Recognition of the Republic of Somaliland: An Open Letter to the International Community

Somaliland people hold a giant banner in front of UK Parliament. -- Thousands of Somaliland people gather at Parliament to lobby MPs regarding international recognition of Somaliland. Somaliland is an unrecognized self-declared sovereign state that is nternationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia. Thousands of Somaliland nationals lobby at UK Parliament

Somalilandsun: Whereas the people of Somaliland have exercised their right to self determination in a Constitutional Conference held in the City of London, United Kingdom, between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and  Northern Ireland and the duly elected representatives of Somaliland, from May 2, 1960 to May 12, 1960; and whereas a Royal Proclamation dated June 23, 1960 set the date of independence as of 26 June 1960; and whereas all the residuals of treaties, agreements, contracts, and other legal obligations made by the British government on behalf of Somaliland protectorate reverted to the duly constituted government of Somaliland; and whereas a voluntary Union with the former Italian colony of Somalia on July 1, 1960 shall not impact in any way, shape, or form, the inherent right of Somaliland’s self determination;

and whereas the efforts of the international community to restore some semblance of law and order in southern Somalia, including, but not limited to : Operation Restore Hope and UNISOMI and UNISOMII has failed; and whereas the strategic location of the Republic of Somaliland at the confluence of the Arabian and the Red Sea makes Somaliland prime candidate and an indispensable partner in the global war against international terrorism;
and whereas a politically motivated economic embargo on the vital exports of Somaliland have strained the survival of this nations; and whereas the remittances of the diaspora communities have maintained for the past twenty nine years the financial solvency of the Republic of Somaliland; and whereas the lack of recognition prohibits the Republic of Somaliland from concluding any bilateral agreements with international investors and financial institutions such as the DPWorld, World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations Development Agencies; and whereas these constraints have placed an unbearable hardship on the people of Somaliland;
and whereas, on the other hand, the Republic of Somaliland has qualified for statehood pursuant to the Montevideo Convention of December 26, 1933[ratified December 26, 1934]; and whereas the Republic of Somaliland also fulfills the criteria and the guidelines of the European Union[EU 1992] for recognition of new states;
and whereas a fact finding mission of the African Union that visited Somaliland from April 29, 2005 to May 5, 2005 concluded that the legal instruments of the Union of Somaliland and Somalia on July 1, 1960 were not properly ratified; and whereas the same mission also noted that Somaliland’s quest for international recognition is unique in contemporary African political history and recommended that special arrangements be made to deal with the issue; and whereas a team of South African legal experts have also established that the Republic of Somaliland fulfills the legal requirement of statehood according to international law;
and whereas any externally imposed efforts to renegotiate the failed union of 1960, regardless of any international guarantees, will ultimately lead to renewed conflagration of hostilities;
Then, it is imperative that the international community should reassess the failed approaches of the past according to the dynamics of the conflict. The core issue at the tangled spider web of Somali politics is to tackle Somaliland’s legitimate quest for recognition. The reconfiguration of Somalia is an inevitable reality and the sooner the international community reckons with this fact, the better are the chances of securing an everlasting peace acceptable to the warring factions in southern Somalia. This is the key to the intractable crises in southern Somalia. Now is the time to discard the twin outdated dogmas of maintaining the unity, the territorial integrity, the sovereignty, and the independence of the failed Somali Republic; and the false assumption that the Somali creed is socially, culturally, ethnically, religiously, and linguistically a homogenous society.These misnomers are no longer applicable to Somali society.

Historical background
From 1874 to 1885 the northern Somali coast [ Somaliland ] was under the suzerainty of the Othman Empire. Between 1884 and 1886 the British government signed a series of treaties and agreements with the Somali clans of the northern Somali coast [present day Somaliland ].  Pursuant to the protocols of the General Act of Berlin Conference, the British government deposited the instruments of these agreements and treaties with the European Powers in 1887.
The territory of the Republic of Somaliland is the geographic area located between Latitudes 08N and 11:30′ N and Longitudes 42:45′ and 49 E. The Republic of Djibouti lies to the West, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the South, Somalia to the East, and the Gulf of Aden to the North. The Anglo-French treaty of 1888, the Anglo-Italian Protocol of 1894, and the Anglo-Ethiopian agreement of 1897 demarcated the current boundaries of the Republic of Somaliland.Although no official census has been taken, the current population of Somaliland is estimated at about 4.5 million.

