A Somali Nation-State

A Somali Nation-State: History, culture and Somaliland’s political transition

The presentation by Dr. Michael Walls was another critical presentation we had in developing academic space for research and knowledge transfer in Hargeyisa Somaliland. Michael Walls (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer at UCL’s Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), and for the past fourteen years, his research has focused on the political economy of the Somali Horn of Africa, including the evolving political settlement in Somaliland. He has also been a part of the coordination team for international election observations in Somaliland in 2005, 2010 and 2012 as well as the 2016/17 Voter Registration process, and was Principal Investigator for the ESRC-funded research project ‘Political Settlement in Somaliland: a gendered perspective’. Michael is currently heading the international Election Observation Mission for Somaliland’s 2017 presidential election.

Summary of Presentation

Somaliland is attracting increasing attention for its stability and the cycle of elections that has taken place since a constitution was formally adopted by referendum in 2001. This event will consider research conducted by Michael Walls, culminating in the book ‘A Somali Nation-State: History, culture and Somaliland’s political transition’. In that publication, Walls argues that, rather than undergoing a process of what is frequently described as ‘democratization’, Somaliland can more accurately be seen as negotiating the difficult transition from a discursive system of extreme democracy to a representative one more suitable for nation-state governance. That transition has proven difficult in other societies that have experienced it, and many of Somaliland’s own challenges can be better understood from that perspective than the one provided by more common narratives.

Walls’ own research on this has spanned almost a decade and a half, and in the early days took a constructivist approach, with consequent impact on the methodologies employed. Relying heavily on qualitative and interview-based methods, the research relied on triangulated narratives to build a picture of the understandings of participants as to the processes that have supported Somaliland’s transition. This session will consider both methodological approaches and the findings of that research.

Participant of this presentation stressed the relevance of such spaces specially with well experienced presenters like him as it has helped attendants from all domains of research and academic space. The PhD researchers who are in their data collection, analysis and presentation have got the experience shared from his activities and young attendants who haven’t started their research even were benefited from process of topic selection, framing, scoping and methodologies as a way of assuring objectives attainment for their academic inquiry.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar within the Arab-African Horn

“Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar within the Arab-African Horn: The recent multi-faceted breakthrough of high-profile and heterogeneous Gulf foreign policies (1990s-2017)”

This presentation was a follow up on the interesting topic of our previous presentation on Berbera basing politics: Understanding actors, interests, and animosities by Najah M. Adam. We had Mr. Brendon Novel, who is doing his research on “Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar within the Arab-African Horn: The recent multi-faceted breakthrough of high-profile and heterogeneous Gulf foreign policies (1990s-2017)”. Mr. Brebdon Novel is a Master II student at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po Paris) within the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA). He is currently undertaking field work in the Arab Gulf and the Horn of Africa to document my Master’s thesis.


To what extend have Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha increased their own distinct political, military and economic presence through newly shaped offensive foreign policies in recent time, bringing about important multidimensional dynamics between both shores of the Red Sea?

The objective of this very piece of work is to show the extent to which the state-centric projections of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, characterized by high- profile, personalized and heterogeneous foreign policies towards the Arab-African Horn countries have established numerous, strong, weak and sometimes destabilizing dynamics in the “Afro-Middle Eastern sub-region” (Woodward, 2002). I argue that the Arab-African Horn is a proper field where Riyadh is projecting itself as the historical Middle Eastern Hegemon, whereas Abu Dhabi is doing so as an offensive new-comer qualified as a Gulf little Sparta, while Qatar has been propelling a long-standing mediating role. These countries, according to their own interests, strategies and windows of opportunity through the 1990s-2017 period, have developed different relationships, at different time, on different levels of robustness, with their African-Arab Horn partners. They have consequently established major macro inter-states dynamics — quite often with the help of a wide range of fully state-controlled actors/tools that serve their objectives. The dissertation also puts the analysis into a highly important historical perspective and highlights major catalytic events which have spurred the three Gulf countries to increase multidimensional interactions with Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia over the analysis period.

This stage had the objective of assuring a connection between ongoing PhD research and feeding masters as a building stage for a collaborative work among researchers which is the core aim of the ADIH platform. During the presentation key directions for methodology and ethical consideration for research work were discussed as a way of guiding the young researcher in dealing the significant but complex research area he is working on.

International Peacebuilding and Local Success

International Peacebuilding and Local Success: Assumptions and Effectiveness.

