The right to self-determination, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations “UN” and International Covenants of Human Rights, states that “All people have the right of self-determination” and that by virtue of that right they are free to determine their political status to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
The UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna affirmed the right to self-determination, as part of international law of human rights. Intrinsically, it has been recognized that respect for the right to self-determination is a fundamental condition for the enjoyment of other human rights and fundamental freedom, be they civil, political, economic, social or cultural. The former British Somaliland Protectorate become independent on 26 June 1960 and was the first Somali speaking country to become a member of the UN.
Shortly thereafter Somaliland and the former Somalia Italian allied to free the five other Somali countries to form a country of great Somalia and not united only Somali Italian to form the Somali Republic.
However, the initially hopeful union ended with tragedy culminating in a brutal Ten-year war lasting until 1991. When the former Somali Republic disintegrated. Subsequently, the people of Somaliland proclaimed the political independence of Somaliland as it existed within the boundaries of the former colonial territory of the British Somaliland Protectorate.
Gradually order was restored; refugees started to return and Somaliland embarked on the long process of rebuilding. In 2001 voters opted in “a free and fair election for a new constitution that boldly proclaimed the case for independence” Somaliland’s commitment to peace and stability of the region and good neighborly relations includes full respect for the unity and territorial integrity of state. It stands neither for cessation, nor for the revision, of Africa’s borders. Its demand for recognition therefore affirms unreserved respect of the borders received at independence from Great Britain, and is consistent with principles of the AU. Despite the lack of rule and troubled fate of Somalia, Somaliland has accomplished extraordinary achievements in a wide environment beset with instability and poverty. Since 1991 it has carefully started to build and strengthen civil society and put in place modern democratic institution to govern the country. Somaliland has accomplished peace and has established a stable society based on the rule of law, and is as one commentator labelled “a bulwark against extremist international anarchy and terrorism.”
However, the lack of international recognition continues to present hurdles; seriously hindering economic development, discouraging the burgeoning private sector and eroding public trust in the country’s future. Some observers fear this may bring about a political downturn resulting in social anarchy and lawlessness. On the basis of not being dragged into war and instability with the spill-over effects of regional insecurity, Somaliland calls for international recognition to secure the goals of peace, stability and good governance and further develop existing pillars of stability and democracy.
Twenty Five years after Somaliland declared its independence; it has yet to be formally recognized by any country. This has meant that Somaliland cannot sign agreements with multilateral donors such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, and has furthermore prevented meaningful bilateral development assistance from other governments, including substantive loan to rehabilitate a rundown infrastructure. In its transition program to democracy, Somaliland held successful internationally monitored local government and presidential elections in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
Furthermore, peaceful multi-party elections were held in Somaliland in 2005 and 2010, demonstrating the determination of the people and their government to preserve hard-won peace and stability. The time for the world recognition of Somaliland is now, not only because it is right, but because it is the interests of the World. Recognition of Somaliland, followed by expanded engagement by Somaliland with the international community, would serve as a powerful lesson for other countries within the region “not least of all Somalia” of the benefits associated with the creation and consolidation of democratic systems of government. Somaliland would become a model to emulate, and the international community would be congratulated for undertaking a proactive policy in support of a moderate, Muslim democracy…
ANIIS A. ESSA….
HEAD SOMALILAND ADVOCACY GROUP WAHINGTON DC…USA.