Recognition of the Republic of Somaliland
Somaliland the only democracy in the Horn of Africa region

The post Independence

On June 26, 1960 Somaliland attained its independence and on July 1, 1960 it voluntarily merged with the former United Nations Trust Territory of Somalia. The union malfunctioned because the legal instruments of its adoption failed to meet the standards of international agreements between two sovereign nations. The following chronology expounds on the legal aspects of the union of Somaliland and Somalia:

On June 26 1960, Somaliland became the first Somali territory that attained independence and over thirty nations, including the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have extended recognition to Somaliland. On the same day, the Government of Somaliland and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland signed a number of bilateral agreements in Hargeisa, Somaliland.
On July 1, 1960 the Italian administered territory of Somalia became independent under the terms of its own constitution without the completion of an acceptable single Act of Union with Somaliland;
On July 1, 1960 a joint session of the Parliaments of Somaliland and Somalia agreed in principle the proclamation of the Somali Republic pending the drafting of single text of Act of Union to be submitted at a later date for parliamentary approval. The same session elected Mr… Aden Abdille Osman as a provisional president of he new Republic.
On July 1, 1960, the provisional President signed the constitution of the former Italian colony as the law of the Somali Republic. On the same day the president promulgated a presidential decree named “The law of the Union of the state of Somaliland and Somalia.” Article 63 para. 3 of the constitution of the former Italian colony states clearly that Presidential decrees should be submitted to parliament for conversion into law, otherwise, the measure is deemed null and void. Without completing the legal formalities of the union of the two countries and contrary to the practices of parliamentary democracy, the provisional president hijacked the powers of the legislative branch of the government.
On June 20, 1961 to circumvent this legal problem, the Somali government held a combined referendum for a constitution and an Act of Union. There was widespread irregularities in the plebiscite and the results are subject to some serious legal interpretations and challenges. The measure failed to pass in Somaliland. However, the Somali government ignored that historic fact.
On September 1961 President Aden Abdille Osman and Prime Minister Abdulrashi Ali Sharmarke signed the results of the referendum into law and it was published in the Official Gazette. The President and his Prime were both from the southern Somalia.The duly elected representatives of Somaliland were not a signatory to this blatant injustice.
On December 10, 1961 the Commissioned Military Officers of Somaliland staged a coup to reclaim the sovereignty of Somaliland. The attempt failed and the officers were charged with high treason. The court proceedings continued until 1963 when the presiding British magistrate delivered the final verdict. The judge cleared the officers of all charges because for the following reasons:
“The Officers never made an oath of allegiance to a state called the Somali republic; the constitution of the Somali republic has no legal or jurisdictional authority over the citizens and the territory of the Somaliland.” This ruling had exposed the deficiencies of the purported union of the two territories.
The Disastrous Journey
From 1960 to January 29, 1991 the civilian and the military governments of Somalia had declined to address the grievances of the people of Somaliland. On April 6, 1982 the Somali National Movement was formed in London, U.K. to overthrow the repressive regime of the late General Mohamed Siad Barre.
And whereas the International Human Rights Organizations have documented the savagery of the Somali National Army against the civilian population of Somaliland during the 1980’s and 1990’s; and whereas the tactics of Somali Army back then resulted in the death of more 150,000 people; and whereas the citizens of Somaliland have reclaimed their sovereignty through a referendum that met all internationally accepted standard procedures set for plebiscites; and whereas for the past sixteen years, the Republic of Somaliland has established functioning institutions of a democratic state within its colonial borders with minimal external assistance; and whereas the chaos and lawlessness prevalent in southern Somalia pose a serious threat to the stability of the Horn of Africa Region.
The Somali National Movement finally defeated the Somali national Army and the military government collapsed on January 29, 1991. Without the prior consent and participation of the Somali National Movement of Somaliland, the politicians of Southern Somalia formed a new national government.
The Road to Recovery
Once again, this has alienated the people of Somaliland. At a convention in the city of Burao, Somaliland, on May 18, 1991, the leadership of the Somali national Movement and the traditional leaders of the Clans of Somaliland, had declared the dissolution of the Union of Somalia and Somaliland and the reclamation of Somaliland sovereignty within its former colonial borders. This was a point of no return. The late Mr… Abdirahman Ahmed Ali was elected the first president and Mr… Hassan Essa Jama, the vice-president.
At a second convention of the Clans of Somaliland,  held in Borama, Somaliland, from January 23 1993 to April 24, 1993, the Somali national Movement transferred the power to the mass. The conference adopted a National Charter that laid the foundations of a Republican form of Government with a bicameral parliament, an Executive branch, and an independent Judiciary. At the end of the conference, the late Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal was elected as the second president of the Republic and Mr… Abdirahman Aw Ali Farah as the Vice-president.
A third conference held in Hargeisa, Somaliland, from February to May 1997 extended President Egal’s mandate for another four years. This convention also approved in principle the drafting of a National Constitution. In a short period of four and a half years, the people of Somaliland went to the polls on four different occasions:
On May 31, 2001 Somaliland conducted a constitutional referendum. Over 97% of the voters endorsed the new constitution which reaffirmed Somaliland’s status as an independent nation. The Initiative and referendum Institute, an international non-profit organisation based in Washington, D.C. concluded that overall the referendum was conducted, “Openly,fairly, honestly, and largely in accordance with internationally recognized election procedures.”
On December 7, 2002Somaliland the first municipal elections after thirty-four years;
On April 14, 2003 Somaliland held its first presidential elections. The margin of victory between the top two contenders was a mere 80 votes. This is an unheard of feat in the African continent;
On September 29, 2005 Somali Landers went to the polls to vote for members of the House of Representatives.
The Presidential election was Somaliland’s first in seven years, after several delays. June 2010.
On November 21, 2017. Somaliland fifth President election, the winner was President Muse Hussein Abdi { Bixi }.
Dissolution of Unions
Whereas the union of Somaliland and Somalia on July 1, 1960 was a voluntary agreement; and whereas the dissolution of the same union is perfectly in accordance with Constitutive Act of the African Union; and whereas the issue of the inviolability of the colonial boundaries is a matter of technicality; and whereas the Right to Self-determination is enshrined in the Charter of the United nations Organisation; and whereas the government and the people of Somaliland have established a functioning defacto state without encumbering the international community for assistance; then it is time to evaluate the merits and the legal soundness of Somaliland’s case for international recognition in compared to the following historic precedents:
On August 6, 1815 Norway an Sweden formalised an Act of Union of their kingdoms. At the time Europe was recovering from the Napoleonic wars and there was no objection to the union. However, because of extreme dissatisfaction in Norway, the parliament of Norway unanimously and unilaterally declared the dissolution of the union effective June 7, 1905. A national referendum held on August 13, 1905 confirmed the decision of the Norwegian parliament; and on October 16, 1905 the parliaments of Sweden and Norway revoked the Act of Union. As indicated earlier there had been no official Act of Union between Somaliland and Somalia; therefore, no legal agreement to dissolve.
In 1950, Ethiopia and Eritrea formed a federal state. This union resulted in an atrocious thirty-year war that wreaked havoc on the civilian population of Eritrea. To avert further bloodshed, the international community intervened. Ethiopia and Eritrea parted ways in 1993. The case of Somalia and Somaliland is not any different by any stretch of the imagination;
In February, 1958 the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Syrian Arab Republic consummated the United Arab Republic as a result of a plebiscite held in both countries. This union lasted until October 13, 1961, when Syria reverted back o its original status as an independent nation.
In 1960, the short-lived union of Mali and Senegal was dissolved without any border crisis;
On August 9, 1965, the Union of Malaya and Singapore ceased to exist. It was a mutual decision of the two contracting parties;

