A Modest Proposal For A Plebiscite To Resolve The Status Of The Republic Of Somaliland


We hereby resolve to fix a date, as soon as possible, for an internationally supervised plebiscite throughout the territory of Somaliland to determine the will of its people to either remain as part of Somalia de jure or to be granted immediately fully recognized status as an independent state with all of the rights and responsibilities therein, including the freedom to set up a recognized military to defend its borders and territorial waters, and the right to join international organizations as it wishes in order to pursue its interests.


This resolution is justified by the previous identity of Somaliland as an independent state [1] before its ill-fated union with the former colony of Italian Somaliland, giving Somaliland a separate identity that it has continued to hold throughout the independent history of Somalia [2] and in its own thirty years of history as an independent state that has not been recognized by Somalia despite the anarchy of Somalia’s history after the fall of Siad Barre and the fact that Somaliland has held numerous free and fair elections that included the peaceful transfer of party between political parties, a sign of its identity as relatively stable young democracy [3]. The people of Somaliland have previously expressed their will for independence with margins similar to that of South Sudan [4], yet the previous clear will of the people of Somaliland has not been recognized by international community at large.

In 2006, the world welcomed the independence of the nation of Montenegro, a state that had a long period of separate identity from Serbia but whom it had been forced together after World War I in another ill-advised union that subordinated its identity to that of its much larger neighbor, an identity that became a liability thanks to the behavior of former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic. Despite the hostility of many international organizations to the division of countries, this result was recognized as a free and fair decision of the people of Montenegro and that nation has been free to conduct its affairs as a small sovereign state [5].

The situation of Somaliland is similar to that of Montenegro, as an area that even during its period of identity with Somalia (between 1960 and 1991), it retained its own separate identity, had a period of its own independence (even though brief) and a long separate identity as British Somaliland as opposed to Italian Somaliland (the core territory of Somalia) and French Somaliland (the area that is now known as Djibouti), both of which are their own sovereign states. Somaliland, with a population of about 3.5 million and its own currency (along with a current per capita income of about $347 [6]), has about four and a half times the population of the neighboring state of Djibouti [7] (which has about 850,000 residents), and more than half the size of the nation of Eritrea [8], which had a similar claim for independence given its independent identity as well as similar record of historical wrongs against Ethiopia.

The wrongs against Somaliland are notable and in many cases of a level that has justified the independence of other areas. For example, the Somali government of Siad Barre systematically persecuted the Isaaq clan (whose territory is roughly contiguous with the region of Somaliland), including the destruction of the major cities of Hargeisa (the capital of Somaliland), Burao, and the port of Berbera. This savage mistreatment included not only the destruction of infrastructure like roads and buildings through bombardment as well as the destruction of water wells and grazing grounds and the rape of women, leading to a massive refugee crisis and many deaths [9], along with the permanent loss of trust among the people of Somaliland to any sort of institutions coming from Mogadishu. This mistrust is entirely warranted, given the horrors of their experiences under decades of Somali misrule. Given the fact that nations with similar historical grievances and distinct cultural identities (East Timor, Kosovo, Eritrea, Montenegro, Palestine, Western Sahara, South Sudan) have similarly well-supported international movements to defend their interests, and in many cases have been given their own independence as a result of internationally monitored and endorsed plebiscites, it is only just for the people of Somaliland to have their own chance to declare plainly their wishes for freedom and their acceptance of the responsibilities entailed in freedom and to take their place as a free nation.

Given the strong potential for infrastructure development that would connect Somaliland peacefully with its neighbors, especially serving as an entrepot for Ethiopia as well as a key geographical figure in the defense of freedom of the seas against piracy given its strategic location at the base of the Red Sea, a strong and prosperous Somaliland can serve as a key element of the regime of international law in the region, rather than the diplomatic equivalent of an oversized leper colony that no one wants to recognize. Surely a people who fought bravely against British imperialism and then for decades against Somali oppression deserve a fair opportunity for success as a free people of their own. Let us give them that chance, and cast aside vain dreams of a united and stable Somalia until it can fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the Somali people themselves and conform to the standards of civilized conduct. In the meantime, any region of Somalia that seeks to provide for the well-being of its own people should be free to do so with the full blessing of the international community. This ought to be especially true for Somaliland given their lengthy existence as a de facto nation, a functioning democracy with its own currency and other accoutrements of independence [10], and its own distinct cultural and imperial heritage, all of which has typically led to the granting of status as an independent state in other contexts. Let this proposal therefore be accepted and implemented as soon as possible.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/today-in-history-on-june-26-1960-somaliland-become-an-independent-nation-for-the-first-time/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/book-review-somalia-the-missed-opportunities/


[3] See, for example:





[4] See, for example:



[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montenegrin_independence_referendum,_2006

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somaliland

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djibouti

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrea

[9] See, for example:



See, for example, this quote from the above site for the UN International Mission to Somalia: “The freshly independent Somalis loved politics, every nomad had a radio to listen to political speeches, and remarkable for a Muslim country, women were also active participants, with only mild mumblings from the more conservative sectors of society. Despite this promising start, there were significant underlying problems, most notably the north/south economic divide and the Ogaden issue. In hindsight it might have made more sense to create two separate countries from the outset, rather than re-uniting the very distinct halves of Somalia and hoping for the best. Also, long held distrust of Ethiopia and the deeply ingrained belief that Ogaden was rightfully part of Somalia, should have been properly addressed prior to independence. The north and south spoke different languages (English vs Italian respectively) had different currencies, and different cultural priorities.”

[10] See, for example:
























































About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, International Relations, Musings, Somaliland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Modest Proposal For A Plebiscite To Resolve The Status Of The Republic Of Somaliland

  1. Pingback: Unconscious Coupling | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Having Your Cake And Eating It Too | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: A Modest Proposal For The Development Of Rail Infrastructure In The United States | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: On The Applicability Of Divorce Law To The Recognition Of New Sovereign States | Edge Induced Cohesion

  5. Pingback: You Never Once Talked Turkey To Me | Edge Induced Cohesion

  6. Pingback: Book Review: Micro Nations: The Lonely Planet Guide To Home-Made Nations | Edge Induced Cohesion

  7. Pingback: Book Review: How To Start Your Own Country | Edge Induced Cohesion

  8. Pingback: A Somali On The Margins | Edge Induced Cohesion

  9. Pingback: A Modest Proposal For The Development Of Sermon Collections | Edge Induced Cohesion

  10. Pingback: Somali vs. Somalian: On The Weaponization Of Identity | Edge Induced Cohesion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s