The UN’s decision to grant Somaliland independence within ten years has had a profound influence on expectations in other colonies. The human material seems good enough to be ready for self-government in a relatively short time, potentially a bright spot in the UN’s history.

Chapter Summary 

The UN’s 1950 decision to grant independence to “backward” Somaliland within ten years had a profound influence on expectations in other colonies. The UN Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian administration was established for a ten-year period, with Italy administering the territory. A special committee of the Trusteeship Council, including representatives from France, Iraq, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom, and the United States, was tasked with drafting a trusteeship agreement. The final agreement was a compromise between two drafts, one proposed by Italy and one by the Philippine delegation.
The agreement promised detailed guarantees for the population and strict restrictions on Italy’s power to claim land and natural resources. It differed from other UN trusteeship agreements in several ways: trusteeship was limited to a ten-year period, it contained a declaration of constitutional principles guaranteeing the rights of the inhabitants of Somaliland, called for the establishment of institutions to facilitate the transfer to full self-government, explicitly declared sovereignty to be vested in the people of the trust territory, and detailed provisions relating to education and land alienation.
However, UN representatives in Mogadishu were largely sidelined during the trusteeship period due to dysfunctional Advisory Councils, personal animosities, political differences, lack of specialized knowledge, and diplomatic tact. Successful mediation efforts between Somalis and Italians were the exception rather than the rule. The UN played a significant role in Somaliland, advocating for a viable economy, increasing training in public administration, and international cooperation.
The trusteeship agreement in Somaliland called for the constitution of District and Municipal Councils as consultative and representative organs of government. However, the UN did not provide guidelines for educational and economic initiatives for Somaliland’s independence. Italian authorities were eager to share their efforts with the UN despite facing budget cuts. In 1950, AFIS submitted a request for technical assistance for the development of Somaliland to the World Organization. The mission included six experts who visited Somaliland from late August to late November 1951.
However, Dean’s hopes were disappointed as Italian officials appeared reluctant to offer economic information. The UN team in Mogadishu faced difficulties in establishing a working relationship with Italian administration officials in Somaliland due to lack of statistical data, the absence of a fellow economist, pressing duties of Italians, and the lassitude of the tropics.
The central problem was facilitating the economic and social advancement of the indigenous population despite chronic deficiencies in government revenue. The Italian colonial administration had covered budget deficits since the beginning, but Rome ignored his pleas and downsized military expenditures. By 1956, Somalis had replaced Italians in all senior administrative positions, but Rome continued to cut the budget subsidy to Mogadishu and gave no assurances for continued Italian budget contributions until 1960.
The UN provided no overall direction or coordination of development efforts in Somaliland, and AFIS was slow to introduce a comprehensive plan. The lack of a development plan until 1954 caused constant concern among government representatives at various UN intergovernmental organs.
In 1959, Italy petitioned the UN to end trusteeship for Somaliland, leading to the birth of the independent Somali Republic on July 1, 1960. The UN-mandated state-building exercises in Libya and Somaliland shared similarities, with UN officials framing state-building as a technical challenge for international experts rather than a political process. This sparked a warming of administrators towards the UN, especially the British and French. The UN’s emphasis on planning for development and investment in government personnel helped deflect attention from insufficient international material support for newly independent countries.


The United Nations, Development, and Decolonization, 1945–1965

By Eva-Maria Muschik

Columbia University Press

BUILDING STATES The United Nations, Development, and Decolonization, 1945–1965Postwar multilateral cooperation is often viewed as an attempt to overcome the limitations of the nation-state system. However, in 1945, when the United Nations was founded, large parts of the world were still under imperial control. Building States investigates how the UN tried to manage the dissolution of European empires in the 1950s and 1960s—and helped transform the practice of international development and the meaning of state sovereignty in the process.
Eva-Maria Muschik argues that the UN played a key role in the global proliferation and reinvention of the nation-state in the postwar era, as newly independent states came to rely on international assistance. Drawing on previously untapped primary sources, she traces how UN personnel—usually in close consultation with Western officials—sought to manage decolonization peacefully through international development assistance. Examining initiatives in Libya, Somaliland, Bolivia, the Congo, and New York, Muschik shows how the UN pioneered a new understanding and practice of state building, presented as a technical challenge for international experts rather than a political process. UN officials increasingly took on public-policy functions, despite the organization’s mandate not to interfere in the domestic affairs of its member states. These initiatives, Muschik suggests, had lasting effects on international development practice, peacekeeping, and post-conflict territorial administration.
Casting new light on how international organizations became major players in the governance of developing countries, Building States has significant implications for the histories of decolonization, the Cold War, and international development.

About The Author

Eva-Maria Muschik is a historian and an assistant professor in the Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna.


Introduction: Managing the World

1. The UN and the Colonial World: International Trusteeship and Non-Self-Governing Territories

2. How to Build a State?: The UN in Libya

3. If Ten Years Suffice for Somaliland…

4. Moving Beyond Advice: Pioneering Administrative Assistance in Bolivia

5. Hammarskjöld, Decolonization, and the Proposal for an International Administrative Service

6. State-Building Meets Peacekeeping: The UN Civilian Operations in the Congo Crisis, 1960–1964




 Chapter 3

If Ten Years Suffice For Somaliland …

The problem here is interesting. I suppose that economically things are pretty tough and it appears that a very small percentage of the people are literate. However the human material seems so good that even in ten years the thing can be done.… [I]f we put our backs into it we could have the country ready for self-government in a relatively short time. This could be a bright spot in [the] UN’s history.
UN Secretariat official reporting from Mogadishu to the New York headquarters in 1950

In a contemporary review of the Somali state-building process, one observer noted that, although initially not intended as an experiment in the feasibility of international state creation, conditions in the territory were so unfavorable that if the UN approach proved effective there, it would be expected to meet with success anywhere else. A decade later, a former UN official similarly suggested that the 1949 General Assembly decision to grant independence to “backward” Somaliland within ten years had “a profound influence” on expectations in other colonies. If ten years was considered sufficient time to turn pauper Somaliland into a state, why should other, much more “advanced” colonies have to wait longer? The UN trusteeship system as such, he argued, played only a secondary role in transforming expectations about colonial rule.[1]

After the UN member states decided to turn Somaliland into a UN trust territory under Italian administration for a ten-year period, a special committee of the Trusteeship Council (composed of representatives from France, Iraq, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom, and the United States) was given the task of drafting a trusteeship agreement, according to which Italy would administer the territory. Italy was invited to participate in the drafting process without a vote, as were Egypt and Colombia, the latter two because they would dispatch representatives to a UN Advisory Council to be set up in Mogadishu. Ethiopia received a similar invitation because of its “special interest in East Africa,” as did India, because the country’s representatives had previously drafted a set of constitutional principles to be included in the trusteeship agreement for Somaliland.


The final agreement registered a compromise between two drafts, one proposed by Italy and one by the Philippine delegation. According to a former colleague of his, the “Philippine” draft was actually written by American Secretariat member Tom Power (who would later serve as Adrian Pelt’s deputy in Libya; see previous chapter). Power was then still working for the U.S. State Department and, by his own admission, possessed little knowledge about the Italian colonies.[2] During the draft negotiation, according to one Secretariat observer, representatives of the Philippines and Iraq strove determinedly to make the trust agreement for Somaliland a model expression of trusteeship. The agreement promised detailed guarantees for the population and sharp curbs on the “administering authority’s” freedom of action, imposing, for example, stringent restrictions on Italy’s power to claim land and natural resources.[3]

The final document thus differed from other UN trusteeship agreements on several points: trusteeship in Somaliland was limited to a ten-year period; it contained a declaration of constitutional principles meant to guarantee the rights of the inhabitants of Somaliland; it called for the establishment of institutions designed to facilitate the transfer to full self-government; it explicitly declared sovereignty to be vested in the people of the trust territory; and its provisions relating to, for example, education and land alienation were spelled out in greater detail. Finally, the agreement stipulated that a UN Advisory Council, situated in Mogadishu and composed of one representative each from Colombia, Egypt, and the Philippines, was to assist the Italian administration of the territory, the Amministrazione Fiduciaria Italiana della Somalia (AFIS). The intergovernmental UN Advisory Council, so the more optimistic observers hoped, would act as a “watchdog” for the UN in Somaliland by reporting to New York.[4] On the ground, the Advisory Council was supported by a handful of UN Secretariat officials, who were seconded from New York to the Somali capital.[5]

Despite their initial high hopes, UN representatives in Mogadishu were largely sidelined during the trusteeship period. The Advisory Council was highly dysfunctional. Personal animosities and political differences among government representatives as well as Secretariat officials played a role, as did lack of specialized knowledge and diplomatic tact. Some council members simply resented being sent to Mogadishu—in the eyes of one UN official “a godforsaken place with a lousy per diem.”[6] The Italian administration regarded the Advisory Council at best as a joke and, given the anti-Italian stance of the Philippine and Egyptian delegates, at worst as a threat, and thus by and large ignored it.[7] Successful mediation efforts between Somalis and Italians by individual UN representatives seem to have been the exception rather than the rule. In addition to its strained relationship with the Advisory Council and the Italian administration, the UN mission in Mogadishu was also troubled by staff shortages, lack of language skills, unfamiliarity with legislative matters, and a mostly distant, often patronizing attitude toward Somalis.

Nevertheless, the UN played a significant role in the territory. From early on, Secretariat officials in Mogadishu, much as in Libya, lobbied for the notion that “a viable economy” was a necessity for true independence and indeed the survival of the state. Pointing to the experience in Libya, the New York headquarters also pushed for increasing training in public administration, and technocratic assistance more generally, as a necessary part of any state-building project in Somaliland.[8] UN reports tied Somali sovereignty to the need for foreign assistance and international cooperation. In view of lacking material support from the “international community” (that is, from UN member governments), these initiatives helped push Somalia toward a clientelist relationship with sponsor countries, namely the United States and Italy. To the distress of UN officials on the ground, both Washington and Rome were happy to turn a blind eye, or indeed actively support anti-democratic developments in the territory, as long as “radical” politicians were barred from the government. Much as in Libya, the UN’s involvement in state-building in Somalia proved a rather sobering experience to those closely involved.


