The United States must remove obstacles to Somaliland Recognition
From: Somaliland American Guild
To: The Honorable Speaker Kevin McCarthy;
To: The Honorable Senator James E. Risch, Idaho.
Somaliland American Guild implores the United States to end the cautious approach it has taken and directly recognize the Republic of Somaliland. South Africa’s Department of Foreign Affairs, In a legal opinion, asserted in 2003 that “Somaliland does indeed qualify for Statehood and that it is incumbent for the international community to recognize it”. The African Union fact-finding mission to Somaliland in 2005, also stated, Somaliland’s case is a unique one, which should be judged “from an objective historical viewpoint” and the notion of “opening a Pandora’s Box” simply does not apply to Somaliland. Moreover, in 2006, International Crisis Group report stressed that Somaliland be given an AU observer “interim status analogous to the observer status it has granted 31 non-African states or the status of the Palestinian Authority at the UN”.
Somaliland meets all criteria required for statehood and has legal validity to reclaim her independence under international law. Somaliland had recognized borders in June 1960. These facts are not in question, therefore why is the longest and most powerful Democracy ignoring the achievements of this developing democracy in a region that needs stability? We urge the United States to avail itself and finesse the African Union to expedite the process.
The objectives of the AU, as stated in Article 3(b), is to “Defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence” of African nations. Somaliland won independence before any of the original ethnic Somali territories of Eastern Ethiopia, Northeast Kenya, ex-French Somaliland Djibouti and ex-Italian Trusteeship Somalia. In 1960, Somaliland was recognized by 35 Nations (including 5 Permanent Members) as an independent country which demonstrates her independence pre and post colonization. Given this fact, Somaliland cannot be treated as if it were an integral part of Italian Somalia. The Act of Union in 1960 – which was intended to balance the union – was never officially completed due to Somaliland’s dash for a greater Somali Republic. History shows it was a tragic mistake.
The Act of Union was itself subverted from the beginning as it was (a) changed more than few times without Somaliland Assembly participation primarily due to Italian tampering, (b) the Somalia Assembly annulled the Union of Somaliland and Somalia Law and passed their own version of the Act of Union in 1961 and (c) when the former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre seized power in a coup d’etat in 1969 and willingly eliminated the Act altogether. The international community is left with little choice but to right the previous wrongs and accept these intrinsic circumstances and support Somaliland.
Additionally if one isn’t convinced of these irrefutable facts, Somaliland has the Remedial Right, again under international law, to exit or regain her independence when genocide was committed against her people. The mass murder of over 50,000 Somalilanders, the exodus of a million people to desolate camps and the aerial bombardment of its cities gave the people the right to vote overwhelmingly to rescind the failed union. The AU nor the international community dispute these facts so why ignore the people of Somaliland and essentially scapegoat them for a failed Union?
Furthermore, Yugoslavia, for instance, split into six Independent nations which were immediately welcomed to the United Nations. Czechoslovakia, recognized in 1945, split in 1992 into Czech Republic and Slovak Republic respectively. Egypt and Syria each an independent nation, established a union in 1958 but split just after 3 years. Norway left Sweden (1905), Ireland left the United Kingdom (1921) and Eritrea left Ethiopia (1993). Lastly, Gambia and Senegal formed a union for just 6 months before it came to an end. Why, therefore should Somaliland be held to a different standard? The AU acknowledged that it never addressed the grievances of Somaliland before. What better time than now?
Since 1991, Somaliland has satisfied all criteria the international community considered legitimate. Schools and hospitals have been rebuilt and the country has a working Constitution. 5 Presidents have been elected with international observers monitoring the elections. Democratically elected Parliament was seated last year and is one of many. The Judiciary and Press function freely. Although more needs to be done. It has not allowed terrorists to operate in Somaliland. If Somaliland could accomplished all this without much assistance from other nations and organizations, imagine if it had support.
The international community must engage the Horn of Africa and emerging democracies so the continent could heal from a century of chaos and despair. It is to the mutual benefit of the Horn, democratic nations, as well as Africa, to finally recognize Somaliland. The Republic of Somaliland’s aim is to advance its nation, contribute to the prosperity of the continent and promote democracy and help uplift the people of Africa through equal and fair representation for all.
Mohammed A. Ali Baranbaro
Somaliland American Guild