Our second phase of Academic Dialog in Hargeysa series sessions started with Dr. Severine Autesserre   who is an expert in war, peace, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and African politics Who is a Professor of Political Science, specializing in international relations and African studies, at Barnard College, Columbia University (USA). Her presentation was on her new research she is working on International Peacebuilding and Local Success: Assumptions and Effectiveness.


Existing research on war and peace lacks analysis of what allows peacebuilding to succeed at the subnational level. Instead, most scholars focus on peacebuilding failure and macro-level dynamics. This is unfortunate because the obstacles to peacebuilding are such that the most puzzling question is why international efforts sometimes succeed, rather than why they fail. The lack of focus on success is also problematic because it results in ambiguous findings. On the one hand, there is an emerging consensus that local conflict resolution is crucial to building peace. There is also an agreement that, all else being equal, international support tends to increase the chances of successful peacebuilding. On the other hand, when international actors have tried to back local initiatives, they have often generated counterproductive consequences and worsened the situation. Should international actors support local peacebuilding processes? If so, how can they actually do this?

Drawing on in-depth interviews, field and participant observations in nine different conflict zones, and document analysis, this article takes the first step in explaining whether, how, why, and under what conditions international interveners (including donors, diplomats, peacekeepers, and the foreign staff of international and non-governmental organizations) can contribute to successful local and bottom-up peace efforts. It makes three central contributions. First, it shows that the policy and scholarly literatures suffer from a dearth of findings on successful international support to local conflict resolution. Second, it emphasizes the critical—and under-researched—role of assumptions in shaping peacebuilding initiatives. Third, it develops a theoretical framework to analyze how assumptions influence international peace efforts. By way of illustration, the article analyzes three widespread assumptions about peacebuilding and the role of peacebuilders. In each case, it challenges assumptions that international interveners take for granted but that are actually unfounded and detrimental, while identifying assumptions that promote peacebuilding effectiveness.

Her presentation was during the time of the international peace day celebration for which we have got a wider public attending her session. Questions, comments and appreciation was high. Young students from local universities had the chance to converse with this international award winning writer and made use of the stage to create a l

Somaliland Presidential Elections

Somaliland Presidential Elections: Political Context, Electoral Standards and anticipated challenges (Research area currently working on it as a policy brief)

Mohamed is a PhD student in Peace, Governance and Development at the United Nations University for Peace, Africa Program in Addis Ababa. He has Bachelor Business Administration BBA, Post Graduate Diploma Peace and Conflict Studies and Master’s Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies- University of Hargeisa. He is also the Executive Director of Somaliland Non State Actors Forum (SONSAF) the largest civil society policy platform in Somaliland that coordinates all non- state actors. He has 17 years working experiences in civil society, institutional development, governance, peace- building, conflict resolution, democratization and elections. He was leading the largest domestic election observation missions in Somaliland 2010 presidential elections, 2012 local council and political parties’ elections and 2016-2017 domestic observers of voter registration and upcoming presidential elections.


Somaliland has succeeded to recover its post- conflict political polarization through indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms and constitutionalism. It is notable that multilayered political and social conflicts resolved in between 1991-1997 without external assistances and this has contributed Somaliland to establish inclusive governance and political consensus which was the premise of power sharing and broader political and clans reconciliation.

From this standpoint, the upcoming presidential elections has attracted local and international views how Somaliland will prevail consistent, transparent, free and fair elections and there are important questions that the general public and intellectuals raised:

  • What is current the political context, helpful or fragmented?
  • Does Somaliland fulfill the electoral standards of regional and international levels?
  • What is anticipated electoral constrains of the upcoming presidential elections?
  • What are the electoral dispute mechanisms that Somaliland has?

In this debate the participants discussed the above thematic areas which are central to the electoral process by aligning the past experiences of the presidential elections that took place in Somaliland 2003, 2010. In this regard, there are some fundamental electoral aspects which are needed to exam and explore the possibilities of the post- election conflicts and what were the tools used in the past elections.


K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN- directed by Iara lee

It was also part of our academic discussion to create a space for other forms of research and knowledge production areas. In this attempt w have had our first session of documentary based discussion using “K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN- directed by iara lee.


K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN- directed by iara lee

Located on the border between Pakistan and China, K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth. For many climbers, it is an even greater prize than Everest, with limited routes, a steeper ascent, and a harder push to its summit. Nicknamed the ‘Savage Mountain,’ K2’s peak juts unprotected into the atmosphere, regularly exposing climbers and porters to life-threatening weather conditions.

