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Recognition of Somaliland

  The UNIQUE Case for the International Recognition of

the Republic of Somaliland 

The Republic of Somaliland re-asserted its sovereignty in May 1991 after a thirty year union with neighbouring Somalia which culminated in a long civil war and genocidal attacks on the people of Somaliland.  Somaliland is not a region which has seceded from a country, but is a state, which was, for a brief period in 1960  an independent country  known as the STATE OF SOMALILAND but hastily united voluntarily with another state (Somalia) and then  ended that union, albeit unilaterally, in 1991.  

Reduced to a practical level, “recognition is an authoritative statement issued by competent foreign policy decision-makers in a country so as to signal the willingness of their state to treat with a new state or to accept that factual or legal consequences flow from a new situation”.  Despite the traditional international law debates of whether recognition was declaratory in nature or constitutive and the allied criteria for statehood,  these no longer mark the most salient dividing line in the law of recognition and

    rather, the critical tension in recognition law is concentrated along two axes, in ways related to the traditional debate but distinct from it: first, along the axis between recognition conceived as a legal act and recognition conceived as a political act; and second, along an axis between  a collective and a unilateral process of recognition.” (Grant T.D (1999) The Recognition of States Law and Practice in Debate and Evolution, Praeger, Westport, Conn., page xx.)

Indeed the case of Somaliland is a good illustration of how political considerations  and emphasis on OAU/AU collective action  have so far acted to deny it international recognition for over two decades.   Yet, as can be seen in many of the articles and papers in this page, Somaliland meets the traditional requirements of a state and has acted as sovereign independent state since May 1991. The following documents set out in more detail the case for recognition of the Republic of Somaliland and provide  further relevant information about Somaliland’s statehood, national identity and quest for international recognition.

02 February 2015: The Case for Somaliland Recognition- A U-tube Presentation (35min.) by Mohamoud Adan Jama

31 October 2014: Somaliland’s Union and Disunion & the Lessons of the Scotland Referendum - A Press Release and a detailed Statement issued on 30 October 2014 by the Somaliland Societies of Europe (SSE) and endorsed by other Somaliland Diaspora Organisations:

    If a 300 year old peaceful and prosperous union of two states has been considered for a possible dissolution through self-determination of the people of one of the states, then the dissolution of a 30 year union of the two states of Somaliland and Somalia in May 1991 after a ‘genocidal’ war waged by the government of the union against the majority of the Somaliland people, and at a time when there were no avenues for the exercise of democracy, let alone internal self-determination, should surely be acceptable to any Somalian government claiming to be the successor to the pre 1991 government”


     2013:  ‘Recognition of Somaliland – claiming our rightful place within the community of   nations’:  Information and details about Somaliland’s quest for international recognition are available at the Somaliland Government website at this link.


Legal Papers & Opinions on the Case for the De Jure Recognition of the Republic of Somaliland

Submissions by Somalilanders:

Independent Legal Views/Papers:

Independent Views and Articles

African Union (AU, previously OAU) and Somaliland

  • African Union Fact-Finding Mission to Somaliland Report - May 2005 - The fact that the ‘union between Somaliland and Somalia was never ratified’ and also malfunctioned when it went into action from 1960 to 1990, makes Somaliland’s search for recognition historically unique and self-justified in African political history. Objectively viewed, the case should not be linked to the notion of ‘opening a pandora’s box’. As such the AU should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding matter.”
  • Somaliland: Time for an African Union Leadership - International Crisis Group (ICG) Africa Report No.110 23 May 2006.
  • A Void of Governance: The AU slow to act in failed states - Aly Verjee in Measuring Regionalism Jan/Feb 2006

For more background information on this topic, please also visit:


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