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Let Somaliland Be An Independent Country, Int'l Think Tanks Say
Two influential international think tanks are recommending independence and diplomatic recognition of Somaliland "sooner rather than later". In its latest report, the Senlis Council underlines the need for quick and official recognition of Somaliland. This is echoed by the International Crisis Group, which also supports international recognition of Somaliland's right to statehood.
By Jason Cooper
Located in northern Africa, Somaliland has been 'de facto' independent since 1991 ... almost as long as Europe's Transdniestria
HARGEISA, April 24, 2008 – The Republic of Somaliland needs to be officially recognized as an independent country says a prominent global think-tank in its latest report on security and development. The Senlis Council, which was established in 2002 as a European-based organization, reveals its policy recommendations in a report entitled Chronic Failures of the War on Terror: From Afghanistan to Somalia which was published in London on Wednesday.
In its report, the think-tank emphasizes the need for official recognition of Somaliland.
" - Official recognition for Somaliland would send a clear message to all Somalis that peaceful transitions from stability are possible without the need to use overpowering military force, and will be rewarded," said Norine MacDonald, a Canadian lawyer who is president and lead field researcher of The Senlis Council.
" - Up to now, Somaliland has toiled in relative anonymity without any recognition of its extraordinary success in creating the conditions for a viable, stand-alone state, and resisting the spread of extremism found in Somalia."
The Senlis Council is an international policy think-tank with offices in Brussels, Kabul, Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, London, Ottawa, Paris and Rio de Janeiro. It works in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), as co-organizer of an international conference held in February with the attendance of General David J. Richards, until last year the overall commander of NATO-ISAF.
ICG recommends independence
The International Crisis Group also recommends independence as the best way to build a future for the people of Somaliland. The ICG advocates that the African Union leads the way on international recognition of Somaliland's right to statehood.
In a special report, the research and advocacy group makes a clear political and legal case for recognition. ICG's research suggests that an independent Somaliland would add to regional stability, rather than representing a further cause of instability in the Horn of Africa. The International Crisis Group argues that Somaliland's case is unique, and would not - as some AU members fear - set a precedent for African secessionist movement.
The current internationally recognized state of Somalia is a state in name only. Aside from the briefest of intervals, the last 17 years has been characterized by varying degrees of chaos.
In Somalia, elections have not been held since 1969. Whereas in Somaliland, the 2005 Parliamentary elections were regarded as free and fair, and a test of independence.
But if Somalia is a state in name only, Somaliland is a state-in-waiting without formal recognition.
Of all of the states in the Horn of Africa, it is the self-declared yet internationally unrecognized aspirant state of Somaliland that offers President Bush with his most viable opportunity to claim an African success story. By all rational indicators of a state’s post-conflict development, Somaliland represents impressive progress, and consolidating an area of stability and governance in the Horn of Africa will reduce the vacant space for instability, conflict and extremism to fill.
Somaliland case not creating new precedent
Somaliland has achieved an extraordinary level of political and physical stability after being raised during the bitter civil war of the early 1990s. An embattled population found the resolve to reconstitute itself, establishing functioning organs of government without little upheaval – a rarity in post-conflict reconstruction. Its drive to create multi-party democracy upon a backdrop of relative peace and security has been impressive, if not without flaw.
Somaliland ’s considerable achievements must not continue to go unheralded, and the only substantial way to reward it is through full statehood, argues the Senlis Council in its report.
Somaliland ’s claim for full state independence is distinct from the majority of similar requests of other separatist enclaves/exclaves. Rather than seeking to secede from Somalia, Somaliland is looking to be re-constituted as an independent state. It held this status for five days between 26 June and 1 July 1960 - being recognized by 35 states in the process - before voluntarily uniting with Italian Somalia within the Somali Republic.
For most of its time inside Somalia, the territory was ruled by dictator Siyad Barre’s regime. Barre fell in 1991, along with the country’s political, economic and administrative institutions and any semblance of central government. On 18 May 1991, Somaliland revoked the 1960 Act of Union, and declared Somaliland independent. No country has officially recognized its statehood yet.
According to the report from the Senlis Council, the current policy vacuum needs to be filled by constructive engagement on the issue of Somaliland’s status at every diplomatic level, most notably within the African Union and United Nations. While this dialogue should necessarily be framed by the need for regional stability, the aim of some parties to establish a Somali Federation need not be an immediate focus of such discussions.
Somaliland declared independence in 1991, one year after the independence declaration of Pridnestrovie (Transdniestria). Both have been 'de facto' independent states for the better part of the past two decades, but neither one of them has yet obtained international diplomatic recognition. A first step towards broader international recognition will be for the two countries' Foreign Ministries to establish bilateral ties and recognize each other on a mutual basis.
Source: Tiraspol Times