Situated on the Horn of Africa, where the Gulf of Aden meets the Indian Ocean, the UN Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian Administration, formerly known as Italian Somaliland or Somalia Italiana, bordered British Somaliland in the northwest, Ethiopia in the west, and capital city. The union with Somalia has proved difficult to say the least, while relations with Kenya in the southwest. Italy’s colonial presence dated to the late 1880s, when European colonial powers carved up the Horn of Africa, inhabited mostly by Somalis, who shared a common language, culture, and religion. In the 1950s, the trust territory, which spanned approximately 500,000 square kilometers, had a population of about one million, of whom 70 to 80 percent were nomadic or seminomadic pastoralists. At the time, it had no known mineral resources—and, according to UN reports, due to the arid climate, livestock raising and agriculture provided only a bare livelihood for many Somalis. Fascist Italy’s efforts to turn deserts into fertile fields had mainly concentrated on Libya, though there had been some investments in infrastructure and settler agriculture in Somaliland as well.[9]

While Italians had largely barred Somalis from receiving formal education and forming political associations, the British Military Administration, which occupied the territory from 1941 to 1950, provided some openings in this regard. Somali party politics flourished under the British military occupation. Many Somalis were hopeful that, under British patronage, a unification of all Somali-speaking regions might be feasible, which would have included neighboring British and French Somaliland, as well as parts of Ethiopia and capital city. The union with Somalia has proved difficult to say the least, while relations with Kenya.[10] The prolonged period of uncertainty after the signing of the Peace Treaty, which divested Italy of its colonies in 1945, and especially the great power investigative commission dispatched in 1947 to survey local opinion, further encouraged Somali political organization.[11]

At the same time, Italians mobilized a pro-Italian Somali umbrella organization, the Conferenza per la Somalia, which clashed violently with the anti-Italian opposition centered on the main nationalist party, the Somali Youth League (SYL) in 1948.[12] It was against this background of fierce opposition to Italian rule that Rome deployed a large number of troops to Somaliland in the somewhat hasty transfer of power from the British in early 1950. The official beginning of the UN trusteeship period thus resembled the advent of a foreign military occupation rather than the arrival of an internationally sanctioned civilian administration. Though the British Military Authority had forbidden demonstrations protesting the Italian return, a dockworker strike, which forced the Italians to unload their own cargo, demonstrated Somali resistance to the transfer of power.[13]

Save for the head of the new administration, Giovanni Fornari, and his second-in-command Pier Pasquale Spinelli, Rome staffed AFIS above all with fascist-era colonial officials—an issue Somalis repeatedly raised at the UN to no avail.[14] To counter opposition to Italian rule, AFIS initially severely restricted Somali party activities and incarcerated many people suspected of opposition to the new administration, to the point that the number of prisoners in Mogadishu rose threefold within the first two months of trusteeship.[15] Somalis, particularly the SYL, sought to counter these measures by petitioning the United Nations (which offered no remedy) and organizing frequent and widespread protests in the territory. The conflict between Somalis and AFIS reached a climax in August 1952, when two representatives of the administration were stoned to death during a demonstration against the authorities in the port city of Kismayo and Italian officials temporarily closed down the SYL headquarters.[16] After the incident, Fadel Bey, the Egyptian delegate to the UN Advisory Council in Mogadishu, held many talks to facilitate reconciliation between the opposing groups, and the relationship eventually became less confrontational.[17]

By the mid-1950s, after the SYL achieved its first decisive electoral victory, the party was closely cooperating with AFIS, and indeed asking the Italian administration to remain in the territory until the end of the trusteeship period and support the Somali state beyond independence. Scholars have listed several reasons for this about-turn of the party, which would rule Somalia until Siyad Barre’s military coup in 1969; among them were AFIS’ carrot-and-stick policies (repression coupled with select educational opportunities), changes in the leadership of both AFIS and the SYL, and the disappointed hope for British support of Pan-Somali unity after London ceded Somali-speaking territories to Ethiopia in 1954.[18] The growing realization that international assistance was necessary for the continued survival of a sovereign Somali state—a notion the UN tirelessly promoted in the trust territory—likely played a role as well.


The first UN Secretariat officials set foot in Mogadishu in May 1950, a month after the Italian arrival, to support the work of the UN Advisory Council. Impressed by Somali intelligence and initiative, some UN representatives—as the opening quote indicates—were initially optimistic about the prospects of state-building in the territory and presented it as a potential “bright spot” in the history of the United Nations. Though “economically things are pretty tough,… the human material seems so good, that even in ten years the thing can be done,” predicted one UN staff member in a bout of “24-hour expertising,” for which he apologized.[19] Others were decidedly less confident. In a private meeting with secretary-general Trygve Lie in late November 1950, Egon Ranshofen-Wertheimer, the first principal secretary of the UN mission in Somaliland, suggested that the situation was complicated.

Ranshofen-Wertheimer was born in 1894 in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire and grew up to study law and history in Vienna, Munich, and Heidelberg. From 1924 to 1930, he worked as a foreign correspondent for the social democratic newspaper Vorwärts in London, before joining the League of Nations in Geneva. In 1940, he immigrated to the foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States, where he worked at the American University in Washington, DC as a consultant to the State Department, and as a journalist. In early 1946, he joined a mission to arrange the transfer of funds and functions from the League to the UN and was offered a position in the UN Secretariat upon his return to the foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States. In January 1949, he served as principal secretary of the UN mission charged with overseeing the peaceful withdrawal of American troops in Korea and negotiating the unification of the North and South. Ranshofen-Wertheimer’s background testifies to the relative diversity of UN officials as well as to their general lack of specialized preparation for assignments abroad.[20]

It is unclear on what basis Ranshofen-Wertheimer formed his opinions about Somaliland, but he suggested to Secretary-General Lie in 1950 that the population was “at the lowest level of development of any African people” since most were nomads without an interest in agriculture. Even if they could be convinced to change their ways, he reported, 80 percent of the territory was wasteland unsuitable for agriculture or animal husbandry. Few Somalis had enjoyed formal education, and none, he thought, had any training or experience with democratic institutions. “Without a tremendous effort … to educate and train people, supplemented by a large-scale technical assistance program aimed toward converting the population from a nomadic to a settled experience,” Ranshofen-Wertheimer concluded, it would be difficult to realize true independence for Somaliland within the space of ten years.[21]

As noted above, the UN remained largely on the sidelines of the actual state-building effort in Somaliland. The UN Advisory Council in Mogadishu was supposed to act as a guardian of the world organization and assist AFIS with the administration of the territory. Yet the fierce personal and political differences already noted, coupled with AFIS’ disinterest in actually consulting the Council on policy matters, severely hampered its effectiveness. Five months into the UN’s presence in Somaliland, A. J. Lucas, the principal secretary from France, who replaced Ranshofen-Wertheimer as head of the UN mission in June, resigned because of “violent attacks” by the Philippine delegate to the Council, Victorio Carpio. Carpio accused Lucas and the Colombian representative to the Council of not supporting the Somali cause and tweaking UN reports to the Trusteeship Council in New York accordingly.[22] (Lucas, who also had health issues, was replaced by the Canadian Germanist Taylor Shore for a year, before fellow Frenchman Jean de la Roche, whose internationalist vision for a new, postcolonial age was discussed in chapter 1, took over.[23]) AFIS and the pro-Italian Somali parties, in turn, accused the Philippine delegate of exceeding the terms of reference of his appointment by “meddling” with political parties and thus inviting “widespread bloodshed.”[24] After Rome declared Carpio a persona non grata, he was recalled to Manila in early 1952.[25] Secretariat officials, who had considered Carpio “stupid,” gullible, “cunning,” “treacherous,” “greedy” and cheap, if also “hard-working” and generally well-intentioned toward the Somali cause, were full of praise for his successor, Vicente Pastrana, describing him as conscientious and willing to compromise.[26]

After Carpio’s departure, relations between Council members improved somewhat, though long-serving Colombian representative Edmondo de Holte Castello, according to Secretariat officials, often behaved in a “childish and unpredictable” way.[27] While principal secretary Lucas apparently got along well with Castello, his successor Shore considered the Colombian delegate a “smart cookie,” but also a “bastard” who didn’t have “an honest bone in his body.” Shore saw in Castello an even “greater evil” than in Philippine delegate Carpio.[28] Shore reported that in addition to suffering from alcoholism, Castello was vain, vicious, megalomaniac, and “extremely pro-Italian.”[29] In one instance, Castello refused to sign the annual report to the Trusteeship Council—even if all it said was “Mogadishu is very hot”—to spite the other delegates.[30] Later on, he refused to sign the report because he did not understand the technical details of the section on the economy.[31]

Successive Egyptian delegates to the Council were for the most part less confrontational. Indeed, principal secretary Shore praised delegate Fadel Bey as “intelligent and easy to get along with.” Though he reported that Bey was “monkeying around” with things beyond his terms of reference, Shore thought that overall he was doing much practical good, e.g., by smoothing hostilities between Arab and Somali communities in Mogadishu.[32] Shore described Bey as wildly popular with Somalis—a “mob” of “hundreds and hundreds” came to greet him at the airport after a home leave—and wielding “tremendous influence.”[33] Soon, and with a tint of jealousy (“a refrig and a radio is [sic] being imported from Aden”), Shore began to worry about Cairo’s investment in the region, which he saw as bent on “impress[ing] the gullible with Egyptian importance.” In addition to the seemingly lavish spending on Bey’s representational comforts in Mogadishu, Shore was alarmed by the promise of twenty Egyptian fellowships for Somali students to study in Cairo, as well as Egypt’s intention to send two Koranic and a number of secondary-school teachers. Maybe no other power wanted to influence Somaliland, he mused (“naturally, I’m thinking of Great Britain and especially the U.S.A”), before suggesting the U.S. take “a load of young Somalis” for study in America as a “counterbalance” to Egyptian efforts.[34] De la Roche, too, worried that Egyptian delegates were ultimately less invested in making the Council work and assisting AFIS in the administration of the territory than in using their UN-sponsored position in Mogadishu to campaign for Egyptian interests in the region: that is, the widespread use of Arabic in Somaliland and, more generally, subsuming the Pan-Somali project into Pan-Arabism, led by Cairo.[35]

While representing Cairo’s interests in Somaliland was surely important to Egyptian Council delegates, the initiatives pursued by the Philippine and Egyptian representatives suggest a markedly different understanding of the Council’s role. Both generally sought to bolster the “watch-dog” function of the Council, arguing, for example, for Somali representatives and reports to be sent to the General Assembly, where colonial powers were a minority, rather than to the Trusteeship Council, where they were not outnumbered. UN staff, by contrast, saw the Advisory Council in Mogadishu as a body that was supposed to constructively support the Italian administration.[36]

