Beyond The Failed State: Time To Recognise Somaliland
Amidst the failed state Somalia, the northern part of of the country, encompassing the colonial boundaries of the former British Somaliland is a functioning, free and fair democracy. Bizarrely, it remains unrecognised by any other country.
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
While the attention of the World continues to focus on North Africa and the Middle East, other conflict stricken countries fall ever further down the news agenda. In the case of Somalia - essentially a failed state - conflict and war has assailed people there since the early 1990s. Attempts to intervene by the United States famously failed, and a more recent intervention by Uganda has had limited success. Somalia is a breeding ground for terrorism and priracy - and yet...
The Northern part of Somaliland, encompassing the colonial boundaries of the former British Somaliland is a functioning, free and fair democracy. Bizarrely it remains unrecognised by any other country. Is that because it offends African Union opinion, in that effectively it is a breakaway state?
But Somaliland is a country we all do need to know a good deal more about – and fast. Where much else is a failed state, wracked by conflict and threatened by piracy and terrorism. And Somaliland ticks most of the international community’s boxes. The UN, EU and Commonwealth approve of the young country’s emerging democracy. The US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, approves Somaliland’s efforts to control home grown terrorism, and understands the strategic importance of the country, sitting as it does across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. And Somaliland surely fulfils the AU’s criteria for nationhood. Its boundaries are the colonial boundaries of what was once the Protectorate of British Somaliland.
Last year Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson fell short of offering President Silanyo recognition for his country. This year it could be different if the United States takes the lead. Throughout North Africa and the Middle East, the Obama administration has spoken out in support of human rights and self determination. Isn't it high time the United States and the rest of the international community recognise the comparative success story that is Somaliland?
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