Jul 13, 2011

Somaliland: International Recognition in Focus

Somalianders recognize themselves as an independent nation that is democratic, tolerant and inclusive. It is only a matter of time until the rest of the world realizes this reality.  

Below is an article published by the American Chronicle  

Since the birth of a new state in Africa, Southern Sudan, on the 9th of July 2011, Somalilan's belated international recognition has come to a sharper focus. No doubt, the official invitation and presence of the democratically elected President of Somaliland, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud "Silaanyo" at the inaugural celebrations in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, played a key role.

Much like Southern Sudan, Somaliland hopes to join the international community as an independent and sovereign state. Unlike Southern Sudan, Somaliland was briefly an independent and sovereign state for five days between June 26th and July 1, 1960, before joining with newly independent Italian Somaliland to create the now defunct Somali Republic.

The union between Somaliland and Italian Somaliland was not ratified by a national referendum and subsequently, after thirty years of an unbalanced and unjust union culminating in a civil in the late 1980´, Somaliland restored its sovereignty on May 18th, 1991. Therefore one could argue that Somaliland has more of a legal claim to international recognition than Southern Sudan, Kosovo, or many other recently recognized states.

But, there are no sour grapes on behalf of the people of Somaliland, who universally celebrate with their brothers and sisters in Southern Sudan on their newly attained independence and sovereignty and along with it a sense of freedom, justice and peace. 

We in Somaliland also await the day of our international recognition. Which brings me back to the topic of this article, to be or not to be recognized?

To the majority of Somalilanders, as far as they are concerned, Somaliland is an independent and sovereign state. Somaliland has its destiny in its own hands. It is a democratic, inclusive and tolerant state in an otherwise dangerous corner of the world. 

There is, in Somaliland, a new generation of citizens who have come of age knowing only Somaliland, and they are the future of the country. For them, the defunct Somali Republic has no relevance; it is a chapter in the history books, which requires their awareness, but not their allegiance. 

Since 1991, Somaliland has overcome many obstacles, from rebuilding a shattered nation, both physically and mentally, to creating stability through a unique formula of dialogue, discussion and consensus, which continues to this day. Yet, this small and poor nation refuses to rest on its considerable achievements, because, both its citizens and political leadership are aware, that all the gains Somaliland have made must be nurtured and protected.

Somaliland and its citizens have made it crystal clear that the issue of political independence and sovereignty is sacrosanct. There is no turning back. Somalis across the region and all over the world will always have social, cultural and economic ties, but not political ties. We have all been down that road before, and it has led to death and destruction. 

Having said that, the people of Somaliland would like to see south and central Somalia come out of the two decades of anarchy and mayhem, whole. Somalilanders would like to see justice, tolerance, inclusiveness and democracy prevail in a region which has become synonymous with, warlords, intolerance, injustice, terrorism and piracy.

In the two decades since reclaiming sovereignty, Somaliland has been a model for all the people of the Horn of Africa, Africa as a whole and the international community. No one is claiming that Somaliland is perfect, far from it. There are many hurdles still to overcome, but, there is no doubt that Somaliland is a beacon of success in the region.

We in Somaliland recognize ourselves as an independent and sovereign nation, and will always do so. If our brothers and sisters in Africa and the Arab world continue to shun our claims, so be it. If the international community continues to hold Somaliland hostage to the never ending situation in south and central Somalia, so be it. But, with each passing day, Somaliland continues to build a strong, stable and resolute nation.

One thing is certain, independence and self-determination is not only real, it is also a state of mind. Somaliland awaits and demands international recognition. It has been fifty years since Somaliland emerged from British colonial rule, it has been twenty since restoration of sovereignty, and if international recognition takes another century, Somaliland and its citizens will remain steadfast.