Regardless of these different conceptions about the Council and the role of the UN, when it came to the day-to-day decision-making in Somaliland, the Advisory Council remained on the sidelines. The Italian administration simply had no interest in involving the Council in policy decisions. If AFIS sent it ordinances for advice at all, they were usually dispatched in a last-minute face-saving measure. Often Council members and Secretariat officials would only learn of important political decisions made by the administration from reading the local newspaper, the Corriere della Somalia. The news of post-independence Italian foreign aid, for example, was only announced to the Advisory Council a few hours after it had been published in the Corriere.[37]

By 1953, Colombian delegate Castello wished to reveal the “futility” of the Advisory Council to the Trusteeship Council, so that delegates in New York would put an end to the charade. He suggested that the Advisory Council be replaced with some kind of technical UN body staffed with legal, economic, and educational experts, which might be in a better position to constructively assist AFIS in the administration of Somaliland. In a confidential assessment of the work of the Advisory Council, Principal Secretary Jean de la Roche supported Castello’s proposal. As discussed in the previous chapter, colonial officials in Libya, in cooperation with the UN, had taken exactly this route of depoliticizing state-building by circumventing political discussions with regard to the country’s future monetary arrangements and leaving the matter to technical experts instead. In Mogadishu, the UN’s preference for technocratic advice rather than politicized discussions was not simply rooted in a Machiavellian desire to assume control of the Somali state-building process. Rather, it should also be understood as a response to the very real dysfunction of the Council. “Somalia is supposed to be taken care of, but it is not,” de la Roche noted in 1953, worrying about the prestige of the UN that he thought was at stake.[38] Yet, because the Secretariat was afraid of pushback from the Philippines and Egypt in the General Assembly, it took no initiative to abolish or transform the Council and AFIS simply continued to ignore it.[39]

The Council’s relationship with the first Somali administration, it appears, was not much better. A year after the first Somali government was elected in 1956, SYL Prime Minister Abdullahi Issa Mohamud assured the UN that his government wished the Council to continue its operations until the end of the trusteeship period. Apparently, up until then, the Somali government had not been familiar with the Council’s offers of assistance—perhaps a testament to its marginal role.[40] Subsequently, according to Secretariat officials, members of the Advisory Council would frequently advise Somali government officials on important problems. Their comments on the country’s labor code, for example, reportedly made a great impression on the Somali government. The latter also sought support from Council members with regard to the unresolved border issue with Ethiopia, before it was discussed at the General Assembly.[41]

By the end of 1958, however, the relationship deteriorated rapidly when the Council protested the introduction of a new voting law designed to obstruct opposition parties.[42] In October, the Somali Constitutional Independent Party (HDMS) had done very well in the municipal elections, while the ruling SYL did not achieve its desired result. UN officials had been impressed by the “dignified and peaceful atmosphere” of these elections and especially by the high turnout of women, who voted for the first time. The UN received no complaints regarding the conduct of these elections.[43] However, in the wake of their disappointing results, the SYL ratified a new electoral law that prevented opposition parties from fairly competing in the upcoming national elections.[44] Amid rising tensions and violent clashes between the Somali government and opposition parties, the Advisory Council tried to mediate, to no avail.[45]

Much like Council delegates, Secretariat officials were largely removed from Italian and later Somali decision-making. Though successive principal secretaries described the relationship with the Italian authorities as “quite cordial,” they blamed AFIS’s “somewhat fuzzy and unsystematic” manner of operating for the lack of cooperation with the UN.[46] Meanwhile, their relationship with Somali politicians and the population at large was hampered by language issues as well as a patronizing, if not racist attitude on the part of UN officials. Somali pleas for an Arab-speaking principal secretary of the UN mission in Mogadishu were never answered or apparently even considered a possibility. For long stretches during the trusteeship period, no “responsible” UN staff member in Mogadishu was a speaker of Arabic, leaving the mission, by its own description, “mutilated.”[47] Early on, Lebanese political officer Goro Deeb, who served as the UN mission’s “contact man” with the Somalis, accused acting principal secretary Taylor Shore of “racial bias.”[48] Shore, who had described Somalis in personal letters as “no fools” but occasionally a “pretty demanding, unreasonable and cocky bunch,” rejected the accusation, which ended in a public brawl at an Italian party and an apology from Deeb the next morning.[49]

The UN’s remove from Somali concerns was also reflected and supported by the choice of its headquarters-cum-housing-facility in Mogadishu, a compound called “the Lido” outside of the city center. Living conditions, according to one staff member, were “fairly primitive, but tolerable enough,” save for only “rudimentary” medical services.[50] UN staff members, however, lamented the problem of “staff living and working too close together for comfort,” and Shore partly blamed his dramatic falling-out with Deeb, which involved whiskey-throwing and a knock-out blow, on this issue. Yet they saw no other solution to this accommodation, pointing to “greedy landlords” who believed the UN to possess its own “dollar-printing shop,” as well as the ubiquity of robberies. (Ignoring such concerns, the Egyptian delegate to the Advisory Council moved out of the compound to a house in town in early 1952.[51])

Despite the language barrier and the UN’s physical distancing, many Somalis continued to visit “the Lido” throughout the trusteeship period. While most inquired about job opportunities, others asked the UN to intervene with the Italian and, later, Somali authorities on their behalf, often in the form of petitions. Officially, the Advisory Council in Mogadishu was not allowed to receive, much less investigate such petitions on the spot. Only the Trusteeship Council in New York was allowed to receive and examine petitions from trust territories. Understandably, the procedure was confusing and annoying to Somalis, who expected the supposed UN “watchdog” in Mogadishu to intercede on their behalf with the authorities.[52] Though successive Philippine and Egyptian delegates to the Advisory Council continued to protest this, a Secretariat paper concurred that the Council “should be kept as much as possible far from the field of local passions and struggles.”[53] It was the exception rather than the rule if individual Council delegates were able to successfully mediate between Somalis and AFIS (as was the case after the Kismayo incident described above) and, after the introduction of self-government following national elections in 1956, among the population of the territory, AFIS, and the Somali government.

De la Roche noted that Advisory Council members were freer to act as intermediaries between AFIS and, later, the Somali government and the people if no formal petitions were involved. One example was the case of Abgal political leaders, who, after not being able to obtain an interview with the Italian administration to protest the digging of a well on their land, visited the UN compound in 1953. More precisely, they sought out Algerian UN officer Abdelamek Lakhdari, whose expertise lay in both mining engineering and Arabic philology and literature. Lakhdari notified the Egyptian delegate to the Advisory Council, Mahmoud Moharram Hamdy, who in turn was able to arrange a meeting with Italian administrator Enrico Martino, which ultimately resulted in a halt to the digging. De la Roche noted that Lakhdari acted with great diplomacy in this awkward situation: while he was not able to give the impression that the Advisory Council was allowed to investigate Somali petitions, he did not dryly refuse people who came to the compound to get the UN’s attention.[54] In another instance in 1958, a crowd of 200 merchants gathered before the UN compound to protest the introduction of a new market tax by the Somali government. After Philippine delegate Mauro Baradi informally approached Prime Minister Abdullahi Issa about the issue, the government lowered the tax.[55] Such episodes of successful mediation or lobbying on the part of UN representatives, however, seem to have been the exception rather than the rule. By and large it was left to AFIS, and later the Somali government, to determine the shape of the actual state-building process.


With regard to the transfer to self-government, the trusteeship agreement drafted by UN delegates had laid out some guidelines for AFIS: namely, that a national consultative organ, a Territorial Council, as well as local consultative organs, were to be set up immediately. The former, constituted in late 1950, provided Somalis with the first opportunity under colonial rule to gather in a central organ of government and confront national issues in an advisory capacity. The thirty-five appointees chosen by AFIS dealt with substantive matters of governance, ranging from the regulation of the cotton industry to the organization of the school system, and gained experience in dealing with the “intricacies of a modern parliamentary system.”[56] In appointing representatives, however, AFIS by and large neglected the political developments in the region since the 1940s and favored “traditional” community leaders over party representatives.[57]

It was only in 1956, following General Assembly pressure for increased Somali participation in government and territory-wide elections, that the Territorial Council was replaced by a new seventy-seat elected Legislative Assembly, which, under the lead of the nationalist SYL, assumed responsibility for the territory’s domestic affairs.[58] Still, the electoral procedures adopted by AFIS, a mix of direct male voting in urban areas and representative voting in rural areas without a reliable census of the population, invited severe electoral tampering. The procedures, moreover, formalized the institution of the shir, an essentially spontaneous meeting of men belonging to the same clan or subclan, as representative of a community, to the exclusion of women and minorities.[59]

At the local level, the trusteeship agreement had called for the constitution of District and Municipal Councils as consultative and eventually representative organs of government. It was hoped that such local councils would serve as instruments of civic education for the larger population by drawing Somalis into official decision-making processes and eventually granting them financial, executive, and legislative powers over local matters. Some scholars at the time suggested that the Municipal Councils were indeed successfully transformed into elected, largely autonomous bodies of local governance.[60] The District Councils, by contrast, were characterized by a highly autocratic structure built around a community leader. The majority nomad population, moreover, failed to identify with Italian-created districts. AFIS projects, from roads to schools, seemed remote from their own daily needs: the search for and competition over pasturage and water. Equally important, although the UN Advisory Council and the two UN visiting missions that toured the country in 1951 and 1954 continuously urged greater autonomy for the District Councils, Somali representatives at the national level opposed an increase in power of these local bodies, arguing that such a move would strengthen the forces of “tribalism” rather than democracy. The District Councils thus remained above all consultative bodies, leaving authority firmly with the central government, which, following the introduction of self-government in 1956, set out to create a highly centralized one-party state on AFIS’s and the UN Advisory Council’s watch.[61]


When it came to educational and economic initiatives for turning Somaliland into an independent state, UN delegates at the General Assembly had not provided AFIS with any guidelines. From the outset, Italian authorities (at least those higher up) were eager to share that “tremendous effort” with the UN—contrary to other colonial powers, as shown in the previous chapter. On November 20, 1950, AFIS submitted a request for technical assistance for the development of Somaliland to the World Organization.[62] One likely cause was that Rome, in the early 1950s, was still trying to get into the UN’s good graces. Even though it was the designated UN “administering authority” in Somaliland at the time, Italy was not yet a member of the world organization; it was only admitted in 1955.[63] More importantly, perhaps, despite Marshall Plan aid, Italian resources were limited and Rome’s priority was the national recovery from war damages and the development of “metropolitan” territories that were considered economically and otherwise backward.[64] As a result, AFIS faced continuous budget cuts, starting with a drop from 8,000 to 6,000 million lire for 1951.[65]

