Building an international presence over building a united country? What the Somaliland mission to the UK event taught me
Somaliland was colonized by the British until 1960 when the united nations ordered it to be free from colonial rule. It then declared itself as a separate country after the demise of the Barre regime in 1991.This poured out into a rifling civil war that still continues to infect Somalia today. After 26 years of independence, it remains as an unrecognized self-declared state aiming for recognition from the international community. However, I believe efforts should be focused on establishing better relations with the south of the country.
Yesterday, I attend my first ever Somaliland mission to the UK event 26/4/2017. I was excited to learn about the judicial system my father always talked about over shah. Somaliland has a mixed judicial system comprising of customary, Islamic and statutory law.
Haji Ali Ahmed, Somaliland’s chief justice performed a lecture on the reforms and challenges of the judicial system in Somaliland. The chief justice was determined to get more females in the judicial employment sector by giving them a quota, which was of high interest to me as a female writing a dissertation on Somali women’s political participation. Though they are separate bodies, one cannot function without the other.
However, I began to feel awkward as the lecture went on. As I peered around at the younger generation dressed in smart suits, and the older generation, proudly rocking Somaliland badges, I felt a sense of nationalism in the air and a disconnect from my country as a whole.
The chief justice has achieved so much in such as short time, as he studied human rights law and has served in the position for quite some time. He has opened 14 district courts within a year and dismissed the use of minority groups and replaced it with correct term of marginalized groups. He also stressed the importance of making a place for themselves in the international community due to the country’s lack of resources. But what importance is this if the country is divided along borders with a region that is completely rejected and in complete turmoil? Somalia receives millions in international aid. If greater Somalia is established, this would be equally distributed.
Colonialism is to blame for these divisions but surely people who come from a monolinguistic and monocultural nation must not encourage them? This is sadly the case. Instead of uniting as greater Somalia, colonial constructions have been deeply embedded divisions within the country.
Ahmed would have been better suited to building bridges with the southern central Somali government which is still to this day, referred to as a fragile and weak government. Somali people are very hopeful about the new election of Farmaajo however, he faces many issues such as the ongoing civil war, famine, and threats of Islamic militancy.
Somaliland is functioning well with a small population of 4 million, but the rest of the country is not. Ahmed had great knowledge of all the law systems that Somalia has undergone and he should use expertise to transcend judicial knowledge into forming a greater Somalia.