Since 1991, Somaliland has claimed sovereignty despite a lack of official recognition by the broader international community. With its own government institutions, currency, and political system, what does the dispute over Somaliland look like today, and what are the prospects for international recognition?
As part of the second event in the Pacific Council’s 2019 Summer Teleconference Series covering territorial disputes, Pacific Council member Grant Harris, CEO of Harris Africa Partners, moderated a discussion between Michael Woldemariam of the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and Sagal Abshir, an independent consultant whose practice focuses on public policy issues, governance, and institution building.
Key to the ongoing dispute around Somaliland today include ongoing dynamics around the international community’s push to rebuild the political system in South Central Somalia, the current position of Ethiopia in the region, and geopolitical engagement by Gulf countries.
Both Abshir and Woldemariam provided historical context to Somaliland’s push for international recognition, with Abshir touching on the legacy of colonial rule by three European colonial powers—Britain, France, and Italy—until the formation of the Somali Republic in 1960. Despite being largely united by language and religion, the Somali people were spread across different regions, setting the stage for the former British protectorate to declare independence in 1991.
Somaliland’s claims for sovereignty—which span identity, historical memory, and legal reasoning—have remained for nearly three decades. Notable to this claim is Somaliland’s position as a relative “island of stability and security,” with its own political, security, and currency systems. But key to the ongoing dispute around Somaliland today, Woldemariam noted, include ongoing dynamics around the international community’s push to rebuild the political system in South Central Somalia, the current position of Ethiopia in the region, and geopolitical engagement by Gulf countries.
What is the path forward for Somaliland? Listen to the full conversation below, including a Q&A with teleconference listeners:
Nicole Burnett is the Summer 2019 Communications Junior Fellow