In their technical assistance request to the UN, the Italians asked for no less than a general survey of the economic and social needs of the territory, with particular attention to the development of agriculture and of fundamental education; for a program to improve conditions; an outline of further necessary UN assistance; and an overall cost assessment of such a development effort.[66] AFIS officials thought that three people should be able to do the job in three months: one chief economist, one expert in social development, and one general agricultural and zootechnical economist.[67]

As chief economist and head of the mission, the UN Secretariat in New York saw William H. Dean as a great fit. At the time, Dean, a Harvard graduate and one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate in economics, served as chief of the Africa Unit in the UN Secretariat’s Department of Economic Affairs. Much like his colleague Ralph Bunche (see Chapter 1), Dean had initially worked in academia and, despite graduating at the top of his class, encountered difficulties likely related to racism when it came to securing permanent employment in higher education. Again like Bunche, Dean entered government service during the war (serving with a federal agency established to prevent inflation in Haiti and the Virgin Islands), and left segregated Washington, D.C. to join the UN Secretariat in New York in 1946.[68] As a junior secretary, Dean took part in the first comprehensive UN technical assistance mission, in which twelve experts of the UN and the specialized agencies had taken stock of Haiti’s potential for development in 1948.[69] As noted above, Dean had also participated in the reconnaissance mission to Libya in 1950 (discussed in the previous chapter) and came highly recommended by his senior colleague Carter Goodrich. Goodrich prized Dean as an “admirable colleague” who was both “knowledgeable” and “sensitive to the political implications of the problems” they had encountered in Libya, which he thought Dean had handled “with considerable tact and discretion.”[70]

Drawing on this prior experience, Dean thought that the Italian request for UN assistance in Somaliland was rather delusional, in that it expected far too much of too few people in too limited a time.[71] He agreed to serve as chief economist to the mission to Somaliland only if the assignment was clearly defined as a manageable one. He suggested undertaking a mission of a more exploratory nature, one that would briefly review the economic and social problems, which could subsequently be dealt with in more detail by individual experts. His mission could make a partial and preliminary evaluation of existing development projects and Italian plans for the territory, and broadly indicate the direction of economic and social advance, without, however, working out a detailed development plan as well as a cost analysis, as Italian authorities had suggested.[72] When the goals for the mission were scaled back accordingly, Dean felt obliged to accept, “though with many reservations.”[73]

In the end, Dean’s mission included six experts, who visited Somaliland from late August to late November in 1951.[74] The UN team first gathered in Rome on August 23 to organize and collect material on Somaliland and to meet with Italian officials from the Foreign Office and the soon-to-be-disbanded Ministry of Italian Africa. Dean’s hopes to embark on a “constructive task in a spirit of scientific humility” were soon disappointed. Although he found most conversations satisfactory, Italian officials appeared reluctant to offer economic information, which Dean considered essential for his mission, such as the balance of payments or the record of investments.[75] The UN mission left Rome for Somaliland on August 25, conducting “very fruitful” conversations on matters of agriculture and livestock with officials from neighboring French as well as British Somaliland during the journey.[76]

In Mogadishu, the UN team tried to establish a working relationship with the technical services of the Italian administration before embarking on field trips to survey the territory. As in Rome, Dean found that the conversations with Italian officials in Somaliland “proceeded with great difficulty.”[77] He attributed this to the lack of statistical data, the absence of a fellow economist at AFIS, the manifold pressing duties of the Italians he met, and the “lassitude of the tropics.”[78] In private, he told a colleague that he thought of the Italians as “hopelessly disengaged & archaic.”[79] Principal secretary Taylor Shore had a slightly different take on Dean’s difficulties: he thought that Dean, “in his anxiety to get cracking,” tried “whipping the Italians along like a bunch of schoolboys, and this they naturally resented.”[80] As AFIS was largely staffed with fascist-era colonial officials, racism surely played a role in Dean’s difficulties as well. Generally, his trouble with bureaucrats “on the ground” also testifies to a divide in the Italian willingness to work with the UN among top officials and their mid- to lower-level staff on site.

In the absence of facts on Somaliland, Dean ultimately offered little more than his general impressions of the economy as a whole in the conclusion of his work. He thought that chief administrator Fornari’s request for the UN to draw up a development program for Somaliland with a spending limit of 6 billion lire was an “impossible task.”[81] The central problem as he saw it was the question of how to facilitate the economic and social advancement of the indigenous population despite chronic deficiencies in government revenue.[82] Ever since the beginning of the Italian colonial administration, the territory had been plagued by budget deficits, which Rome had covered through grants. In 1950, AFIS had raised about $3 million in territorial revenue (a measly 13 percent through direct taxation and 73 percent through import and export duties), while close to $17 million had been provided by Rome. Although the deficit was later reduced (largely due to a reduction in military spending from about $10 million in 1950 to about $3 million in 1958), still only 50 percent of the overall $14 million in 1958 budget was supported by internal revenue.[83] In other words, the costs of government, even at the bare-bones level that was not yet committed to significant social spending, appeared staggering in comparison to governmental income. Fornari hoped the UN mission would provide a hint where help would come from in the future.[84]

Dean was at a loss to provide one. He never wrote a final report on the work of his UN mission to Somaliland. Shortly after his return to New York, on January 8, 1951, Dean ended his own life. Jet magazine quoted Ralph Bunche, then director of the Secretariat’s Trusteeship Division, as suggesting that Dean had been “physically exhausted” by overwork on his Somaliland mission.[85] His colleagues, as well as an unnamed “specialist closely associated” with Dean, finished the report, which was published in early 1952.[86] Conflating the costs of the Italian administration of the colony with “the economy,” its introductory remarks noted that the latter had not been “viable, even at a low level, since the advent of European administration.”[87] The UN technical assistance mission did not pretend to foresee any rapid improvement in the “fundamentally deficitary character of the economy.” Nevertheless, the report indicated some possibilities for progress. Much like the UN recommendations for Libya, the Secretariat’s report for Somaliland emphasized the development of agriculture, and the “direct needs of its inhabitants,” recommending sound investment in education, health, and social welfare as an “absolutely essential prerequisite for economic development.”[88]


AFIS chief administrator Fornari pressed Rome for additional funds to invest in Somali social and economic development. He even threatened to resign over impending budget cuts, complaining that AFIS would not be able to cover even routine administrative expenses, much less develop the territory as the trusteeship agreement required. Although Rome ignored his pleas, Fornari carried on, downsizing military expenditures and pushing the rapid “Somalization” of the state bureaucracy as both a cost-saving measure and a necessary step toward national independence.[89] By 1956, Somalis had replaced Italians in all senior administrative positions, though Italian “counselors” continued to assist Somali ministers.[90] Rome, meanwhile, continued to cut the budget subsidy to Mogadishu (by 1955, it was reduced to 5,500 million lire) and gave no assurances for continued Italian budget contributions until 1960, much less for financial support to the Somali state after independence.[91]

Amid this uncertainty, AFIS outsourced developmental activities to the UN specialized agencies, particularly in the fields of education and health. Most significant, perhaps, in this regard was the UN Educational and Scientific Organization’s (UNESCO) Five-Year Program for Educational Development, drafted in 1952.[92] While in 1948, there were an estimated 1,222 students in Somali schools, by the 1957–1958 scholastic year this figure had increased to more than 30,000 students, most enrolled in primary schools. However, only slightly more than 1,000 students at that time received some kind of secondary education, of whom only 25 percent actually graduated. Because these students were the main source of clerical employees for government and commerce and the only source for teacher training and higher education, one contemporary observer noted that—despite UNESCO’s achievements—the bottleneck in secondary education would likely retard the country’s overall development in the future.[93]

UNESCO’s attempts to turn nomads into Somali citizens via educational projects likewise showed mixed results. A project at Dinsor that offered teaching in handicrafts, health measures, and new techniques in farming and animal husbandry to “semi-nomads” was considered a success by contemporary observers. A similar project at Afmedu, by contrast, which unsuccessfully sought to provide “more elementary, fundamental education” to members of the same group of nomads was soon abandoned. Secretariat officials in Mogadishu thought of the Afmedu project as poorly conceived because it lacked Somali participation. More importantly, they thought of the assigned expert, Dr. Zöhrer, who was a meteorologist by training, as woefully ill-suited for the job, given his view of Somali nomads as “culturally backward” and generally “lacking in mental perceptive facilities.”[94]

The World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) assisted AFIS in an extensive campaign to fight malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases in Somali schools.[95] In 1956, AFIS requested emergency aid from UNICEF to combat famine in the region of Midjertain. The “emergency” situation in the region continued for at least another two years. In February 1959, a UN memo noted that life in Midjertain was hard. The mortality rate of children, the report speculated, was probably high, though “naturally,” there were no statistics. One district commissioner had lost twelve of his seventeen children between the age of one and three and he believed this to be a normal proportion. The report’s author, however, pointed out that the commissioner’s living standards were certainly higher than those of a shepherd living in the same region. Without going into any details, UN officials blamed the Somali government for mishandling UNICEF food supplies meant to lessen the suffering. Elsewhere, they reported that the government was restricting access to water to enforce party membership.[96] A similar scenario with regard to UNICEF food supplies seems possible.[97]

Although the UN specialized agencies were altogether more active in Somaliland than in any other trust territory, the UN Secretariat in Mogadishu did not provide any sense of direction for the territory’s overall development activities. In fact, in many cases, experts dispatched by the UN agencies were completely unaware of the special role that the UN played in the territory and the presence of a UN Advisory Council and Secretariat staff in Mogadishu. At first, the New York headquarters did little to remedy this situation. It was only in late 1956 that the Secretariat Division of Trusteeship asked to be informed of impending expert visits to Somaliland and for experts to be briefed on the special role and presence of the UN in the territory.[98]

As more and more agencies and countries—above all, the United States—became interested in extending technical assistance to Somaliland in the late 1950s, UN officials in Mogadishu continuously stressed the need for better coordination of international assistance on the ground.[99] U.S. assistance to Somalia dated to an Italian-American agreement in late 1954, which established a joint technical assistance fund. In August 1956, the UN Secretariat in Mogadishu noted that a large number of American experts were arriving in connection with Point IV aid. Relations between the UN officials and American representatives were at first quite cordial, with a hope of coordinating or even “dovetailing” the two technical assistance programs. By July 1958, cooperation was proceeding so well that the principal secretary of the UN mission in Mogadishu was concerned about not becoming too involved with the American operation, “since this might be misunderstood in certain circles.”[100]