Despite being paid at rates far below those received by international expedition leaders, such porters—whether they provide critical supplies to expedition base camps or take on higher-altitude tasks in support of ascending climbers—do some of the most difficult and dangerous work and these efforts make them worthy of recognition as the true heroes of mountaineering.

In K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN, filmmaker Iara Lee and team chronicle the lives of both Pakistani porters and Nepalese sherpas. The film also follows the first official all-Pakistani climbing team, made up of former porters, who successfully summited in 2014, in celebration of K2 60th anniversary. Amid breathtaking scenery, the film depicts the everyday sacrifices of porters and the courage of those indigenous climbers who choose to return to scale K2 in spite of past tragedies. In their striving to perfect their craft, these mountaineers provide a fresh look into the cultures and national traditions of Pakistan, a country typically portrayed in the foreign media as merely a land of conflict and sectarian strife

The discussion was worth the time since it has made it clear that such recording an knowledge production.

Environmental and Economic Impacts of Climate Change

Environmental and Economic Impacts of Climate Change and Global Trade (a published Phd Research)

Dr. Mohamud Hashi Hussein, Executive Director of Agribusiness Solutions Hub (ASH). Mohamud is an agricultural economist with research interest in the analysis of agricultural, food and environmental policies. His research skills and expertise include food safety and quality systems, econometric analysis of food demand and economic modelling of regulation. Mohamud has authored numerous reports, co-authored book chapters and published research articles in high-ranking journals including, Food Policy, Food Quality and Preference, Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics and Journal of Agricultural Economics. Mohamud has a Laurea degree in Agricultural Sciences with Economics (University of Perugia, Italy), MSc in Agricultural Economics (Imperial College London, UK) and PhD in Agri-Environmental Economics (University of Kent, UK)


Environmental and Economic Impacts of Climate Change and Global Trade Climate change and globalization-driven spread of pests and diseases are increasingly a major threat to environment and human welfare. For example, higher average winter temperatures, combined with increased trade of palm trees in the Mediterranean region have resulted in the spread of a pest (insect) called Red Palm Weevil, which has in turn caused substantial environment damage and economic loses over the past three decades.

In this talk, I intend to provide an overview of the impact of this pest and discuss analytical tools economists use to assess such impact to inform mitigation policies for the eradication and controls of pest and disease spread. The goal is to draw a Somaliland-relevant inferences from the analysis presented and hopefully to inspire other researchers to learn more about the topic.

Berbera Basing Politics

Berbera Basing Politics: Understanding Actors, Interests, and Animosities (Risks) (published Article with in the research domain of the Researcher’s PhD research)

Najah M. Adam is a third-year PhD candidate in Political Science, with specialization in Diplomacy and International Affairs, at the Euclid University in Gambia. The researcher has Masters Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from Kampala University, Uganda, and Bachelor Degree from University of Hargeisa, Somaliland. The academically interest of the researcher lies in variety of areas, including understanding structures, norms, theories, and policy actions that are posing a constant, and long-term challenges to the life of the common man. Has recently published an academic


The presence of forward forces in foreign soil is not a modern notion, but puzzling when a small state projects its military might in multiple locations, having a similar strategic importance. The lese of military base by United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) in Berbera is a case in point, which attracted a reproach from the public, and the politicians. The joint parliament sitting to approve the draft agreement further complicated the reproach, resulting many stakeholders to argue that the approval process suffered insufficient consultation, citing ambiguity and suspicion. Berbera basing politics is critical to Somaliland’s national security, but gained  a  little  scholarly  attention  that  can explain     the      rationale,       and     the underlying assumptions. This academic research tends to provide a qualitative assessment on impact of UAE’s overseas defense posture on Somaliland political direction. Specifically, it analyzes the structural   architect        of        the      basing          politics including actors, interests, risks (animosities), and prophesy on scenarios for use. This paper uses secondary and primary sources to sketch out the key issues; it also employs relevant international relations

Theories: security dilemma, deterrence, defensive, proxy war, geopolitics, pre-emption, beggar-thy-neighbor, and safe-haven concepts to make sense on this matter.

