The legal wrangling over the Act of Union between the two States of Somaliland and Somalia in 1960.



The constitutionality of the Act was not fully clear, as no formal Act of Union had been signed in time. 

Mohamed  I. Trunji
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

 On June 26, 1960, the previous British Protectorate of Somaliland turned impartial. However maybe Somaliland will go down in historical past as a rustic with the shortest spell of independence for, on July 1, 5 days later united with Somalia, former United Nations Belief territory below Italian administration.

The aim of this text is to stipulate a number of the issues that triggered the delay to provide in time a single textual content of Act of Union. Sixty years have now elapsed for the reason that union was proclaimed, and but the controversy on its legality reveals no signal of abating and stays a extremely divisive topic.

When it was determined to unite with Somaliland Protectorate, the federal government and the Nationwide Legislative Meeting within the Belief Territory had been totally busy with pressing issues requiring completion earlier than July 1960. The proceedings of the Political Committee accountable for drafting the Structure, the work of the Constituent Meeting, not but began, had been a number of the issues that absorbed the eye of the political leaders in Mogadiscio. Along with this, a plan for the flowery ceremonies celebrating independence additionally required a substantial period of time and a spotlight. 

On April 6, 1960 the Somaliland Legislative Council handed a decision calling for ‘independence and unification with Somalia‘on July 1, 1960, the identical date when Somalia will attain its full independence. Nonetheless, for some unspecified causes, the date was subsequently superior to June 26, 5 days earlier than the independence of the Belief Territory. (Report of the Somaliland Protectorate Constitutional Convention, held in London Might, 1960)

The Union of Somaliland and Somalia Regulation

On April 16, 1960 a call was reached at a convention in Mogadiscio between Northerners and Southerners Somali leaders. The convention reached a call calling for the 2 territories to be united on July 1, 1960. Having reached settlement on the Mogadiscio convention on the broad ideas of the union, it was essential to spell out its authorized foundations. It was then deliberate that, following the proclamation of the independence of the Belief Territory, an Act of Union  can be signed by the representatives of the impartial States of Somaliland and Somalia. The instrument would assume the character of a world settlement and can be legally binding on each States. To implement this plan, on June 18, 1960, over the past stage of the deliberations of the Constituent Meeting, the President of the Political Committee, Hon. Aden Abdulla, proposed the addition of the next clause within the Structure: ‘Instantly after signing the Act of Union of the 2 Somali territories (Somalia and Somaliland) the brand new Nationwide Meeting shall elect …a provisional President of the Republic (40th assembly of the Constituent Meeting on June 18, 1960 (quoted by G.A. Castanzo in “Problemi costituzionali della Somalia nella preparazione all’indipendenza 1957-1960”, 1962) This proposal was accepted and included within the transitional and last provisions of the Structure. (Article 1, paragraph 2 of the transitional and last provisions of 1960 structure). What really occurred, nonetheless, differed from the plan and the above-mentioned provision, as at their assembly on the 27 June 1960, day after the independence, the Somaliland Legislative Meeting handed “The Union of Somaliland and Somalia Regulation” (Regulation N. 1 of 1960, complement No. 2 to the Somaliland Gazette, Vol. 1 No. 3, dated fifth July 1960) incorporating the proposed Act of Union beforehand despatched to Mogadiscio weeks earlier than.

The preamble contained the next wording: “NOW, we the signatories hereof being the duly licensed representatives of the peoples of Somaliland and Somalia and having vested in us the facility to make and enter into this Regulation on behalf of our respective States and peoples, do hereby solemnly  and within the identify of God the compassionate and Merciful agree as follows”: Part 1 (a) “The State of Somaliland and the State of Somalia  do herby unite and shall without end stay united in a brand new, impartial, democratic, unitary Republic the identify whereof shall be the SOMALI REPUBLIC. (b) The capital of the Somali Republic shall be Mogadiscio.

The primary function of the regulation had been the ‘circumstances of union’ together with citizenship, the pinnacle of State, government authority, legislative energy, the appliance of the structure, succession to rights and liabilities and different issues.

On June 30 the Legislative Meeting of the Belief territory adopted an Atto di Unione  (Act of Union) “in precept” and requested the federal government of Somalia to determine with the federal government of Somaliland a definitive single textual content of the Act of Union, to be submitted to the Nationwide Meeting for approval. Nonetheless, there was no time for the 2 governments to fulfill and agree on definitive single textual content because the Meeting had requested.

The Union Proclaimed

At midnight of June 30, the President of the Nationwide Meeting, Hon. Aden Abdulla, in his capability because the Provisional President of the Republic, proclaimed the independence of the State of Somalia. Throughout the identical night time he promulgated the Structure, which got here into power instantly.

Within the morning of July 1, the members of the Legislative Assemblies of Somaliland and Somalia met in joint session as the primary Nationwide Meeting. The President of the Meeting proclaimed the union and the members sealed it by standing ovation. It appeared that the constitutionality of the Act was not fully clear, as no formal Act of Union had been signed as required by the Structure. (Article 1, paragraph 2 of the transitional and last provisions).. “Neither facet appeared more likely to jeopardize the de facto union by querying its legality this present day”, commented the British Ambassador in Mogadiscio.( TNA FO 371/146955 dated August 5, 1960) In the identical day, the Meeting elected Aden Abdulla as Provisional President of the Republic. 

Paolo Contini, an American authorized skilled, conversant in the Somali Structure regulation, wrote that: “there was little question that on the primary of July, a full and lawful union was fashioned by the desire of the 2 peoples of the 2 territories via their elective representatives. Nonetheless, the authorized formulation had not been accomplished in time. The Union of Somaliland and Somalia Regulation didn’t have any authorized validity within the South and the approval ‘in precept’ of the Atto di Unione by the Legislative Meeting of Somalia was not enough to make legally binding in that territory” (Contini, 1969).

In a final minute try and formulize the union on July 1, the Provisional President of the Republic signed a decree-law with a a lot shorter than the Atto di Unione. Whoever, this decree-law was by no means introduced to the Nationwide Meeting for conversion into regulation, as offered in article 63 of the Structure, and subsequently it by no means got here into power

The matter was clarified seven months later by the adoption of a brand new Act of Union accredited by the Nationwide Meeting by acclamation with retroactive impact as from July 1, 1960 for the entire territory of the Republic (Act of Union, Regulation No. 5 of January 31, 1961)

Mohamed I. Trunji


  1. “The matter was clarified seven months later by the adoption of a brand new Act of Union accredited by the Nationwide Meeting by acclamation with retroactive impact as from July 1, 1960 for the entire territory of the Republic (Act of Union, Regulation No. 5 of January 31, 1961)”

    As the above conclusion was made, it clear the article falls short of the facts and didn’t highlight the details which are important in legal matters. For example, the fact the there was no binding Act of Union in the first place renders all subsequent laws unenforceable.

    For example, you hold a referendum for a legally united country where the two states entered into a mutual union which is legally ratifies in both houses of the two states.

    There are no legal basis for subjecting another state to whim of your majority without first establishing a legally binding Union. Majority of Somaliland population rejected the referendum for precisely that.

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