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Somaliland's Surprising Peace

Despite proving to be a stable and democratic region in the middle of failed and failing states Somaliland is not recognized by the international community. And yet it thrives.

The Society for International Development quotes Loan Lewis from the preface of his book, 'Understanding Somalia and Somaliland' as saying,

"This (the most positive political intervention having taken place despite other failing interventions) is the formation and the consolidation of the democratic state of Somaliland which dissolved its union with Somalia in 1991. This self-governing outpost of democracy in Africa, although it has a growing de-facto personality as an independent state, at the time of writing still seeks international recognition.'

'This anomaly, as it seems to the political leaders of Somaliland, says
more about the character of contemporary international affairs than their own, largely home-made Somali institutions."

The newsletter then goes on to say, "Somaliland remains unrecognized. However, its success at pacifying its territory and establishing representative and functional institutions speaks volumes about the capacity of its citizens to find homegrown solutions to their challenges. Their grassroots approach to peacemaking enabled clan pacification and aided the establishment of a political consensus which still holds to date. In June of this year, a largely unnoticed but peaceful presidential election took place. The incumbent was defeated, conceded and handed over power to his successor without any fuss – an event that in the region is more of an exception than the norm."

Implications from Society for International Development:

"But are Somaliland's stability and putative prosperity overrated? It is not clear what Somaliland's competitive edge would be if the conflict that has plagued the south of the Somali republic was to be solved... it is unlikely that its supremacy as the leading economic entity amongst the units of the Somali republic would last once that peace was achieved. As such, Somaliland's leadership is faced with an interesting choice. It could ignore the conflict and by consolidating Somaliland's relative political stability, maintain and expand its legitimacy. Alternatively, they could help resolve the conflict and risk diluting Somaliland's success and becoming irrelevant in the broader context of a peaceful Somalia."

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Society for International Development August 2010, pg. 11