Somaliland: The Shortfall of Non-Binding Union

Before the union Somaliland was a sovereign nation after Somaliland obtained its independence from the British government on June 26, 1960, the two independent sovereign nations Somalia and the Republic of Somaliland formed a union. Unfortunately the union was not legally binding according to the international law.“The unification effort, however, fell short of the legal requirements mandated by domestic and international law.With nothing more than the recognition of other states to testify to the existence of Somalia as a unified state ……On January 31, 1961, the National Assembly proclaimed a new Act of Union, repealing the Union of Somaliland and Somalia Law and made the Act of Union retroactive as from July 1, 1960.’ The act of ‘repealing’, however, was not effective in all of Somalia.’ Furthermore, since the South, in negotiation with Italian officials, drafted the constitution, northern politicians could make only marginal changes.” The referendum on the Constitution in June 1961 reflected Northern resentment of Southern power. The SNL successfully campaigned against ratification, contributing to the low turnout in the North; only 100,000 voted” (Carroll & Rajagopal, 1993).


Today Somaliland is a sovereign nation with all the requirements of statehood fulfilled, democratic, peaceful with fully functioning  institutions, contrary to its neighbor in the southern border still under the support and the protection of the international community. Therefore, it is imperative that the international community and the United Nations review and reinstate its original status as of June 26, 1960, and recognize Somaliland.

Immediately, following the union of July 1, 1960, Somalilanders found themselves marginalized and were sidelined from power-sharing in new the government. Hence, young junior officers led by Hassan Abdillahi Walanwal (Hassan Kayd) dissatisfied with unfair promotions attempted unsuccessful coup. Key government cabinet positions such the presidency, the prime minster, foreign minister  and many high level positions were given to members of the former Italian colony of Somalia. Somalilanders were offered very low level cabinet positions such as Ministry of Agriculture and few managerial positions.


The young junior officers’ attempted coup paved the way to a of period unarmed struggle, mainly to create awareness, educate and counter the powerful soviet style propaganda of the brutal dictator of Siad Barre regime, by Somaliland educators, writers and artists such as Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame ( Hadrawi) a prominent poet, songwriter and an educator, the late Mohamed Hashi  Dhamac (Gaarriye) Aun, a  legendary poet and several other including Abdi Adan Xayd (Qays).


The years that followed during the 70s through 80s were the nucleus of the entire movement that made possible the smooth transition from awareness and education to that of  armed struggle and eventually the creation of SNM (Somali National Movement). On May 18, 1991, Somaliland reinstated its sovereignty that ones slipped the hands of their leaders in the name of “Greater Somalia” and Pan-Somalism which never came to fruition. The next phase of the struggle still continues today until Somaliland gains its place in the international body of nations and community and until its sovereignty is reinstated among nations.


Somalilanders both abroad, local and government institutions must present themselves as ambassadors to the cause of Somaliland recognition. 


Foreign Ministry must define goals and establish a plan with road map, broken into milestones with deadlines and schedules. It must be continuously re-evaluated and changed if obstacles are encountered along the way. Reports must be generated periodically with lessons learned and accomplishments achieved. 
I laud the recent speech of the new Foreign Minister,  H.E. Essa Kayd Mohamoud expressing the need for renewed urgency in search for recognition during the recent Somaliland Diaspora Conference in Hargeisa.


By Mohamed Adan Samatar


Carroll, A. J., & Rajagopal, B. (1993). The Case for the Independence  Statehood of Somaliland. Digital Commons @ American  University Washington College of Law | American University  Washington College of Law Research. https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1877&context=auilr