While the UN provided no sense of overall direction or coordination of development efforts in Somaliland, AFIS was slow to introduce a comprehensive plan of its own. It was not that no initiatives existed, Jean de la Roche, then principal secretary of the UN mission in Mogadishu, reported in December 1953. But there was no definition of a general policy, no coordination between scattered plans and efforts.[101] When the Secretariat asked the administration for a simple overview of outside aid being provided to Somaliland, AFIS was unable to comply with the request. “The budget of the Territory can hardly be called a budget,” de la Roche noted.[102] No one knew the proportion of expenses devoted to education or social services—or perhaps, no Italian was willing to share the data. To inform the UN Advisory Council of the financial situation of the territory, the Secretariat had to make up its own budget estimate.[103]

The fact that a development plan did not emerge until 1954 provided a source of constant concern to government representatives at various UN intergovernmental organs, in particular the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee for Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories.[104] By late 1953, de la Roche reported that the necessity for economic development had also become “a lordre du jour” among educated Somalis and the population in general, as well as within administrative circles. There was no real economic crisis, but rather a psychological “malaise,” he diagnosed. Merchants reportedly displayed no confidence in the future of the territory, smuggling their capital abroad. Somali party leaders were thus becoming extremely concerned about creating a moral climate of confidence to prevent funds from leaving the country and also to attract new capital.[105]

On several occasions, the Trusteeship Council heard various delegations from Somaliland express the idea that support from international agencies was necessary to remedy this situation. The importance of material help from the UN and other nations was also a leitmotif of virtually all conversations between UN representatives in Mogadishu and Somalis. The latter—much like their Libyan contemporaries—were tired of seeing so many experts “roaming about,” de la Roche reported, of hearing so many speeches while no material help was forthcoming. Political independence after 1960, many Somalis concluded, would not mean much if people were starving.[106] It was in this context that representatives of the Somali Youth League leadership, once fiercely hostile to Italian rule, asked Italy to stay in Somaliland until the end of the trusteeship period and to provide post-independence assistance to the country. One of the SYL’s first official acts of government after winning the national democratic elections in a landslide victory in 1954 was to pass a motion that guaranteed the protection of foreign investments in Somalia after independence.[107]

In 1954, the Italian administration finally presented a seven-year development plan, first to the Somali Territorial Council (the national consultative organ) and then to the UN Trusteeship Council in New York.[108] The plan was ostensibly based on a report by Italian lawyer and politician Giovanni Malagodi that AFIS had commissioned in 1953.[109] Malagodi’s report, in turn, relied on a number of individual studies by AFIS personnel, the foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States International Cooperation Agency (ICA, later renamed the U.S. Agency for International Development or USAID), and various UN agencies. Much like the UN plan for Libya, the “Italian” development plan for Somaliland placed heavy emphasis on “improving” indigenous agriculture and animal husbandry, chiefly through the digging of wells and water catch basins, but also through the clearing of land, the construction of storage facilities, the provision of modern machinery, and the establishment of rural credit facilities. The remainder of the projected expenditures, about 20 percent of a total of $10 million, was to be spent on the upkeep of roads and ports.[110]

AFIS officials’ fears that the UN might find the plan, and the economic situation in the territory more generally severely lacking were well founded. The 1954 UN visiting mission, which had been briefed on the economic situation in the territory by South African UN staff member Edith Walton, severely criticized the “so-called plan.”[111] The final report of the mission noted that Malagodi’s plan was essentially “a catalogue of very useful public works” that lacked an overall assessment of the economic position of Somaliland and a year-by-year breakdown of developmental objectives to be achieved. Crucially, there was no detailed information as to how these public works would be financed. To the UN mission, it seemed “essential that a complete Development Plan should be prepared immediately with the assistance of highly qualified experts in each field.” Only with a proper appraisal of the economic situation and an outlook for 1960 and beyond would it be possible to seek substantial foreign assistance for the soon-to-be sovereign state.[112]

Other outsiders, too, found the Italian plan unconvincing. American economist Mark Karp, for example, examined the transformation of Somaliland into an independent state as a case study of “economic problems caused by anticolonialism in Africa” for his PhD thesis, which was published in 1960.[113] In Karp’s analysis, economic development was not the primary objective of Malagodi’s plan. The listed projects were, above all, designed to strengthen the subsistence sector and provide security for the indigenous population, even though this would bring only slow economic progress and no substantial changes to the structure of the economy. This choice, he suggested, was motivated by “non-economic” reasons: water projects, for example, were designed to induce a sedentary way of life, which, it was thought, would make the task of providing Somalis with a modern education easier. Without education, so ran the thinking, there could be no participation in the democratic process. Karp also argued that the Italian plan displayed “limited” development ambitions because of the looming independence date and the necessity to focus on projects that could be realized before 1960.

Karp was critical of the seemingly pervasive belief in planning as a tool that allowed politicians to overcome economic realities. At the same time, he warned against the belief that more could be accomplished by going to the other extreme, laissez-faire. Inspired by the work of the turn-of-the-century Austrian economist Eugen Böhm von Bawerk, Karp simply wished to insist that the attainment of economic objectives did not depend entirely on either human will or objective economic forces. The economic policies that he himself recommended for Somaliland were further investments in agriculture, technical research, and experimentation in hopes of making the country more productive. He advocated a trial-and-error process, which would necessarily entail failures and setbacks. Because he considered the Somali economy too weak to withstand violent shocks, he, too, argued that success depended on a large measure of international assistance, material as well as technical. Without such support, Karp opined, the decision to grant independence to the country in 1960 would be “tantamount to international dereliction.”[114]


At the 1954 session of the UN Trusteeship Council, AFIS asked the world organization for foreign capital assistance to finance development in the territory.[115] In response, the council referred the matter to the General Assembly, which in turn passed the baton to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), inviting it to send yet another mission of experts to study the situation and the possibilities of economic development in the trust territory.[116] It took the bank two years to produce a report on the matter, which was of rather limited help: it pointed out that, as Somalia approached independence, incentive for foreign capital to make new investments or expand old ones would decrease. At the time, the Bank itself only gave financially viable loans, so it excluded its own potential assistance, pointing out that, for Somalia, aid would have to come in the form of grants.[117]

In 1957, the IBRD report and its discussion in the Trusteeship Council was picked up in the U.S. press, including an opinion piece in the Milwaukee Journal titled “Attempt to Create a Nation Where There is No Nation.”[118] When the article was subsequently reprinted in the Corriere della Somalia, there was considerable concern among Somalis that it reflected the official position of the U.S. government. According to UN officials, many Somalis had hoped for American support for their state-building project in view of Washington’s pronounced worldwide goal of fighting communism and spreading democracy. Given the sorry state of the Somali economy and the bank’s prediction that it would depend on outside assistance for at least some twenty years, the Milwaukee Journal article argued that the UN decision to grant the territory sovereignty had been a mistake. Somaliland, the author concluded, was the perfect example of the “extreme ridicules” toward which the “irrational worship of the cult of nationalism” was dragging the modern world.[119]

A few days later, the Corriere printed a rebuttal of both the assumption that the Milwaukee Journal reflected the official position of Washington and of the arguments advanced in the opinion piece.[120] In a great democratic country like the foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States, freedom of speech and press had a long tradition, the article explained, and every newspaper was free to publish any opinions it desired. Everyone knew, the author continued, that with regard to foreign aid, no other country rivaled the foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States and that Washington, representing the largest among anticolonial countries, supported the political aspirations of former colonial peoples. The unnamed Corriere author argued that the Milwaukee Journal article was based on two mistakes. The first was to believe that a country could not achieve full political independence without economic self-sufficiency. Because most sovereign countries, including Italy, had been far from self-sufficient at independence, the assumption revealed gross historical ignorance. Historically, the Corriere insisted, material difficulties were overcome in time by “the moral unity of the people and the will and capacity of the ruling class.”[121]

Without denying the importance of economic facts, the author noted a tendency to dismiss Somalis as inferior on this basis, now that that the assumption of a hierarchy based on race was no longer “fashionable.” The article continued, “To the consolation of the obstinately reactionary and colonialist mentality has remained the so-called ‘economic factor’ that should indefinitely condemn us Somalis to not having what … we absolutely want.” It was this tone of bad faith in the discourse about the “poverty” of Somaliland that the author found the most irritating. But was it true that the country was indeed poor? Absolutely not, in the pessimistic, irredeemable sense suggested by many; including those arguing for Somaliland to be annexed by other countries.[122] The possibility of economic development, albeit limited, very much existed, the Corriere insisted. While the situation did not allow for excessive optimism, it certainly did not justify the excessive pessimism of the IBRD report, either. On the contrary: with appropriate investments and “suitable measures,” the author foresaw “vast possibilities of development in this country,” and—much like the UN report—emphasized especially the agricultural and livestock sectors.

In early 1958, the United States, Italy, and, to a much lesser extent, Great Britain decided to promise substantial post-independence financial aid to Somalia to assure its continued functioning and promote the country’s development. The promise was conditional, however, on the victory of “moderate,” in other words, pro-Western SYL politicians in the national election later that year.[123] Italy promised expenditures of $2 million (which would mostly circle back to “metropolitan” coffers through salaries for Italian experts and fellowships enabling Somalis to study in Italy); the foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States pledged $2.7 million and Britain $300,000.[124] At the time, rather than confronting a potential communist threat, U.S. interest in Somaliland was focused, above all, on containing the considerable anti-American Egyptian influence in the region.[125]

UN officials in Mogadishu were concerned that the strategy to make financial support conditional on electoral outcomes might backfire and play into the hands of Somali “extremists,” who would accuse any government backed by Western bilateral aid of continuing imperialism. “I wish the history of Irak [sic] should teach us a little bit,” UN principal secretary J. J. Cebe-Habersky noted in November 1958, expressing his hope that the General Assembly would recommend to channel financial assistance to Somalia into a multilateral fund under UN guidance—a proposal also supported by the Somali government, but that never came to pass.[126]


By early 1959 Italy had become increasingly anxious to disband its responsibilities in the Horn of Africa and petitioned the UN to advance the end of trusteeship for Somaliland by half a year.[127] Despite misgivings among some delegates, given the discouraging information relating to widespread poverty and illiteracy, continued tribal and boundary disputes, serious political repression of opposition parties, and limited and poorly developed resources, the General Assembly complied with the Italian request.[128] On July 1, 1960, the independent Somali Republic was born, presenting to social scientists of the day a “distressing picture.”[129] Economist Mark Karp concluded: “As an experiment in the feasibility of meeting nationalist aspirations in dependent areas by setting time limits for independence, trusteeship in Somalia must… be adjudged a failure.”[130]