Recognition of the Republic of Somaliland
Somaliland Deserves its seat at the UN

In february, 1982 senegal and Gambia formed a confederation named Senegambia. Dissatisfactions and disillusionment with the slow pace of integration and harmonisation of the institutions of the confederation forced President Abdo Diof of Senegal to unilaterally dissolve the confederation on September 30, 1989.
The Perestroika and the Glasnost policies of President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Union of Soviet Socialist republics has left a permanent transformation on the political map of Europe and Russia. The old Soviet constitution has no mechanism for dismantling the mighty Soviet Union. More than a dozen nations emerged from the implosion of the Soviet Union without any appreciable threat to the peace and security of the world.
On December 31, 1992 the Republic of Czechoslovakia ceased to exist and on New Year’s day, january 1, 1993, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic came into being.
The disintegration of the yugoslavia posed a serious problem in central Europe. However, the European Union averted the impending catastrophe by granting immediate recognition to Slovenia and Croatia. The ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina necessitated the direct intervention of NATO forces.
On November 14, 1975, Spain departed its last colonial possession in Africa without transferring the affairs of the territory to the local population. In 1976, Morocco and mauritania intervened and claimed sovereignty over the territory. The indigenous people formed the POLISARIO liberation movement. Through the intervention of the African Union, the Saharawi Arab republic is recognized by more than forty countries.
Also in 1975, the Portuguese government abruptly terminated its colonial rule in East Timor. On July 7, 1976 East Timor declared its independence. Nine days later, on July 16, 1976 Indonesian troops invaded East Timor. Over the next twenty-two years, more than 200,000 East Timorese lost their lives due to Indonesian army repression, famine, disease, and starvation. The downfall of President Suharto and the international outcry against the atrocities of the Indonesian army facilitated an internationally supervised referendum.

Recognition of the Republic of Somaliland
Aniis Abdilahi Essa

In the plebiscite of August 30 1999, more than 78.5% of the population voted for independence Finally, on May 20, 2002 East Timor reclaimed its sovereignty.
The preceding examples illustrate some of the historic precedents in the dissolution of unions or the application of the principle of self determination in other instances, such as Bangladesh [1971], Eritrea [1993], and East Timor [1999]. Southern Sudan. The same criteria should apply to Somaliland as well.