“Somaliland Is A Great Story.. It Should Be Recognized” U.S. Scholars

Some self-determination movements have inspired the world, while others have provoked humanitarian and economic crises, and sometimes prolonged warfare. To analyze what contributes to better outcomes and worse ones,

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“Somaliland Is really a great story… It should be recognized as an independent sovereign state. Somaliland has been relatively stable, governs itself. It is operated that way for 27 years and Somaliland is a perfect example”


Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia and Dr. Terrence Lyons, Associate Professor, George Mason University have expressed that Somaliland’s recognition will decrease violence in the region and will allow the country to become more normalized.

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This was part of a panel discussion for the new book of “Independence Movements and Their Aftermath: Self-Determination and the Struggle for Success” by Jon B. Alterman and Will Todman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

This event is made possible through general support to CSIS.

With a keynote address by Dr. Denise Natali, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, Department of State.

Independence Movements and Their AftermathDr. Jon Alterman will moderate a panel discussion with Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia and Dr. Terrence Lyons, Associate Professor, George Mason University.

A transcript of the contents about the Somaliland case.

Somaliland Is A Great Story.. It Should Be Recognized As An Independent Sovereign State
Terrence Lyons is an associate professor of conflict resolution at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University.

Dr. Terrence Lyons, Associate Professor, George Mason University

31: 35 (Video time)

Somaliland has been relatively stable, governs itself. It is ignored largely in some ways, not for good reason but has had the impact of the non-interference in Somaliland – the northern part of Somalia – is probably been good for Somaliland stability.

Somaliland Is A Great Story.. It Should Be Recognized As An Independent Sovereign State
Dr. Bashir Goth (Standing right), the Somaliland Representative in the United States

Dr. Bashir Goth, the Somaliland Representative in the United States

01:05:34 (Video time)

My name is Bashir Goth, I’m representative of Somaliland in Washington DC. I was reading your book last night on page 145 I have seen that you have written Somaliland has fulfilled all the theoretical standards of statehood and that is correct in my opinion. Over the last 27 years, Somaliland has been peaceful, stable and democratic. Actually, we can say a model in the region. Somaliland is a very strategic place across the Bab el-Mandeb in a volatile region is a very peaceful region. It contributes to the stability and peace in the whole region and I think that is to the interests of the United States because it prevents terrorism and piracy from the whole region. Don’t you think that lack of meaningful engagement will bring instability instead of engagement?

Somaliland Is A Great Story.. It Should Be Recognized As An Independent Sovereign State
Peter Galbraith is a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and Vermont state senator.

Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia

01:08:51 (Video time)

Well, let me take the case of Somaliland first. Of course, it should be recognized as an independent sovereign state. It is operated that way for 27 years and Somaliland is a perfect example of the kind of absurdity of a policy that is based on the preserving the territorial integrity of a state that actually doesn’t exist that is Somalia within the borders on the map.

Somaliland Is A Great Story.. It Should Be Recognized As An Independent Sovereign State
Terrence Lyons is an associate professor of conflict resolution at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University.

Dr. Terrence Lyons, Associate Professor, George Mason University

01:11:33 (Video time)

Somaliland is a lovely spot, and I would be happy to go into. I do want to say a word on Somaliland though because I do think that’s a couple of different principles that we worth teasing out one question is do they have the attributes of statehood  and we’ve gone back to that and I think that’s the reference in the book that there is a people in a region and so forth. But the other criteria is, will recognition increase or decrease violence? That is the other criteria. I think it’s a case to be made for Somaliland that recognition will decrease violence and it will allow a country to become more normalized.

The U.S. position I think the most of the international community is that they’re not going to recognize Somaliland until the Africa Union recognizes Somaliland. They’re not going to go against the African Union’s position because in our business as much as it’s their business and so I’m not sure that is the end of the debate because it leaves the U.S. policy and European policy you know the prevented limits the options because of what the Africa Union in its own wisdom wishes to do. But it is also put Somaliland in a kind of a difficult position then get deep into the weeds here. But Somaliland was British Somaliland while the rest of Somalia was Italian Somaliland. And they actually were two difference independence processes and so from a very narrow international legal point of view, you could say this is self-determination. The Somalilanders and Somalis merged but now they want a divorce and can’t one-party divorce if that party wishes to divorce or can the other party say no you can’t divorce you must remain part of me and that is a difficult position. I think to take internationally. By the way, Somaliland is really a great story.

Watch the full discussion in the above video


About the scholars 

Peter Galbraith is a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and Vermont state senator. Prior to his 2010 election to the Vermont Senate, Amb. Galbraith served as the deputy UN envoy to Afghanistan in 2009. Previously, he advised Kurdish leaders during the Iraqi constitutional process from 2003 to 2005. He also served as director for political, constitutional, and electoral affairs of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor from 2000 to 2001. From 1993 to 1998, Amb. Galbraith served as ambassador to Croatia where he worked on the Croatian and Bosnian peace processes. In 1995, he helped mediate the Erdut Agreement that ended the war in Croatia. From 1979 to 1993, he was a senior adviser on the Near East and South Asia and international organizations on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is the author of The End of Iraq and Unintended Consequences. Ambassador Galbraith received a J.D. from Georgetown Law Center, an M.A. from Oxford University, and an A.B. from Harvard College.

Terrence Lyons is an associate professor of conflict resolution at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. His research focuses on comparative peace processes and post-conflict politics, with a regional emphasis on Africa. He has written or co-written five books and co-edited a further four. He has consulted with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and key think tanks. He was the senior adviser to the Carter Center in Liberia and Ethiopia. In March 2017, he testified before the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health on the crisis in Ethiopia. He received his Ph.D. in international relations from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. in history from Michigan State University, and a B.A. in history from the University of Virginia.

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