Somaliland is a former British protectorate. It gained independence in 1960 and was recognized as an independent state. However, acting on the desire at the time of Somalis to live in one state, Somaliland voluntarily joined with Italy’s former Somali colony to form the Republic of Somalia. The union turned out to be disastrous for Somaliland, as the people found themselves marginalized in the new state. In 1969 Siyad Barre overthrew the government of Somalia in a coup and began a policy of calculated repression of the people of Somaliland. When the Somali National Movement stepped up its armed resistance to Barre’s oppressive regime in Somaliland in the late 1980s, the armed forces of Somalia bombed Somaliland, completely destroying the capital Hargeisa, killing an estimated 50,000 people and displacing another 500,000.
In 1991, after the fall of the Barre regime and the total collapse of the Somali Republic, Somaliland resolved to re-constitute itself as an independent State. Since then it has established and sustained peace and stability and held parliamentary and presidential elections. Somaliland therefore stands in stark contrast to south-central Somalia, which remains a failed state without an effective government, plagued by a series of disastrous humanitarian crises. Somalilanders are united in their desire to live in an independent state and are strongly opposed to any union with Somalia.
Somaliland meets the established criteria for recognition as a state. It has a permanent population, a defined territory, a functioning government and capacity to enter into relations with other states in the international community. Its achievements have won widespread praise and its case for recognition has been favourably assessed by the African Union Commission, the conflict prevention NGO International Crisis Group as well as the security and development policy think tank The Senlis Council.
ID has worked with the government of Somaliland since 2006, providing advice on its diplomacy and helping it to engage with Somalia, secure more development assistance, and cooperate with international efforts to combat piracy. Somaliland has had to adapt to the changing international environment as the transition in Somalia continues. ID has helped Somaliland to engage in effective negotiations with Somalia about their constitutional relationship by means of the Somali-Somaliland Dialogue process initiated at the London Conference on Somalia in 2012.
“ID has always supported us. They seek to understand our needs and think creatively with us about how best to achieve our objectives.” – Mohamed Behi Yonis, Foreign Minister, Republic of Somaliland
ID has also helped the Government of Somaliland respond to and formally protest Somalia’s declaration of an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which infringes Somaliland’s sovereignty. ID has supported Somaliland in its successful efforts to secure a separate arrangement under the Somali Compact of the New Deal for Fragile States. The resulting “Somaliland Special Arrangement” gives Somaliland greater say and control over how aid is disbursed in its territory.