Somaliland: Peace and justice promotion “Beyond Legalist Approaches”



Somalilandsun – Danish Institute for International Studies-DIIS guest-researcher Louise W. Moe has together with Maria Vargas published an article on peace and justice promotion in Somaliland.

The article explores alternatives to prevailing state-centric and legalistic approaches to supporting local security and access to justice in post-conflict settings. It does so through a case study of a peace and justice initiative developed by an international NGO in partnership with a group of traditional authorities in Somaliland (northern Somalia).

The initiative aimed at enhancing local security and access to justice, drawing on customary conflict resolution mechanisms and everyday strategies of self-securing. At the same time, the initiative was shaped by international liberal notions of human rights and human security. This approach entailed a renegotiation of both local ordering and international discourse.

Drawing on our fieldwork, we examine the initiative as it has evolved since 2003, and discuss what it suggests in terms of prospects for international support to ‘non-state’ actors. In particular, the article draws attention to the potential of working with everyday local practices to enable change rather than relying solely on legalist approaches aimed at reforming law systems.

Louise Wiuff Moe

Full citation: L. W., Moe & M. Vargas Simojoki. 2013. ‘Custom, contestation and co-operation: peace and justice promotion in Somaliland’, in Conflict, Security & Development 13(4): 393-416



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