Others rejected the assumption of a failed experiment of decolonization, a state that failed at birth. In response to Karp’s book, American political scientist Alphonso Castagno, who had studied the Italian colonies both in Italy and during an eighteen-month research trip to the Horn,[131] wrote: “No one seriously anticipated that at the end of ten years of trusteeship, Somalia would have a balanced budget, a favorable balance of payments, and an effective economy.” Castagno rejected the conclusion “that economic laws, being ‘logical laws,’ set limits to what politics can achieve and that transgression of these limits can impose adverse consequences.” More specifically, he rejected the argument that by granting political independence to Somaliland, the UN had in fact hindered the development of the territory. He, too, rejected the conclusion that—given the ostensible failure of the Somali experiment—in the future, political decision-makers needed to more seriously consider the role of economic forces before making “drastic political changes.” Pointing to W. W. Rostow’s “competently argued” theory on the stages of economic growth, Castagno insisted that the building of an effective, independent nation-state was a decisive aspect of a precondition period before the Somali “takeoff” into modernity could begin.[132]

Other reviewers simply took Karp’s book as a plea for a fuller study and understanding of the whole problem of development and for a wider recognition that there were limits to what could be achieved by political action in the field of economic development. Anthropologist I. M. Lewis, who has been referred to as the “doyen of Somali studies” and whose work was read by UN officials at the time, noted that until that point, in the “scramble for self-government” in Africa, economic considerations, which ultimately affected political autonomy, had simply not been adequately emphasized.[133] In a foreword to Castagno’s own treatise on Somalia, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1956, editor Anne Winslow presented a somber outlook: “Sovereignty… will be but another step in a long, hard road, with few economic resources to hold out a promise of future prosperity.”[134] The United Nations, which had taken a series of unprecedented steps in Somaliland during the period of official trusteeship, she predicted, might find itself with even graver responsibilities in the years ahead. In other words, although independence marked the official end of international trusteeship of the Somali state, in important ways it was also seen as a starting point. Ultimately, the end of the UN relationship framed Somalia as a nominally independent state which would be dependent on continued international development assistance for many years to come.

The debate about whether the Somali state could ever be “viable” continued beyond the trusteeship period and emerged in a new form in the 1990s, when the country came to be associated with ethnic warfare as well as abstract notions of “state failure” and “state collapse.” Apparently ignorant of the earlier iteration of the debate, many observers in the 1990s suggested that in 1960, the Somali Republic had looked like one of the “brightest stars” among newly independent African countries, “one of the true nations on the African continent” given its relatively homogenous culture and society.[135] While scholarly attention since has focused above all on theorizing “state collapse” and determined the role of the clan system as a cause of Somalia’s troubles in the 1990s, little attention has been paid to colonial legacies, the process of decolonization, and the construction of the postcolonial state in the 1950s—or the cautionary voices at the time of independence.[136] This is not to suggest that the Somali Republic was doomed to fail from the start, but rather to call attention to the serious challenges to the state’s functioning since its incipience, the haphazard way in which it was created, and the outsize responsibility that UN member states had for that process while lacking the necessary commitment to see to its success.

Though in many ways unique, the UN-mandated international state-building exercises in Libya and Somaliland shared many similarities beyond the imposition of a deadline for independence. In both cases, UN officials increasingly framed state-building as a technical challenge for international experts rather than as a political process—a notion that provided a useful argument for the colonial powers that had no interest in inviting a public discussion of developmental matters. This affected a distinct warming on the part of the administrators (especially the British and the French) toward the UN, which they had initially approached with great apprehension if not outright hostility. Italian authorities, at least those higher up in the political and administrative hierarchy, were less hesitant with regard to UN technical assistance, though they, too, rejected close cooperation with the World Organization in managing the day-to-day affairs of Somaliland. While Secretariat officials had hoped that UN experts would play a pivotal role in the decolonization of the former Italian colonies, helping to build their new government bureaucracies and directing national development, in both Libya and Somaliland they never assumed such a central, coordinating role.

Yet the UN emphasis on planning for development and investment in government personnel to use existing resources most effectively proved useful for deflecting attention from insufficient international material support for the states-in-the-making. Moreover, the UN recommendation for hands-on international technical assistance in governmental matters in both Libya and Somaliland—which was connected to UN assistance in Bolivia at the time—anticipated both Dag Hammarskjöld’s proposal for the provision of more expansive, standardized UN governmental assistance for newly independent countries more generally as well as his fateful blueprint for managing the Congo’s transition from colony to nation-state in 1960. Taken together, these efforts contributed to a new understanding of political sovereignty, according to which nation-states could farm out essential state services to international experts and depend on foreign financial assistance to pay for the state’s day-to-day operations.[137]


[1] Mark Karp, The Economics of Trusteeship in Somalia (Boston: Boston University Press, 1960), 11; Lawrence Finkelstein, “Castles in Spain: foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States Trusteeship Plans in World War II,” PhD thesis, Columbia University, 1970, 504.

[2] In 1945, when the foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States first entertained the idea of restoring the colonies to Italian authority under UN supervision, Ralph Bunche drafted a trusteeship agreement for Libya, Thomas Power one for Somaliland, and Lawrence Finkelstein one for Eritrea. Finkelstein wrote later that “none [of them] was especially expert with respect to any of the territories, and little help was to be anticipated on the Labor Day weekend,” on which they were given the task. Lawrence Finkelstein, “Bunche and the Colonial World: From Trusteeship to Decolonization,” in Ralph Bunche: The Man and His Times, ed. Benjamin Rivlin (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1990), 125.

[3] Benjamin Rivlin, The United Nations and the Italian Colonies (New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1950), 71.

[4] Rivlin, The United Nations and the Italian Colonies, 74.

[5] The UN staff in Mogadishu kept a detailed, though naturally biased record of this crucial period. To date, however, there has been no published scholarship on Somali history that draws on the fairly extensive UN archival sources reviewed for this chapter. The official records of the organization regarding Somaliland (the deliberations in the General Assembly, the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, and so on, as well as reports submitted to those organs), available at any UN depository library around the world, have also yet to be examined. Most fruitful, perhaps, would be an analysis of the manifold petitions that Somalis sent to the UN; those that were officially accepted by the Trusteeship Council also became part of the official published record of the UN

[6] Taylor Shore to Bunche, 23 September 1951, Ralph Bunche Papers (hereafter RB), B86, F15, University of California, Los Angeles (hereafter UCLA).

[7] Goro Deeb to Bunche, 19 May 1952, S-0723–0001–12, United Nations Archives and Records Management Section, New York City (hereafter UNARMS).

[8] See, e.g., Bunche to Jean de la Roche, 3 November 1953, S-0723–0001–13; Aleksander to de la Roche, 5 January 1954, S-0723–0002–01, UNARMS.

[9] Alphonso Castagno, Somalia (New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1959); Ioan Lewis, A Modern History of Somalia: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1988); Paolo Tripodi, The Colonial Legacy in Somalia: Rome and Mogadishu: From Colonial Administration to Operation Restore Hope (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999).

[10] French Somaliland was a colony from 1896 to 1946 and a French overseas territory until 1967, when it gained independence as Djibouti. Charles de Gaulle’s policies of “turning Somalis into Frenchmen” and alleged repression of political freedom were protested in Italian Somaliland by crowds of some 5,000 demonstrators. British Somaliland—which Secretariat officials described as “miserable” in comparison to poor Italian Somaliland—gained independence on 26 June 1960. It was then merged with, or rather swallowed by Italian Somaliland as the independent Somali Republic on 1 July 1960.

[11] Castagno, Somalia, 345. For the Investigative Commission as a survey of local opinion, see Chapter 6 in Scott Bills, The Libyan Arena: The foreign aid to hold on to power (Kaplan 2008, 146). Formerly an ally of the Soviet Union, Barre’s regime now was aligned to the United States, Britain, and the Council of Foreign Ministers, 1945–1948 (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1995). See also note 12 to chapter 2.

[12] At the time, some sixty-eight people died and close to 100 were wounded. Antonio Morone, “How Italy Returned to Africa: From the Loss of the Colonies to African Independence,” in Colonialism and National Identity, ed. Bartella Farnetti and C. Dau Novelli (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2015), 362. For Italian sponsorship of the Conferenza, see Urbano, “Imagining the Nation.”

[13] Lewis, A Modern History of Somalia; Paolo Tripodi, “Back to the Horn: Italian Administration and Somalia’s Troubled Independence,” Journal of Modern African Studies 32, no. 2/3 (1999): 359–80; Saul Kelly, Cold War in the Desert: Britain, the United States, and the Italian Colonies, 1945–52 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Morone, “How Italy Returned to Africa.”

[14] Morone, “How Italy Returned to Africa,” 136–37. AFIS officials, in turn, resented the appointment of career diplomats rather than colonial officers as chief administrators of the territory. De la Roche to Bunche, 29 December 1952, RB, B86, F16, UCLA.

[15] Lewis, A Modern History of Somalia, chapter 7; Urbano, “Imagining the Nation,” 134.

[16] A secretariat official thought the Italians, or rather the local police, had only themselves to blame for the incident because they refused to grant the SYL an interview with the acting administrator on his visit to town. See Shore to Bunche, 1 September 1952, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[17] Shore to Bunche, 1 September 1952, S-0723–0001–12, UNARMS.

[18] Tripodi, “Back to the Horn”; Urbano, “Imagining the Nation,” 134–35; Morone, “How Italy Returned to Africa.”

[19] Cary to Bunche, 29 May 1950, RB, B86, F16, UCLA.

[20] For further information, see Tamara Rachbauer, Egon Ranshofen-Wertheimer— Chronologie eines bewegten Lebens (Munich: Grinn, 2008).

[21] “Summary record of a meeting between the Secretary-General and the principal secretaries of UN field missions,” 8 October 1950, DO, B10, F3, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, New York City (hereafter RBML).

[22] UNACS A/AC.33/PV.1 15 October 1951 (Verbatim Record of 14th Meeting, 10 October 1951); Lucas to Cordier and Bunche, 11 October 1951, RB, B86, F15, UCLA.

[23] Shore reported that Lucas looked like “Death warmed over,” that he spent more time in the bathroom than out of it and battled with occasional bouts of asthma. Shore to Bunche, 15 April 1951, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[24] “Data relating to Complaints of the Italian Administration in Somaliland against Mr. Carpio,” RB, B86, F15, UCLA.

[25] Shore to Bunche, 1 May 1952; Deeb to Bunche, 11 May 1952, S-0723–0001–12, UNARMS.

[26] For Shore’s personal descriptions of Carpio, see Shore to Bunche 15 April 1951, 25 August 1951, 3 November 1951, 17 November 1951, 1 December 1951; for official accounts, see Shore to Bunche, 3 November 1952; De la Roche to Bunche, 1 December 1952, S-0723–0001–12, UNARMS. De la Roche to Bunche, 29 December 1952, RB, B86, F15, UCLA.

