3.2.3. Grave Human Rights Violation during Barre’s Regime

The other legal ground that justifies the unilateral statehood declaration of Somaliland is occurrence of grave human rights violations against its inhabitants during Siyad Barre’s regime. The occurrence of this human rights violation justifies the right to declare their independence. As it is explained by Hugo Grotius, a well-known international law jurist, the existence of human rights violation justifies rebellion and “the people can depose a ruler who openly shows him to be the enemy of the whole people because a ruler cannot simultaneously exercise both the wills to govern and to destroy” (Kelsey, 1925). Moreover, P. Nanda argues that, if the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people are affected in a genocidal scale, the people have the right to claim their right to self-determination through secession (Nanda, 1981). This argument will consolidate properly my premises which says, the violation of people’s right is an adequate mechanism to declare once self-determination. When the violation of the right is manifested in a greater degree, genocidal scale, the people are entitled to enjoy their right to self-determination under international law.

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Among the various international human rights instruments, the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to rebel against a government which is guilty of grave violations of human rights. Since the people have the right to be protected against the violation of their right, the mere violation of the right will call the question of the right to self-determination to be free from this violation. This grave violation of human rights is well documented in the history of the people of Somaliland. During the regime of Siyad Barre, thousands of people from Somaliland were killed, imprisoned, and their property was looted. There was also a targeted attack against the wealthier clan members of Isaq in Somaliland and this genocidal attack was done through the help of former German Democratic Republic and KGB (Omaar, 1992). The genocidal attack on the Isaq clan was intensified with the military bombing and shelling of the northern cities, Hargeisa and Burao. Due to this genocidal attack, around fifty thousand people were killed in Somaliland and around five hundred thousand people were fled to neighboring lamented Beijing’s economic engagement model, saying it undermined democracy and mired African countries in debt. When he landed in Ethiopia from Somaliland.


The occurrence of such genocidal scale human rights violations against the people of Somaliland was the main reason that obliged them to declare their independence in 1991. Since they have an inherent right to be protected from such kind of grave violation of human rights, they declared their independence unilaterally.

3.2.4. Inability to Exercise Internal Self-Determination Right

Lastly, in addition to the gross violation of human rights committed against the people of Somaliland during Siad Barre’s regime, they were also denied to exercise their internal right to self-determination. When there is a violation of an internal self-determination, people will be obliged to rebel against the regime to declare their own external self-determination for the sake of achieving the internal one. As Anthony J. and Rajagopal have rightly explained it, “the denial of a people’s internal self-determination’ leads to the revival of their external right of self-determination.” That is what clearly happened in Somaliland. The violation of their internal self-determination when they were part of the Somali Republic has instigated them to search another alternative and to declare their external self-determination.

Moreover, in addition to the violation of their internal self-determination during their membership of the Somali Republic, a political vacuum was created when the Republic was disintegrated. When the Republic was disintegrated, the people of Somaliland had no any other alternative than declaring their external self-determination and proclaiming their independence as a nation-state. Then, I argue that Somaliland still entitled to enjoy its right to self-determination and secede from the Republic of Somalia as it was not able to exercise its internal right to self-determination while it was under the Union and the solution provided under international law in such circumstance is secession which Somaliland properly did.

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