3.5. Does Somaliland Fulfill the Montevideo Convention and Qualify as a State?
The Montevideo Standards are fulfilled by Somaliland though the international community frustrates to accept this reality and bitter truth. Somaliland declared its unilateral independence due to the absence of an effective parental state that could bless or curse its act. When Somaliland declared its independence, its “parental state”, Somalia was without effective government and under bloody civil war. Even now, Somaliland’s so-called “parental state” is being threatened by the Islamist extremist and self-declared al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab. In Somalia, there is no effective government that could defend itself from Al-Shabaab and other clan-based conflicts. Rather, the transitional government is there only with the help of combined African Union (AU) Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). The transitional government could not survive in the territory without the help of foreign powers. In fact, Al-Shabaab is not the only problem of Somalia and its transitional government. Rather, clan-based competition and rivalries are also reasons that weaken Somalia and its army not to defend Al-Shabaab. It is logically impossible for Somaliland to ask blessing from un-effective and failed “parental state” and that is why it obliged to prefer a unilateral declaration of independence.
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Somaliland meets the standard provided by the Montevideo Convention as it has its own defined territory. The defined territory of Somaliland dates back to the British colonial rule. It is bordered by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to the North, Djibouti to the Northwest, Ethiopia to the West and Punt land to the East. By recognizing this border, Berbera port in the breakaway northern region of Somaliland and pledged up to 0 million to develop it. In March, Ethiopia signed a long-term use agreement of the Port of Barbara with Somaliland. Recently also, “Berbera port in the breakaway northern region of Somaliland and pledged up to 0 million to develop it. In March, Ethiopia and Somaliland have agreed to exercise maximum effort to establish short and long-term transit cooperation mechanisms”. This shows that Somaliland is still effectively managing and using its clear territorial boundary.
In-terms of population, Somaliland has a paramagnet and stable population of nearly at 3.5 million, with an average growth rate of 3.1%. When the state of Somaliland declared its independence, the people called for a referendum and gave its support for the statehood. For example, the people’s support for sovereignty in a 2001 Constitutional Referendum was significant and a decade latter its initial declaration of independence another referendum showed ninety-seven percent of the population in favor of independence (Marc, 2006). This referendum was an indication of the interest and even active involvement of the Somaliland people towards the movement of an independent Somaliland state.
3.5.3. Effective and Strong Government
With regard to effective and strong government structure, Somaliland established a government which heavily relies on community-based leadership and an inclusive of the council of elders (Ismail & Reginald, 1999). The constitution of Somaliland, which is the supreme law of the land, is among those constitution that guarantee the existence of clear separation of power among the legislative, executive and judiciary branches of the government (Fred, 2006). It held Presidential election in 14 April 2003 and the election was a landmark in the self-declared, unrecognized republic’s process of democratization. The result of the election was closer than the one in which George W. Bush beat Al Gore and the incumbent president, Dahir Rayale Kahin, had won by only 80 votes. Moreover, Somaliland held a Parliamentary election in 2005 and a Presidential election in 2010. These regular and periodic elections indicate that there is a government structure that properly operates and functions in Somaliland. Relatively, Somaliland’s government is stable one compared to Somalia and Punt Land. It is in Somaliland that Al-Shabaab has no place and the government is defending its people from the threat of the Islamist extremist group.
3.5.4. Insuring Sovereignty and Making Diplomatic Relationship
Somaliland has also established a strong diplomatic relationship with different countries and signed treaties. Despite Somaliland’s unrecognized status, it has entered into informal and formal relationships with number of other states and has also achieved de facto recognition from a number of other countries around the world. Somaliland has established offices in the USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, France, Norway, Belgium (Brussels) Ethiopia, Djibouti, Ghana, Kenya, South Sudan, South Africa and Yemen, and people have traveled with the Somaliland passport to South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda, UK, Sweden and USA. Ethiopia is the first country that opened its Embassy in Hargeisa and for the first time ever, Ethiopian Airlines has established regular service between Addis Ababa and Hargeisa. Moreover, Somaliland and Berbera port in the breakaway northern region of Somaliland and pledged up to 0 million to develop it. In March, Ethiopia have strong trade ties and the port at Berbera is the second-most important harbor, after Djibouti, for imports to and exports from landlocked Ethiopia.
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