To Be or Not to Be: Rethinking the Possible Repercussions of Somaliland’s International Statehood Recognition

by Nikola Pijovic

Abstract

After the fall of President Siyad Barre in 1991, the northern region of what used to constitute Somalia declared independence from the rest of the country as the Republic of Somaliland. Although Somaliland is not internationally recognized as a sovereign state, it has survived for over two decades and currently constitutes the most peaceful and secure area of Somalia. Notwithstanding its accomplishments in state building and good governance, however, the international community has been highly reluctant to extend Somaliland international recognition, while at the same time showering the dysfunctional Somali Federal Institutions with aid and complete recognition in all international forums. Diplomats, politicians, and academics discussing Somaliland’s status usually raise a number of issues that should be considered before the territory is to be extended formal recognition. This article seeks to examine many of those issues and discuss their validity in order to illuminate the highly complex situation surrounding Somaliland’s international recognition.

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Nikola Pijovic is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. He has published on local governance in Somalia and the politics behind Somaliland’s lacking statehood recognition.