agreement clearly defines the internationally recognized boundaries of the Trusteeship and reads as follows:
“The territory to which this Agreement applies is the territory formerly known as Italian Somaliland; hereinafter called the Territory, bounded by the Somaliland Protectorate, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Its boundaries shall be those fixed by international agreement and, in so far as they are not already delimited, shall be delimited in accordance with a procedure approved by the General Assembly”
General Assembly, 14th session : 846th plenary meeting, on Saturday, 5 December 1959 in New York discussed the territory’s future independence date. Agenda Item 13 details that debate in the meeting.
The United Nations, African Union, and other alliances such as the Arab league and Organization of Islamic Cooperation are cognizant of how the birth of the Federal Republic of Somalia came about on July 1, 1960. British Somaliland gained independence from Britain on Sunday 26 June 1960 and five days later on July 1, 1960, the two former colonies united to create the Republic of Somalia under President Aden Abdullah Osman (Adan Ade), Prime Minister Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, and a 123-member National Assembly representing both territories.
The newly created Republic of Somalia wasted no time in joining the United Nations by invoking Article 4 of the UN Charter with recommendations from Tunisia, Italy, and United Kingdom. Starting from July 1, 1960 and onward, any cable from the leadership of this new federation and any reference to it in UN’s resolutions, meetings, as well as documents without any shred of doubt always label it as the Republic of Somalia, implying explicitly the very nature of its birth.
A cable dated on July 1, 1960 and archived in the Official Digital UN Document Records as S/4360 that was addressed to the president of the Security Council requested the membership of the Republic of Somalia into the United Nations. It clearly said the “Republic of Somalia”.
A Security Council session held in New York, on Tuesday, 5 July 1960, at 3 p.m., was a meeting called to consider the application of the Republic of Somalia at the request of the representatives of Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom and a draft resolution S/4363submitted by Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom was introduced. Ambassador ORTONA of Italy started with this remarks:
“The newly born African Republic is the result of a merger on 1 July 1960, of two Territories: one a former dependency of the United Kingdom – Somaliland- independent since 26 June, and the other a Territory entrusted to Italian administration by the United Nations ten years ago, which attained independence at midnight on 30 June. I am sure that the representative of the United Kingdom will be in a much better position than myself to brief the Council on that one of the two Territories recently merged which has been the direct responsibility of his country. Nevertheless, I wish to pay a tribute to the outstanding accomplishments attained in all fields-political, social and economic-in the former protectorate of Somaliland under the auspices of British leadership. Such progress is self evident and constitutes in itself a tangible asset fer a further favourable development of the new State.I trust that I have succeeded in providing the Council with a picture of the Republic of Somalia – a picture to ‘which the distinguished representative of the United Kingdom will, no doubt, add with his knowledge and eloquence-in order that the Council may be fully aware of the indeed high qualities of this state that recommend it for admission to membership in our Organization” (Read Full Speech)
Then, Ambassador Sir Plerson DIXON of United Kingdom began his remarks on the Republic of Somalia with:
My delegation is happy to share with the delegation of Italy and the delegation of Tunisia the honour of sponsoring the application of the Republic of Somalia for membership in the United Nations. This is an occasion which may well go down to history as unique in the annals of the United Nations. We have on more than one occasion welcomed into the Organization former Trust Territories. We have many times welcomed States which have graduated from dependence to independence. But today we are concerned with the uniting of Somaliland, a former British Protectorate- which itself celebrated its independence on 26 June – and Somalia, which has been administered by Italy as a Trust Territory and reached independence on 1 July. On that same day, 1 July, the two independent States of Somaliland and of Somalia freely entered into a solemn partnership: the Republic of Somalia. There seems to me to be ample cause here for satisfaction. The two constituent parts of the Republic of Somalia have our warmest congratulations on the way in which they have advanced to independence. As the representative of one of the two administering Powers concerned, I can speak with very genuine feeling when I say how gratified we are that this important development has taken place in an atmosphere of mutual interest and good will between the administering and the administered, founded in a common aim: independence. The decision of these two independent nations to fuse their identity into one is also a matter in which their leaders and people can be assured of our best wishes for success. It is, of course, an arrangement which affects Somaliland and Somalia only, and we are confident that the new State will retain the most friendly relations with all its neighbours. Her Majesty’s Government recognized the new State on 1 July and Her Majesty was represented at the ceremonies of independence by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. John Profumo, who presented his credentials to President Aden Abdullah Osman that afternoon.
We are dealing today with the application for membership of the Republic of Somalia, but I hope that it will be thought appropriate if I speak particularly of that part of the Republic with which we in the United Kingdom have had long and friendly connexions and which is less familiar to the United Nations than the former Trust Territory. It would, I think, be appropriate to mention here that Somaliland already has first-hand experience of some aspects of the work of the United Nations, since the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund have helped in making surveys there in connexion with particular diseases. We very much appreciate this assistance. It may be useful to the Council if I briefly describe the course of recent steps which led to the attainment of nationhood last week. Executive and Legislative Councils were established in the Protectorate in 1955 and first met in May 1957. The first elections were held in March 1959.( Read Full speech)
Ambassador Slim of Tunisia also said:
The Security Council today has before it the application of the young Republic of Somalia for admission to membership in the United Nations. Formed on 1 July 1960 through the union of the former British Protectorate of Somaliland, which recently became independent, and the former Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian administration, the young Republic of Somalia has entered into international life with all the attributes of a fully independent and sovereign State.
On Tuesday September 20, 1960, the Republic of Somalia was officially admitted into the UN with a Resolution A/L.298, becoming a member of the world family.
Article 4(b) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union says:
The Union shall function in accordance with the following principles:
respect of borders existing on achievement of independence
Although this statement is enshrined in the Charter of African Union, the attitude and inaction of the organization towards the Somaliland case portrays a different picture of hypocrisy at a time when its own fact-finding mission conducted between 30 April to 4 may 2005recommended that the African Union should “find a special method for dealing with Somaliland” and confirmed that Somaliland’s status was “not linked to the notion of opening a Pandora’s Box” in Africa. Excerpt of that Report:
“The fact that the “union between Somaliland and Somalia was never ratified” and also malfunctioned when it went into action from 1960 to 1990, makes Somaliland’s search for recognition historically unique and self-justified in African political history. Objectively viewed, the case should not be linked to the notion of “opening a Pandora’s box”. As such, the AU should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case.”
Many federations and unions were explored in the twenty first century with the core values of either nationalism, regionalism, or idealism to name few but some of those mergers failed to serve well for the intended expectations and got ended up dissolved in peaceful way such as the Czechoslovakia state created in the aftermath of World War I into Czech and Slovakia Republics even though no popular majority was supporting independence in neither country.Strange enough, the Somaliland statehood with its compelling case continues to be scrutinized and treated differently for no obvious reasons.
Given these historical facts with the supporting documents in the possession of the UN and AU, a disputed membership such as that of the Republic of Somalia should have not been assumed alone by the Italian Trusteeship Territory.
Somaliland Republic has been patient for so long in this regard and explored many other venues to get her case heard, settled and resolved, and now there are no other alternatives in sight except the obligations that are incumbent upon the UN and the AU either to conduct a jointly supervised Referendum on Reclaiming Somaliland Sovereignty, or to set up an International Tribunal as mandated and permitted by their charters for this kind of dispute for the purpose of making final decision on the case in question or else the nation of Somaliland has no other choice but to resort to the International Court of Justice for resolving its case.
Links for UN documents:
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