Legal Case for Sovereignty:-
Somaliland claim of sovereignty and 23 years’ practice of independence suffer from lack of proper information, pervasive misunderstanding, and anxiety of opening up a Pandora’s Box. Considering objectively Somaliland’s case for sovereignty and diplomatic recognition dispels these problems.
- Somaliland’s claim for independence is based primarily on historical title:
ü As a British Protectorate, it had a colonial history different from that of the former Italian colony of Somalia;
ü It attained independence from Britain in 1960 before it voluntarily entered into the failed union with Somalia;
ü The universal referendum of the Somaliland citizens affirmed by an overwhelming majority (over 97%) Somaliland’s decision to reclaim its independence.
- Britain granted and recognized the independence of Somaliland in 1960 before Somaliland opted as a sovereign nation for unification with Somalia—Somaliland like other countries (Egypt and Syria, Senegal and Mali, Senegal and Gambia for instance) should be allowed to opt out of the failed union
- Somaliland’s independence restores the colonial borders of the former British Protectorate of Somaliland and therefore does not violate the OAU Charter or the Consultative Act of the African Union principle that former colonial borders should be maintained upon independence.
- The validity of the 1960 Act of Union was deeply flawed;
- In June 1960, representatives from Somaliland and Somalia each signed different Acts of Union agreeing to different terms of unification,
- The official Act of Union was passed retrospectively in January 1961 by the new National Assembly in which Somalia was overrepresented,
- In the referendum of the new Constitution of the Somali State held in June 1961, the Somaliland population did not vote due to discontent with its intent, method, and management. Only less than 17% turned out and an overwhelming majority of them voted against the so-called Act of Union.
- The unification of Somaliland and Somalia failed to meet domestic or international legal standards for treaty formation; the Act of Union falls short of the Vienna Convention’s legal requirements for a valid international treaty.
- Somaliland meets the criteria for statehood as set by the 1993 Montevideo Convention, generally considered a norm of customary international law:
- A permanent population
Somaliland has a population of approximately 3.5 million of nomadic, agrarian, and commercial sectors.
- A defined territory
- Effective Government.
- Capacity to enter relations with other States
The population of Somaliland suffered chronic inequity and injustice during the union with Somalia; opposition by discontented military officers to the union that started in 1961, less than a year after the union, gathered mass support in the 1970s and led to armed opposition in the 1980s.
- The indiscriminate bombardment of the military regime on population centers and the genocide that followed in 1988 resulted in the 18 May 1991 reclamation of independence and affirmation of the right for self-determination