[27] Shore to Bunche, 23 September 1951, RB, B86, F15, UCLA.

[28] Shore to Bunche, 17 November 1951, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[29] According to Shore, Castello’s look (“protruding eyes,” “thin as a rail”) owed to his alcoholism, and he had become a social nuisance, arriving late and overstaying his welcome at cocktail parties. Shore to Bunche, 15 April 1951, 25 August 1951, 3 November 1951, 1 September 1952, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[30] Shore to Bunche, 21 September 1952, RB, B86, F15, UCLA.

[31] Shore to Heinz Wieschoff and B. Cohen, 5 May 1958, S-0723–0001–15, UNARMS.

[32] Shore to Bunche, 15 April 1951, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[33] Shore to Bunche, 19 November 1951, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[34] Shore to Bunche, 25 November 1951, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[35] De la Roche to Bunche, 26 October 1954, RB, B86, F15, UCLA; De la Roche to

Cohen, 5 November 1955, S-0723–0222–01, UNARMS. Apparently, Egyptian “campaigning” intensified with the arrival of Kamal al din-Salah in 1954. When Salah was murdered in April 1957, Hagi Mohamed Hussein, a founding member and former president of the ruling nationalist party, the Somali Youth League (who was on a fellowship in Cairo at the time), presented the assassination as a Western plot and denounced Italian, French, British, and especially American interference in Somalia in speeches and articles. He subsequently outpolled the pro-Italian “moderate” faction of the SYL and was reelected president of the party on July 28, 1957. His rhetoric alarmed the Western powers, who supported his ouster from the party by “moderate” SYL politicians. See Antonio Morone, “Somali Independence and Its Political Connections with Nasser’s Egypt,” in The Horn of Africa since the 1960s: Local and International Politics Intertwined, ed. Ylonen Aleksi and Jan Zahorik (Basingstoke: Routledge, 2017), 109–22.

[36] Provisional Record of the 46th Meeting of the Advisory Council, 28 November 1951, RB, B86, F15; Shore to Bunche, 23 September 1951, RB, B86, F15; Shore to Bunche, 21 January 1952, RB, B86, F15; “Problems Concerning the Advisory Council’s Functioning,” RB, B86, F16, UCLA.

[37] J.J. Cebe-Habersky to Protitch and Wieschoff, 17 October 1958, S-0723-0002-03, UNARMS.

[38] De la Roche to Aleksander, 24 December 1953, S-0723-0001-13, UNARMS.

[39] De la Roche to Bunche, 11 June 1953, S-0723-0001-13, UNARMS.

[40] Shore to Wieschoff and Cohen, 2 March 1957, S-0723-0002-01, UNARMS.

[41] Cebe-Habersky to Protitch and Wieschoff, 19 September 1958; Cebe-Habersky to Protitch and Wieschoff, 13 November 1958, S-0723-0002-03, UNARMS.

[42] UN Advisory Council: Observations of the Advisory Council concerning the New Draft Law on Political Elections, 22 November 1958; Cebe-Habersky to Protitch and Wieschoff, 27 November 1958, S-0723-0002-03, UNARMS.

[43] Cebe-Habersky to Protitch and Wieschoff, 24 October 1958, S-0723-0002-03, UNARMS.

[44] On the new electoral law, see Urbano, “Imagining the Nation,” 147–51.

[45] Cebe-Habersky to Wieschoff, 22 January 1959, S-0723-0002-03, UNARMS.

[46] Roche to Bunche, 31 January 1953, S-0723-0001–13; Cebe-Habersky to Syrovy, 10 July 1959, S-0723-0002–02; Shore to Wieschoff and Cohen, 2 February 1957, S-0723-0002–01, UNARMS.

[47] De la Roche to Bunche, 24 August 1953, S-0723–0001–13, UNARMS.

[48] For Shore’s account of the incident, see Shore to Bunche, 13 April 1952; for Deeb’s work see, e.g., Shore to Bunche, 17 November 1951, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[49] To prove his point about Somalis, Shore recounted that a local recruit, “a young Somali rascal,” who was influential in the SYL, had propositioned “the wife of one of our white guards.” “Naturally,” Shore wrote, “we fired him,” which the SYL protested. Shore to Bunche, 3 November 1951, RB 93, F13, UCLA.

[50] Shore to Bunche, 15 April 1951, 6 November 1952, RB, B93, F13, UCLA.

[51] C. K. Robinson to Bunche, 29 May 1950, RB, B85, F16, UCLA; Shore to Bunche, 3 March 1952, S-0723-0001-12; De la Roche to Bunche, 3 January 1953, S-0723-0001-12; De la Roche to Bunche, 7 January 1954, S-0723-0001-13; de la Roche to Bunche, 1 December 1952, S-0723-0001-12, UNARMS.

[52] “Problems Concerning the Advisory Council’s Functioning,” RB, B86, F16, UCLA.

[53] Rules governing the Co-operation of the United Nations Advisory Council for the Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian Administration in Matters of Petitions, 20 October 1950, RB, B86, F16, UCLA.

[54] Earlier, de la Roche had appealed to headquarters to appoint Lakhdari as acting principal secretary during his own leave, writing that “he is exactly the kind of man the Somali population would like to see with us.” De la Roche to Aleksander, 30 December 1953, S-0723-0001–13; De la Roche to Bunche, 1 December 1952, S-0723-0001–12, UNARMS.

[55] Shore to Wieschoff and Cohen, 5 May 1958, S-0723–0001–15, UNARMS.

[56] Castagno, Somalia, 349.

[57] The initial appointees were twenty-one clan leaders, seven representatives of political parties (four from members of the pro-Italian umbrella association Conferenza per la Somalia and three from the Somali Youth League), two from the commercial class, two of the Italian community, two of the Arab/Yemeni community, and one from the Indo-Pakistani community. Urbano, “Imagining the Nation,” 142–43.

[58] Lawrence Finkelstein, Somaliland under Italian Administration: A Case Study in United Nations Trusteeship. (New York: Woodrow Wilson Foundation, 1955), 14.

[59] Urbano, “Imagining the Nation,” 147–51.

[60] Castagno, Somalia; Urbano, “Imagining the Nation,” 144.

[61] Castagno, Somalia; Urbano, “Imagining the Nation.”

[62] Finkelstein, Somaliland under Italian Administration, 22.

[63] For Italy’s international repositioning in the postwar years, see Silvia Salvatici, “Between National and International Mandates: Displaced Persons and Refugees in Postwar Italy,” Journal of Contemporary History 49, no. 3 (2014): 514–36.

[64] Michele Alacevich, “Postwar Development in the Italian Mezzogiorno: Analyses and Policies,” Journal of Modern Italian Studies 18 (2013): 90–112.

[65] Tripodi, The Colonial Legacy in Somalia, 61.

[66] Memo, “Technical Assistance to Somaliland under Italian Administration,” 16 February 1951, RB, B86, F16, UCLA.

[67] “Technical Assistance to Somaliland under Italian Administration.”

[68]  “Dean, William H. (1910–1952)” at–1952.html (last accessed 3 April 2016).

[69] Sunil Amrith and Glenda Sluga, “New Histories of the United Nations,” Journal of World History 19, no. 3 (2008): 251–74. Also see chapter 1 of this book for a brief discussion of the Haiti mission.

[70] Carter Goodrich to David Weintraub, 8 August 1950, CG, B44, F11; Goodrich to David Owen, 29 August 1950, CG, B44, F10, RBML.

[71] A public health expert had been added to the originally envisioned three economists. Dean to Caustin, 28 May 1951, RB, B85, F8, UCLA.

[72] Dean to Caustin, 28 May 1951, RB, B85, F8, UCLA.

[73] Dean to Goodrich, 5 July 1951, CG, B44, F11, RBML.

[74] Dean’s mission included the following members: W. Bond, an agronomist from FAO; Dr. V. Caffari, a public health expert from WHO; G. Feral, an expert in social development and nomadic questions; A. Fielding-Clarke, an “educationalist” from UNESCO; J. Pechanec, an expert in livestock and range management from FAO and D. Johnston, the only women on the team, as administrative assistant and secretary. See “United Nations Advisory Council for the Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian Administration: Draft Report of the Advisory Council for the Period of 1 April 1951 to 31 March 1952.” RB, B86, F15, UCLA.

[75] Dean, Somaliland: First Progress Report, 19 September 1951, ST/TAA/F/Somaliland/R.1, GX 26/14, B2596, J4, UNOG.

[76] De la Roche to Bunche, 10 December 1953, S-0723-0001-13, UNARMS.

[77] Dean, Somaliland: First Progress Report, 19 September 1951, ST/TAA/F/Somaliland/R.1, GX 26/14, B2596, J4, UNOG.

[78] Dean, Somaliland: Second Progress Report, 24 October 1951, ST/TAA/F/Somaliland/R.2, GX 26/14, B2596, J4, UNOG.

[79] Shore to Bunche, 23 September 1951, RB, B86, F15, UCLA. Ten years later, on the eve of Somali independence, Bunche himself would feel no more sympathy than Dean toward the Italian administration and described the administrator with the following words: “Di Stefano is a fat, fatuous, unpleasant civilian, who is generally regarded as a tragedy for Somaliland.” Brian Urquhart, Ralph Bunche: An American Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1993), 300.

[80] Shore also noted that, for some reason, Dean and principal secretary Lucas “didn’t hit it off too well together either,” speculating, without going into further details, that this might have had to do with “protocol.” Shore to Bunche, 23 September 1951, RB, B86, F15, UCLA.

[81] Dean, Somaliland: Second Progress Report, 24 October 1951, ST/TAA/F/Somaliland/R.2, GX 26/14, B2596, J4, UNOG.

[82] Dean, Somaliland: Second Progress Report, 24 October 1951, ST/TAA/F/Somaliland/R.2, GX 26/14, B2596, J4, UNOG.

[83] Castagno, Somalia, 379.

[84] They discussed possible support from the International Bank (of Reconstruction and Development), the Bank of Italy, the Bank of Naples, and the Currency Board. Dean, Somaliland: Second Progress Report, 24 October 1951, ST/TAA/F/Somaliland/R.2, GX 26/14, B2596, J4, UNOG.

[85] In a letter to Shore, Bunche described Dean’s death as a terrible tragedy, but in a sense inevitable, because he had never learned to unwind. Bunch to Shore, 23 January 1952, RB, B93, F13, UCLA. No other reasons for Dean’s suicide were provided in the press or his obituaries. See, e.g., “Channing Tobias’ Son in Law, William Dean Commits Suicide,” Jet 24 January 1952. W. M. Brewer, “William Henry Dean,” The Journal of Negro History 38, no. 1 (1953): 134–36.