Analyses of Structural Changes in Livestock Trade

Analyses of Structural Changes in Livestock Trade in Berbera Corridor, Somaliland: Before, During and After War

Ahmed M. Musa is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Science (CAVS) under GOVSEA project. Ahmed has a Post Graduate Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies, Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and Master’s degree in Public Administration and Management, from Uganda. Ahmed is currently undertaking PhD in Dryland Resource Management at the University of Nairobi (UoN) in Kenya. Ahmed had previously worked for Observatory of Conflict and Violence Prevention (OCVP), ActionAid International Somaliland (AAIS), Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC)/Interpeace. Ahmed had previously worked with reputable research organizations such as Rift Valley Institute (RVI) and Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway (PRIO). Ahmed’s main interests include post-war economics and governance, issues in the Horn of Africa drylands which range from livelihoods, resilience to governance. Ahmed has taught in Admas University College, Civil Service Institute (CSI) and Beder International University (BIU). Ahmed’s panel of supervisors are: Prof. Tobias Hagmann from Roskilde University in Denmark, Prof. Stephen G. Mbogoh and Dr. Oliver Wasonga from University of Nairobi, Kenya.


Livestock production and trade play an important role in the lives of people in the Horn of Africa (HoA). Historically, people in Somaliland largely practiced pastoralism (Walls 2014). As far back as 1838, the British had engaged in livestock trade in Somaliland to supply food to its military garrison in the Gulf of Adan. Since then, livestock has been the main export commodity for Somaliland, contributing an estimated 60% of the GDP; 15% of government revenue and employment to more than 70% of the population (Samatar et al. 1988; Renders 2012; MoNPD 2012; Mugunieri et al. 2016). Furthermore, 50-80% of pastoral household incomes in Somaliland come from sale of their livestock ( Mugunieri, et al. 2016). Revenues generated from livestock trade account for the largest foreign export earnings both pre-war Somalia and post-war Somaliland, with MoNPD (2012) estimating that 85% of the Somaliland export earnings come from livestock trade. Berbera port has remained the main gateway of livestock export to some designated markets in the Arabian Gulf (De Waal 1996; Renders 2012; MoNPD 2012; APD 2002).

In the last 100 years, there have been structural changes in the livestock production and trade in Somaliland (APD 2002). The structural changes that affect livestock trade include social, economic, political, environmental and technological (ibid). Some of these changes are war-induced and affect both livestock trade and livelihoods. Little academic research has been done on the changes in the livestock trade and their implications on trade and livelihoods; most of the literature on livestock trade along the Berbera corridor exists in the form of gray literature. In addition, Somaliland’s post-war ‘economic recovery owes a great deal to the livestock trade’, therefore, understanding structural changes in the livestock trade is essential to understanding post-war economic changes in Somaliland (APD 2002). It is in the light of these that, this PhD research will aim to understand livestock trade in terms of the structural changes since late 1980s and their implications on trade and traders.

Hybrid Systems of Governance

Hybrid Systems of Governance as a Strategy for Conflict Resolution in Somaliland: Challenges and Prospects.

(The is presentation was not a PhD proposal but it is a published article by the researcher who is hopeful to make it his PhD project working area.)

Abdullahi Odowa is a General Director for the Observatory of Conflict and Violence Prevention, responsible for overseeing its strategic and organizational direction as well as organizational overall management and daily operations. He holds a B.Sc from the University of Maiduguri in Nigeria, MA in Natural Resources and Peace from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica and MA in Peacebuilding from Centre of Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University in the UK. He is currently persuading his PhD in Peace Governance and Development from United Nations Mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica.


The collapse of the central government of Somalia and the creation of the Republic of Somaliland has led to a new power struggle between political elders and political elites, with each party striving to get access to state resources and power. Whilst political elders enjoy the respect of different clans, they lack the formal education and experience needed to establish and run modern state institutions, while the political elites were weakened by internal division and lacked legitimacy, but acquired some formal education and experience that they can use to run a modern state. Hence, the two parties have quickly realized their dependence on each other for political survival, and have finally decided to resolve their differences through a constructive way of sharing state power through the formation of a hybrid system of governance that allows the traditional authority to be incorporated into state institutions. Whereas the hybrid political order seemed to have worked well for protecting the interests of the two parties, it has arguably failed to address the contemporary political, social and economic challenges facing the people of Somaliland. Failure to modify the hybrid system of governance after more than two decade of its formation has produced several shortcomings that, if not address properly through political and institutional reforms, could undermine the hard gained peace and stability in Somaliland. The article argues that the hybrid political order in Somaliland was a conflict resolution strategy used to resolve power related conflict between political elders and political elites, and not necessarily a long-term vision of establishing viable state institutions.

The Political Economy of unrecognized States

The Political Economy of unrecognized States: understanding Secessionism, Sovereignty and Democracy in the Horn of Africa: The Case of the ‘Republic of Somaliland’.

