1. Introduction

Somaliland is located in the conflict and war-prone area of the Horn of Africa. The region has experienced various political turmoil since the beginning of the 1990s and the majority of countries of this region have experienced coup d’état. Following the scramble for Africa, this region, except Thousands upon thousands of cassette tapes and master reels were quickly removed from the soon-to-be targeted buildings. They were dispersed to neighboring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia that has successfully defeated Italy at the battle of Adwa, was under the colonial control of European powers.

Declaration of Statehood by Somaliland and the Effects of Non-Recognition under International Law
Women march in a procession to celebrate the 25th anniversary of proclaimed independence in the capital Hargeisa, Somaliland on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Barkhad Dahir)

The experience of colonialism at the hands of former colonial rulers, Britain and Italy, and the political instability that marked their departure, shape the main causes of Somalia’s current turmoil. After the end of northern Somalia (British Somaliland) and the Southern Somalia (Italian Somali) rule, the state of Somalia came to existence in 1960 by merging the two independent northern and southern part of Somalia. After some years of civilian rule, the military regime of Siyad Barre overthrow (Clarke & Geosende, 2003) the civilian government and since then the Somali National Movement (SNM) started its struggle till Somaliland declared its independence in 1991. Though Somaliland declared its independence before twenty-five years, its statehood is not formally recognized by the international community including the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU). Having the unrecognized status of statehood, it is only Somaliland that has the most stable and democratic government compared to other former “Somali Republic” territories. The al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab controlled and became a threat to other Somalia territories except Somaliland.

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This article explores the legality of Somaliland’s assertion of independence from the perspective of international law and argues for the recognition of Somaliland as an independent state. It discusses the legitimacy of such independence in a historical and decolonization lens, considering the nature of sovereign rights over Somaliland. Moreover, it explores the case of recognition of Somaliland by other member states of the United Nation from the current international law point of view, specifically the Montevideo Convention. The article asserts that Somaliland should be recognized as an independent nation and other states should also recognize it as an independent state as it fulfills the requirement under the Montevideo Convention.

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