The Republic of Somaliland re-asserted its sovereignty in May 1991 after a thirty-year union with neighboring Somalia which culminated in a long civil war and genocidal attacks on the people of Somaliland. Somaliland is not a region which has seceded from a country, but is a state, which was, for a brief period in 1960 an independent country known as the STATE OF SOMALILAND but hastily united voluntarily with another state (Somalia) and then ended that union, albeit unilaterally, in 1991.
Reduced to a practical level, “recognition is an authoritative statement issued by competent foreign policy decision-makers in a country so as to signal the willingness of their state to treat with a new state or to accept that factual or legal consequences flow from a new situation”. Despite the traditional international law debates of whether recognition was declaratory in nature or constitutive and the allied criteria for statehood, these no longer mark the most salient dividing line in the law of recognition and
“rather, the critical tension in recognition law is concentrated along two axes, in ways related to the traditional debate but distinct from it: first, along the axis between recognition conceived as a legal act and recognition conceived as a political act; and second, along an axis between a collective and a unilateral process of recognition.” (Grant T.D (1999) The Recognition of States Law and Practice in Debate and Evolution, Praeger, Westport, Conn., page xx.)
Indeed the case of Somaliland is a good illustration of how political considerations and emphasis on OAU/AU collective action have so far acted to deny it international recognition for over two decades. Yet, as can be seen in many of the articles and papers on this page, Somaliland meets the traditional requirements of a state and has acted as a sovereign independent state since May 1991. The following documents set out in more detail the case for recognition of the Republic of Somaliland and provide further relevant information about Somaliland’s statehood, national identity and quest for international recognition.
02 February 2015: The Case for Somaliland Recognition- A U-tube Presentation (35min.) by Mohamoud Adan Jama
31 October 2014: Somaliland’s Union and Disunion & the Lessons of the Scotland Referendum – A Press Release and a detailed Statement issued on 30 October 2014 by the Somaliland Societies of Europe (SSE) and endorsed by other Somaliland Diaspora Organisations:
“If a 300-year-old peaceful and prosperous union of two states has been considered for a possible dissolution through self-determination of the people of one of the states, then the dissolution of a 30 year union of the two states of Somaliland and Somalia in May 1991 after a ‘genocidal’ war waged by the government of the union against the majority of the Somaliland people, and at a time when there were no avenues for the exercise of democracy, let alone internal self-determination, should surely be acceptable to any Somalian government claiming to be the successor to the pre 1991 government”
2013: ‘Recognition of Somaliland – claiming our rightful place within the community of nations’: Information and details about Somaliland’s quest for international recognition are available at the Somaliland Government website at this link.
18 MAY 2011: SOMALILAND MARKS THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF RE-ASSERTING ITS SOVEREIGNTY:
- Leaflet by UK Somalilanders (May 2011).
- Statement: of the Somaliland Minister of Foreign Affairs to the international community ( 18 May 2011).
LEGAL PAPERS & OPINIONS on the Case for the De Jure Recognition of the Republic of Somaliland
Submissions by Somalilanders:
- Statement of the Somaliland Foreign Minister – 18 May 2011
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Briefing Paper Aug 2002: The case for Somaliland’s International Recognition as an Independent State
- The case for Somaliland Recognition: Somaliland Government’s Published submissions: 2001 Booklet: Demand for Somaliland Recognition (pdf file)
- SNM Executive Committee Paper 2000
- Somaliland Forum Submission 2001
- A short briefing paper: Does Somaliland have a legal ground for seeking international recognition? By A H NUR, April 2011
- Strong Case for Somaliland Recognition by Abdi Hussein Daud, Sep. 2012
Independent Legal Views/Papers:
- Carroll and Rajagopal, The case for the independent statehood of Somaliland, American University Journal of International Law & Politics, Vol. 8:653, 1993.
- When is a state a state? the case for recognition of Somaliland: A.K.Eggers (2007), Boston College International & Comparative Law Review, Vol 30:211
- Roethke P (2011) The Right to Secede under International Law, Journal of International Service Fall 2011, p.35
Independent Views and Articles
- June 2011: African Game Changer? The Consequences of Somaliland’s International (non) Recognition, Brenhurst Foundation Paper 2011/05 (http://www.thebrenthurstfoundation.org/)
- Somaliland: On the Road to Independent Statehood? J. Peter Pham, Ph.D. 13/12/2007
- Somaliland: The Little Country that Could David H Shinn November 2002
African Union (AU, previously OAU) and Somaliland
- African Union Fact-Finding Mission to Somaliland Report – May 2005 – “The fact that the ‘union between Somaliland and Somalia was never ratified’ and also malfunctioned when it went into action from 1960 to 1990, makes Somaliland’s search for recognition historically unique and self-justified in African political history. Objectively viewed, the case should not be linked to the notion of ‘opening a Pandora’s box’. As such the AU should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding matter.”
- Somaliland: Time for an African Union Leadership – International Crisis Group (ICG) Africa Report No.110 23 May 2006.
- A Void of Governance: The AU slow to act in failed states – Aly Verjee in Measuring Regionalism Jan/Feb 2006
For more background information on this topic, please also visit: http://www.sirag.org.uk