Is the Ethiopia-Somaliland deal the crucial breakthrough that will lead to broader recognition and even UN membership?
Prof James Ker-Lindsay
On January 1, 2024, Ethiopia and Somaliland signed a significant agreement granting Ethiopia access to the Red Sea in exchange for potential recognition of Somaliland’s independence. The deal is seen as a momentous development for Somaliland, which has been internationally isolated since declaring independence from Somalia three decades ago. But is it the crucial breakthrough that will lead to broader recognition and even UN membership?
Located in the Horn of Africa, Somaliland has a population of around 6 million, predominantly ethnically Somali and Sunni Muslim. Its modern history involves a short-lived independence in 1960, followed by a problematic union with Italian Somaliland, leading to conflicts and eventual reclamation of independence in 1991. Despite building a stable state with democratic institutions, Somaliland struggled for recognition. The recent agreement with Ethiopia, while celebrated by Somalilanders, raises legal and political questions.
Although the deal implies recognition, the exact terms remain undisclosed, and Ethiopia has not officially acknowledged Somaliland. The agreement’s potential geopolitical consequences, including strained relations with Somalia, are significant. Somalia strongly opposes the deal and has hinted at military options, complicating the situation.
While many in Somaliland rejoice, Ethiopia’s recognition may face obstacles due to geopolitical complexities and may not necessarily lead to broader international acceptance of Somaliland. Despite initial optimism, the deal’s long-term impact remains uncertain.
00:00 Introduction and Titles
00:52 Somaliland and Recognition in International Relations
02:21 Somaliland: Location and Population
03:06 The Modern History of Somaliland
04:57 Somaliland’s Search for Recognition: From Colony to State
06:43 The Ethiopia-Somaliland Memorandum of Understanding
07:37 Has Ethiopia Recognized Somaliland?
09:27 Somalia’s Response to the Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU
11:40 International Reactions to the Memorandum
14:09 Somaliland’s Crucial Breakthrough?
*SOURCES AND FURTHER READING*
Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://mfa.govsomaliland.org/
Prime Minister of Ethiopia https://pmo.gov.et/
President of Somalia https://villasomalia.gov.so/en/
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