[86] The Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian Administration: Report (hereafter Dean Report Somaliland) (New York: United Nations Technical Assistance Administration, 1952).

[87] Dean Report Somaliland.

[88] Dean Report Somaliland; Annalisa Urbano, “A ‘Grandiose Future for Italian Somalia’: Colonial Developmentalist Discourse, Agricultural Planning, and Forced Labor (1900– 1940),” International Labor and Working-Class History 92 (2017): 69–88.

[89] Tripodi, The Colonial Legacy in Somalia.

[90] Castagno, Somalia, 351. Shore to Wieschoff and Cohen, 7 January 1957, S-0723– 0001–01, UNARMS.

[91] Castagno, Somalia; Lewis, A Modern History of Somalia; Tripodi, The Colonial Legacy in Somalia. According to UN documents, it was only in August 1957 that Rome assured Mogadishu of its continued support until 1960. Chudson to Wieschoff, 13 August 1957, S-0723–0003–05, UNARMS.

[92] Castagno, Somalia, 364.

[93] Castagno, Somalia, 364.

[94] Castagno, Somalia, 366. Comments on UNESCO report, 24 October, S-1559-0000-01; also see Wieschoff to Shore, 22 October 1956, S-0723-0003-05, and Shore to Wieschoff and Cohen, 5 November 1956, S-1559-0000-01, UNARMS.

[95] Castagno, Somalia, 373.

[96] Syrovy to Cebe-Habersky, S-0723–0018–10, 30 June 1959, UNARMS.

[97] Wieschoff to Shore, 8 October 1956, S-0723-0003-05; “Trip through Mudugh and Midjertain Regions, 29 January—6 February 1959,” S-0723-0002-03; Cebe-Habersky to Wieschoff and Protitch, 14 April 1959, S-0723-0002-03, UNARMS.

[98] Cohen to Owen, 30 November 56, S-1559-0000-01; Shore to Wieschoff, 5 November 1956, S-0723-0002-01, UNARMS.

[99] Chudson to Shore, 3 March 1958, and Shore to Wieschoff, 3 July 1958, S-0723-0001-15, UNARMS.

[100] See “United Nations Mission to Trust Territories in East Africa, 1954: Report on the Trust Territory of Somaliland,” S-1563–0000; Karakacheff to Cohen, 1 August 1956, S-0723–0002–01; Chudson to Wieschoff and Cohen, 3 September 1957, S-0723– 0001–15; Shore to Wieschoff and Cohen, 2 October 1957, S-0723–0001–15; Shore to Wieschoff, 3 July 1958, S-0723–0001–15, UNARMS.

[101] Tripodi similarly suggests that Italian developmental policies were marked by confusion and improvisation rather than a strategy to restore the prewar situation. Tripodi, “Back to the Horn.”

[102] De la Roche to Aleksander, 2 December 1953, S-0723-0001-13. The 1954 UN visiting mission to Somaliland drew a similar conclusion. See United Nations Mission to Trust Territories in East Africa, 1954: Report on the Trust Territory of Somaliland,” S-1563-0000, UNARMS.

[103] De la Roche to Aleksander, 27 November 1953, S-0723-0001-13, UNARMS.

[104] Finkelstein, Somaliland under Italian Administration, 22.

[105] De la Roche to Bunche, 17 September 1953; de la Roche to Aleksander, 27 November 1953, S-0723-0001-13, UNARMS.

[106] De la Roche to R. Bunche, 17 September 1953; de la Roche to B. Aleksander, 27 November 1953, S-0723-0001-13, UNARMS.

[107] Tripodi, “Back to the Horn,” 372.

[108] As a “face-saving measure,” the Advisory Council received the report a few days before the Trusteeship Council did. De la Roche to Aleksander, 20 April 1954, S-0723-0002-01, UNARMS.

[109] Mark Karp maintains that it is unclear to what degree Malagodi’s study influenced the plan, despite official claims, as some of Malagodi’s principal recommendations were not included. Karp suggests that the ICA played an important role in determining the priorities of the plan. Karp, The Economics of Trusteeship in Somalia, 124.

[110] Karp, The Economics of Trusteeship in Somalia, 123–25.

[111] Unfortunately, there is very little information about Walton. When she passed away in August 1955, principal secretary de la Roche showered her with praise, while conceding that she had caused irritation in some quarters. “United Nations Visiting Mission to Trust Territories in East Africa, 1954: Report on the Trust Territory of Somaliland,” chapter 3, “Economic Advancement: Economic Development,” S-1563-0000; de la Roche to Cohen, 9 August 1955, S-0723-0002-01, UNARMS.

[112] Bunche to de la Roche, 22 September 1953, S-0723-0001-13, UNARMS.

[113] Karp, The Economics of Trusteeship in Somalia.

[114] Karp, The Economics of Trusteeship in Somalia.

[115] See statements made by the Administering Authority of Somaliland and the two vice-presidents of the Territorial Council in Official Records of the Trusteeship Council, Fourteenth Session, 528th and 530th meetings. Also see Territorial Council’s motion of 4 January 1954 T/1116, annex.

[116] See General Assembly resolution “Financing of the economic development plans of the Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian Administration,” 14 December 1954, A/Res/855(IX); and Trusteeship Council resolution “Financing the economic development plans of the Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian Administration,” 7 July 1954, T/Res/1001(XIV).

[117] Castagno, Somalia, 379, 383. IBRD, The Economy of the Trust Territory of Somalia, Report of January 1957, paragraph 210. Reproduced as United Nations Trusteeship Council, Official Records (TCOR): 20th Sess., Annexes, Agenda item 11.

[118] A predecessor of today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Milwaukee Journal established itself as a leading voice of Midwestern liberalism beginning in the late 1930s and its articles won several Pulitzer Prizes during that period. At its peak in the early 1960s, the journal sold between 400,000 and 600,000 copies daily.

[119] The article was first published in the Milwaukee Journal and then reprinted in the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune before it was picked up by the Corriere della Somalia. In Italian, the final quote reads: „La Somalia e l’esempio perfetto dei ridicoli estremi ai quali l’irragionavole culto practico nel Santuario del nazionalismo sta trascinando il mondo moderno.” See “Tenativo di creare una nazione dove non esiste nazione,” Corriere dell Somalia clipping; Chudson to Wieschoff & Cohen, 3 September 1957, S-0723–0001–15, UNARMS.

[120] “A proposito della ‘poverta’ della Somalia” clipping from Corriere della Somalia Anno VII—Numero 192, no date, S-0723–0001–15, UNARMS.

[121] “A proposito della ‘poverta’ della Somalia” clipping.

[122] The reference likely referred to a recent article in the Journal of Middle Eastern Affairs, which, according to UN officials, was said to advocate Somali federation with Ethiopia. Chudson to Wieschoff and Cohen, 3 September 1957, S-0723–0001–15, UNARMS.

[123] Morone, “Somali Independence and Its Political Connections,” 115.

[124] The exact figures of Italian foreign assistance are somewhat contradictory: UN documents suggest that Italy promised $1,500,000 to pay for 150 Italian technicians as well as 80 to 100 scholarships to Italy, and $500,000 as a budget contribution. Morone suggests that Italy promised 250 technicians, 80–100 scholarships, and $2 million. Tripodi suggests that Italy offered $1.5 million for 300 Italian experts, $200,000 for scholarships, and $300,000 as a budget contribution. Cebe-Habersky to Protitch and Wieschoff, 17 October 1958, S-0723-0002-03; Tripodi, The Colonial Legacy in Somalia; Morone, “Somali Independence and Its Political Connections with Nasser’s Egypt,” 116.

[125] The Secretariat reported that the British were also concerned about the Soviet Union, as well as Egypt, gaining influence through UN technical assistance. Shore to Protitch and Wieschoff, 8 August 1958, S-0723-0001–15; Shore to Wieschoff, 29 August 1958, S-0723-0003–05, UNARMS. For Egyptian interests in Somaliland, see Morone, “Somali Independence and Its Political Connections”; for the late 1970s and early 1980s, see Donna Jackson, Jimmy Carter and the Horn of Africa: Cold War Policy in Ethiopia and Somalia (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006); Donna Jackson, “The Carter Administration and Somalia,” Diplomatic History 31, no. 4 (2007): 703–21.

[126] Cebe-Habersky to Wieschoff and Protitch, 24 October 1958, S-0723-0002-03, UNARMS.

[127] Secretariat officials, by contrast, considered slowing down the transfer of power. Cebe-Habersky to Protitch, 7 April 1959, S-0723-0002-03, UNARMS.

[128] Anthony Reyner, “Somalia: The Problems of Independence,” The Middle East Journal 14, no. 3 (1960): 247.

[129] Reyner, “Somalia: The Problems of Independence,” 255.

[130] Alphonso Castagno, “Review of ‘The Economics of Trusteeship’ by Mark Karp,” Middle East Journal 15, no. 4 (1961): 171.

[131] On a Fulbright grant in 1949–1950, Castagno studied the history of the former Italian colonies at the University of Florence. In 1957 and 1958 he spent eighteen months in the Somali regions of the Horn of Africa on a Ford Foundation grant. In 1959, Castagno worked as a lecturer in the Department of Public Law and Government at Columbia University. He later became director of the African Studies Center at Boston University.

[132] Castagno, “Review of ‘The Economics of Trusteeship’”; on Rostow and modernization theory, see Nils Gilman, Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).

[133] Ioan Lewis, “Review of ‘The Economics of Trusteeship’ by Mark Karp,’” Journal of the International African Institute 31, no. 2 (1961): 190; Jan M. Haakonsen, “In Memory of I. M. Lewis,” Nomadic Peoples 18, no. 2 (2014): 1–9. For UN officials’ reference to Lewis’s work, see Comments on UNESCO report, 24 October, S-1559-0000-01, UNARMS.

[134] Castagno, Somalia.

[135]  Alex de Waal, “The Wrong Lessons,” Boston Review 1 December 2003. http://; Urbano, “Imagining the Nation,” 4–5.

[136] Urbano, “Imagining the Nation,” 4–13. For a similar argument with regard to the scholarly lack of attention to postcolonial state-building and, in particular, administrative and economic histories, see Alden Young, Transforming Sudan: Decolonization, Economic Development and State Formation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

[137] For a similar description, see Gregory Mann, From Empires to NGOs in the West African Sahel: The Road to Nongovernmentality (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Chapter 2  Chapter 4 will follow