Somaliland in the Horn of Africa: An Oasis of Peace and Stability
The Horn of Africa is known as one of the hostile geographic spaces in the continent regarding interstate conflicts. Some of Africa’s longest civil wars occur in this region: the Ethio-Eritrea border conflict, the civil war in Sudan, and the Somali conflict.
However, there is the case of the Republic of Somaliland, an independent but not recognized, yet stable state with its security and steady nation based on mutual understanding between its leaders and the people. When Somalia’s government collapsed in 1991, violence engulfed much of the country for over two decades. But in Somaliland, an independent nation, the story has been quite different. Its leaders managed to negotiate an end a large-scale violence within six years. Somaliland has achieved something still impossible in most of Somalia. One is struck by the euphoria and the strength of popular pride in the achievement of peace and relative security.
Somaliland is more apt to embrace democracy than Somalia or any other country in the Horn, with all due respect. The British colonization of Somaliland, while not without its faults, introduced a rule of law and democratic institutions. The Italians, however, colonized Somalia and ruled in a manner more fitting of their fascist institutions. Moreover, Somaliland does not have the historical experience of warlords and nepotism that has plagued the rest of Somalia.
As a result of a continues challenges and hardship to build up the state, Somaliland managed to develop an authority, forge a functioning peace with promising security, and establish full-bodied institutions with viable and flourishing economy with limited international engagement. Thus, the condition of peace and security established by Somaliland has led it to enter into formal and informal cooperative arrangements with states and intergovernmental organizations, including: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Denmark, United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), United Nations UN, etc.
An important element defining Somaliland’s peace and security is the approaches adopted by Somaliland elites to seek peace and sustain security.
To be honest, the challenge faced by peace practitioners is to find ways in which communities can resolve their internal differences without resorting to an outright violence. The goal of peacemakers is to develop more effective ways of resolving disputes in order to identify and transform the conditions that cause violence or war.
In conclusion this should be a reminding to the international and neighbouring communities that Somaliland has been playing an essential role for peace and stability in the region for the past 25 years.
Let me conclude by quoting from Dr. Edna Adam: “Somaliland existed before IGAD and Somalia.”
Nimo Osman Abdi
The author has obtained BA in LLB from University of Hargeisa, MA in International Relations from University of Hargeisa (UoH). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org