Mohamed Osman Guudle is a Doctoral (PhD) Candidate in Political Science and International Relations at the Faculty of Economics, Istanbul University, Istanbul Turkey. Mohamed is a Somaliland Scholar whose main research interests are Economics, Politics, Political Economy of the Horn of Africa, mainly the Economics, Society, State and Politics of the Somalis in the Horn of Africa. He has M.A degree in Development Economics from Unity University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and MSc degree in Economics from Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul Turkey. His main research areas are Economics, Political Economy of Development, Political Economy of Colonialism and Socialism in Somaliland, Somalia and Ethiopia. Mohamed is currently writing a PhD dissertation on ” Political Economy of unrecognized States: understanding Secession-ism, Sovereignty and Democracy in the Horn of Africa: The Case of the ‘Republic of Somaliland’.


In 1897, Somaliland officially became a British protectorate (Spears, 2010:121; Farley, 2010:779; Bradbury 2008:26) and on 26 June 1960 British Somaliland got its independence from Great Britain (Jhazbhay 2009; Hansen and Bradbury 2007: 463). Four days later, it joined Italian Somaliland upon the latter’s independence on 1 July of the same year to form the Republic of Somalia (Farley 2010; Bradbury 2008; Hansen and Bradbury 2007). British Somalilanders pressed hard for the consummation of the union while the Italian Somalilanders wanted to proceed cautiously.

In this study, it mainly assesses the defining theoretical attributes of unrecognized entities2 and exposes theoretical paradigms encountered when these attributes are applied in the case of unrecognized states such as Somaliland. Some scholars argue that the theoretical space occupied for example by Iraqi Kurdistan in political science and international relations theory, the work may be viewed as part of a specific body of literature dealing with unrecognized entities which has continued to develop since the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s.


Somaliland is remarkable because it exists in oblivion (Kaplan, 2008). Although the Horn of Africa is no newcomer to the peering eyes of the international community, the spotlight shines upon the seemingly unending spirals of violence, piracy and poverty of Somalia, but rarely upon the goings on in Somaliland –an unrecognized state in the northern regions of Somalia. In contrast to the warlords, and corrupt governments in the region, Somaliland “undoubtedly has the most democratic political system in the entire Horn of Africa,” (Kaplan, 2008: 143). 3

Will Somaliland be the next independent state? The case for recognition as a sovereign state is strong, from a legal standpoint. In fact, “in terms of international law Somaliland holds some very strong cards –stronger than, for example, Bosnia some years ago –qualifying it as an independent state,” (Doornbos, 2002: 96). These cards include its previous status as a sovereign state in 1960, and the fulfillment of the 1933 Montevideo Convention criteria for statehood (Kaplan, 2008: 153).

This study will assess the case of the ‘Republic of Somaliland’ 4as de facto unrecognized state in the Horn of Africa. The debate about self-determination can be divided into three broad categories: state-centric, society-centric and legalistic (Bereketeab, 2012). This thesis will mainly discuss the secessionism, sovereignty and democracy in the “Republic of Somaliland” as unrecognized defacto state in former Northern Somali Republic5. The central questions are, how does Somaliland come into existence? What are the roots of Somaliland’s secessionism and self-determination? It also tries to understand how Somaliland’s democratization process took place from 1991 to present?

In order to investigate and empirically analyze these theoretical considerations, this thesis will undertake qualitative research along the lines of a “structured, case study comparison” (George etal, 2005; Gerring 2007) of a controllable number of case studies. Case study research, through reports of past studies, allows the exploration and understanding of complex issues.

It can be considered a robust research method particularly when a holistic, in-depth investigation is required. Recognized as a tool in many social science studies, the role of case study method in research becomes more prominent when issues with regard to different fields in the Social Science (Gulsecen & Kubat, 2006), and sociology (Grassel & Schirmer, 2006). A central advantage of the case study approach is that it does not run the risk of ‘conceptual stretching’ (Sartori 1970, 1984). Mainly the data of this thesis will comprise interviews, field research notes, as well as published and unpublished materials dealing with the Somaliland case. There will be 1-year field work starting from February 2017 to February 2018.


The Hargeysa Cultural Center was opened in August 2014 in Hargeysa, Somaliland. The Center was established by Redsea Cultural Foundation (RCF). Since its establishment, the Hargeysa Cultural Center has become an important feature in Hargeysa’s cultural landscape. The success of the center owes much to the respect that RCF has gained from its work on running the annual Hargeysa International Book Fair, which, now in its eighth year, has become one of the most admired cultural events in the region.

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