The Republic of Somaliland is a sovereign, democratic State in the Horn of Africa, sharing its borders with Djibouti to the West, Ethiopia to the South, Somalia to the East and the Gulf of Aden to the North, with the coastline of 850 km. It encompasses the territory of the former British Protectorate of Somaliland whose borders were established by international treaties between 1888 and 1897. Somaliland achieved its full independence from the United Kingdom on 26 June 1960, becoming the 15th African Country to do so. Somaliland introduced democratic regime and had their first election in 2003.
It voluntarily entered in a union with Somalia in July 1960. However, following a civil war and the collapse of Somalia, it withdrew from the union and reclaimed its independence on 18 May 1991. The Somaliland government asserts that it meets most of the requirements of a sovereign democratic state: it holds free and fair elections, has its own currency and security forces, and issues its own passports.
With many reports as proof, Somaliland has been doing much better on human rights issues than its neighbor in the Horn of Africa. It is all-natural that women activism plays an extremely important role regarding this issue, not only in order to improve the quality of life of millions of women, but also to show the world that Somaliland is a place of progress and that they are trying to move forward in terms of women rights. Ubah Ali is one of those Somaliland women activists who devote her life to the end of FGM and the improvement of women rights in her country.
Even among unrecognized states, Somaliland is a special case because it is both completely independent and politically entirely isolated. Unlike South Sudan before its independence, Somaliland’s claim for statehood is based not on a redrawing of colonial borders, but an attempt to re-establish them. Unlike Taiwan, it is shackled not to a richer, more powerful country, but a poorer, weaker one. Unlike Palestine, its quest for independence is not a popular cause for activists around the world.
The country is bigger than one can think, for example, it’s the size of the United Kingdom without Scotland. The country is constantly dreaming and making an effort to getting recognition from the International Community. The main income source of people in the country is repatriated money from families abroad, international aid and sale of animals. There are many advantages for people living in this country, such as Somaliland pays one of the lowest rates for mobile calls in the world.
While this has limited Somaliland’s access to international markets, it has not prevented the breakaway state from making steady democratic gains and attracting foreign investment. Some analysts say Somaliland, which has a distinct history and remains more stable than the rest of Somalia, has a strong case for independence. Others fear that international recognition would encourage other secessionist movements in Africa.
“From the Somalilanders’ perspective, they have a completely reasonable argument,” says Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Centre. “Somaliland is trying to break off from Somalia, which hasn’t been a functioning country in decades.”
No foreign government recognizes its sovereignty, but many effectively acknowledge the region as separate from Somalia. Some, such as France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the European Union, sent a delegation to observe Somaliland’s 2017 presidential election.
By Karishma Gwalani