- The participation of the Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo and his delegation in the London conference on Somalia held on February 23, 2012 was a wise decision. This timely international conference organized by the British government was attended by 55 Heads of state and government and international organizations. The high level delegations included, amongst others, the USA Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton and the Secretary General of the United Nations, BanKi-moon. In the course of its deliberations the conference considered a 7-point agenda in details, following which it adopted a final communique’ in which it strongly condemned terrorism and violent extremism in Somalia, in the region and internationally. It also reiterated its determination to eradicate piracy.
For Somaliland, the advantages of this conference are self-evident. On point 6 of the communique, the conference declared that “The conference recognized the need for the international community to support any dialogue that Somaliland and TFG or its replacement may agree to establish in order to clarify their future relations “. This is in recognition, in unambiguous terms, by the international community of the serious need for Somaliland and Somalia as two separate entities to peacefully resolve their future relations. It is affirmation by the international community that Somaliland is the opposite number and equal partner of Somalia which is based on historical reality: of Somaliland and Somalia being two separate colonial states under British and Italian rule respectively from the end of the nineteen century to 1960.
It was only in 1960, following the achievement of their independence that Somaliland and Somalia formed a Union and established the now defunct Somali Republic. The Somali Republic collapsed at the beginning of 1991 following a protracted repression and civil war (1981-1991) which devastated Somaliland. In May 1991, Somaliland revoked the Union and declared its independence from Somalia.
Subsequently, over the years Somaliland government and its hardworking people have put in place a democratic structure based on the rule of law, civil society, institutions of good governance to promote social and economic development of the country. These policies do not only earn excellent reputation for Somaliland but in addition bring about improved standard of living for the people as educational, health and safe water supply facilities are expanded in urban and rural areas. Earlier on, attracted by peaceful conditions and development prospects thousands of refugees, displaced persons returned also voluntarily to rebuild Somaliland.
In the realm of international law, Somaliland fulfills all the necessary conditions for statehood including the capacity to enter into relations with other states. International law supports the view that the ability to enter into relations with other states is a function of a country’s independent policy. Following her existence as a de facto independent state for more than 20 years, Somaliland has a legitimate claim to diplomatic recognition under the principle of the right to self-determination and international law.
Somaliland’s entitlement to exercise its right of self-determination is supported by the democratic choice of its people as expressed in the 2001 referendum in which 97% of Somalilanders approved the new constitution that affirms Somaliland’s independence.
The country’s claim to independence is further supported by the principle of UtiPossedetis, a general principle in international law which requires the maintenance of colonially inherited boundaries. Somaliland accepts this principle. In African experience, this principle has been applied in the abrogation and dissolution of several voluntary post-independence Unions including, among others :
Senegal- Gambia (1982- 1989)
Mali Federation or Mali-Senegal (1960)
United Arab Republic (Egypt- Syria, 1958-1961)
Other examples include Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan and Southern Sudan, Indonesia and East Timor, Malaysia and Singapore and many others in Europe and elsewhere which among themselves dissolved their unions peacefully and in some cases with mediation of the international community.
Somaliland’s declaration of independence is based on its earlier existence as a recognized state with demarcatedcolonial boundaries and is in conformity with the Constitutive Act of the African Union that asserts respect of the boundaries existing at the time of independence. Consequently, Somaliland’s independent status represents the dissolution of a voluntary Union between two sovereign states. This is not an act of secession, (Briefing Paper of the Foreign Ministry, Hargeisa).
At present, international support for Somaliland’s independence is increasing. Many believe it would serve as a model in enhancing stability, democracy and development in the Horn of Africa. The resolution of Somaliland and Somalia future relations through direct talks, with support of the international community, will perhaps help to usher in anew era of peace and prosperity for all Somalis.
In the overall evaluation of the London conference, one could say; its importance lies in the decision of the international community to refocus its attention and address itself to those threatening problems which are feared could further destabilize the Horn of Africa. The conference decided therefore to eradicate terrorism and piracy in the region. As mentioned above, the conference recognized the role of the international community in the settlement of the future relations between Somaliland and Somalia. Apart from financial incentives, pledges were also made to assist victims of famine and drought in the region.
In conclusion,as President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyohas already expressed his appreciation to the Somaliland Diaspora in the United Kingdom and in European countries at the end of the conference, they deserve, once more, to be congratulated for their splendid and overwhelming support of the large Rally held in front of 1O Downing street held on February 22nd and for their welcoming spirit of the prominent presidential delegation to London.
By Mohamoud Abdi Da'ar