Today’s Somaliland Update explores a couple of threads, looking at how Somaliland is already a reliable member of the international community in terms of its acceptance of international norms of behavior as well as its participation in sending aid missions to less well-off nations, like Somalia, its former overlord. Additionally, we see how Somaliland is already acting within the international business landscape by engaging in business practices under the legal umbrella of other countries, like the Netherlands specifically.
Op/Ed: Somaliland A Reliable Partner Against Piracy
Somaliland247 reported on a passionate and logically argued editorial that demonstrates how Somaliland is a reliable partner in the international community against piracy already . These developments have already been covered at length in this blog, but it is worthwhile to review them once again. Somaliland is a stable government and a functioning democracy in a very unstable region of the world (its neighbors include Yemen and Somalia). It is a nation sufficiently interested in international law to have willingly built on its soil prisons to house pirates that other nations in the region (like Kenya and the Seychelles) are unwilling or unable to house. It also regularly cooperates with nations like the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, and Norway against piracy to help make international trade safer in a very critical region at the base of the Red Sea.
However, it does all of this under heavy disadvantages, because of all of the territory of the former nation of Somalia (which exists as a nation merely by honorary standards) is under a UN Arms Embargo. Other parts of Somalia (like Puntland) have shown no problems in violating this embargo with the support of Russia and South Africa, but so far Somaliland has shown itself to be obedient to international law even though it unjustly is not a full member of the international community yet. It has been obedient to these rules despite the fact that it had no part in making them, that its own existence is not recognized, and the fact that it hinders efforts to limit piracy. If the world is really serious about dealing with piracy in the Indian Ocean along the cost of what was once the nation of Somalia, Somaliland is an ideal partner in these efforts—it has a stable and fair government, it has a willing desire to abide by international norms, and it has a strong relationship with nations that are serious about business and trade. The only thing the international community has to lose by supporting Somaliland as a state is swallowing a little pride for having supported a state that has been lacking in any legitimacy as any unity for two decades. And of what worth is such foolish pride compared to the possibility of making real improvements now in safety and trade in a very dangerous part of the world?
Somaliland Sends Its First Aid Mission To Somalia
In an action that was both humane and deeply ironic, the nation of Somaliland recently sent its first ever aid mission to its former overlord of Somalia to help some 9,000 victims of drought in Somalia’s “capital” of Mogadishu. The aid is enough food to feed 9,000 people displaced by drought from Mogadishu for one month, as well as medical supplies for four hospitals. Considering that Somaliland is not recognized as a nation and is not very wealthy itself, the movie is a very generous one, being equivalent to a poor person giving charity to someone who was basically homeless and destitute. It is a noble act, one that many far more wealthy nations are often reluctant to provide, and again demonstrates the fact that Somaliland, despite its shadowy status in international circles, is quite willing to follow civilized norms of behavior for states.
The aid comes from USD$700,000 that had been donated by civilians and the national government of Somaliland. Part of the aid is going to Mogadishu and part of it to the Somalis suffering in absolutely horrible conditions in the refugee camps in Kenya at Dadaab. For its part, the mayor of Mogadishu, who has one of the most thankless and unplesant political positions in the entire world, was pleased and gratified to receive the aid from Somaliland. As embarrassing as it is to receive aid from a nation you refuse to recognize, Somalia is at the point of destitution where pride is simply no longer an issue and where survival is at stake for a large portion of the population. In such circumstances, help is welcome no matter who it comes from.
ExtendedBITS: An Unusual Solution To Somaliland’s Recognition Problem
ExtendedBITS is a company that has received some fairly extensive coverage in Somaliland circles , including a BBC interview with one of its founders, Hasan Giire . ExtendedBITS is an intriguing high-tech company that is headquarted in the Netherlands and with its software factory operations in the nation of Somaliland. This is highly anomalous, since Somaliland is an unrecognized nation, and would therefore otherwise seem a very risky venture for Europeans in need of IT services to take. However, ExtendedBITS has solved the problem by organizing itself under Dutch law. Even its operations in Somaliland are done by the standards of Dutch law (though the company has been set up in Somaliland under Somaliland regulations also, a process that takes far less time than in the remainder of Africa—often 3 days instead of 40).
The solution of gaining the respect and business of European clients is an innovative one, and one that has a lot of implications for the enforcement of law around the world. If it is possible (perhaps even necessary) for an African nation like Somaliland to obey the law of a European nation that is a part of the European Union, than it would mean, in theory (and possibly in practice—though this has not been tested yet) that the judicial and governmental institutions of Dutch (and by extention European) apply in Somaliland soil. This allows a way for European power and influence to spread apart from territorial control, through the enforcement of their law in the sovereign territory of other nations who wish to do business with Europe. Such complex and interlocking systems of law have short-term positive effects for Somaliland, in allowing educated Somaliland IT professionals to gain work in Europe that would otherwise be inaccessible because of the lack of trust that Europeans have with African legal standards, even greater concerns in an unrecognized nation. In the long-term, though, such a solution would encourage the spread of European jurisprudence and regulation far outside their borders to areas that have no vote or participation in European matters, and in the case of Somaliland have no international recognition whatsoever. That may be an ominous development in the long run.