The `ineluctable’ decline of Somalia over 20 years, the failure of UN-sanctioned interventions, and the unsuccessful attempts at reconstituting a centralized state were not written in stone. Recently, indigenous-led peace-building, decentralized local governance, and institutions that respect the regions’ heterogeneity appear to illuminate a more positive path towards reconstruction. Although Somalia still suffers, Somaliland, illegitimate in the eyes of the world, has emerged from the ashes with phoenix-like activity. Its rehabilitation efforts provide insights that the international aid community would do well to appreciate. Building on traditional systems of conflict management and partnerships with non-secular institutions, and encouraging local markets could limit the international community’s frustrating exercise of writing in shifting sands.


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