Sunday, October 31, 2010


New York, Oct 31 2010 12:10PM
The United Nations envoy for Somalia on Sunday called on the country's new Prime Minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, to form his government and move forward on meeting the challenges in the strife-torn Horn of Africa nation.

"I congratulate Prime Minister Mohamed and encourage him to form his government so that he can gain momentum in completing the critical tasks ahead during this transitional period," Augustine P. Mahiga, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, said in a news release issued after the new leader was confirmed.

Mr. Mahiga also acknowledged the support and close collaboration of the international community, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in supporting and encouraging the cohesion and coherence within the Somali transitional institutions.

Mr. Mohamed was named to the position by Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ah
med two weeks ago, following the resignation in September of Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke.

The country, which has been torn apart by decades of conflict and factional strife, more recently with al-Shabaab Islamic militants, has not had a functioning central government since 1991. It also faces a dire humanitarian crisis in which 3.2 million people, more than 40 per cent of the population, is in need of aid.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Somalia women discuss peace and security challenges

Somalia women discuss peace and security challenges
Delegates from Somalia at a UNIFEM gender forum in Nairobi
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of United Nations Council resolution on women, peace and security, grassroots women from Somalia participated in a consultative workshop sponsored by UNIFEM.

Meeting at Nairobi, Kenya, the delegates discussed various challenges facing Somalia women in light of political, social and economic situation in the country.

According to UNIFEM consultant in Somalia Charity E. N. 'Buga, the seminar discussed five key issues including protection of women from sexual violence, participation and representation of women decision making at all level.

Among the Speakers were Sahra Abtidon, Sheik Jacfar, Fowsia Adam, Ali Ismail, Sahro omar, Fardowsa Omar, Fardowsa Hassan and Sahara Mohamded Mahada'alla.

The Invention of Faisal Roble: The Manipulation of Mind and Media

The Invention of Faisal Roble: The Manipulation of Mind and Media

By Mohamed Haji (Ingiriis)

The great French playwright, Molière, once said, "Un sot savant est sot plus qu'un sot ignorant," which literally means, "An educated fool is more foolish than an uneducated fool." The Somali equivalent to this could be borrowed from Timacadde's "Doqonnimo kugu baahday, baan cidi dabiibeyne; dariiq toosan Soomaaliyey waa lagaa dadaye; dugsi ma leh qabyaaladi waxay dumiso mooyaane."

 Faisal Roble

One such Madaale pseudo-intellectual is Feisal Abdi Roble, editor of Wardheer Newswebpage, who recites what he frames 'Marxist School of Thought'. Perhaps, my father – to say the least – would not permit me to write this rebuttal to Faisal Roble (I should underline that my Dad was a senior student of Fulbright Scholarship at University of California at Davis in America when Faisal was a junior at University of California at Los Angeles. It was exactly when Dr Abdi Ismail Samatar was also a senior student there).

However, Faisal Roble, once branded 'Devil Clannish' by Somali blogger is, among other things, accustomed to discrediting certain individuals by means of clan sentiments. Over the years, I have observed him blemishing highly-reputed personalities, like President Ahmed Silanyo, President of Somaliland; Abdullahi Ahmed Addou, the longest serving Somali Ambassador to the United States; Ahmed Gure, founder of Hiiraan Online and Yusuf-Garaad Omar, Head of BBC Somali, for the sole reason of not hailing from his clan-family.

Needless to say (repeat) what he has written of them, because it is more on personal than on professional damage. In the words of Molière, "A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behaviour is patience and moderation." On the other hand, Faisal's other routine work is praising Said Samatar, a Somali scholar; Hussein Abdilkadir Qasim, a former Minister, to mention just a few, for the type of Judge Hurshe's verdict: "La jiifiyaanna bannaan, la joojiyaanna bannaan!" In his last radio interview, Faisal has narrated what he framed "the biggest clans" against "not-so-big clans." Where did he obtain on this demographical census?

But by this time, Faisal has not only shaken minds, but body as well. On Saturday morning (October 23rd), inside a so-called Somali Intellectual Forum (transformed its name recently into Talo iyo Tusaale), Faisal Roble attempted to harm the reputation of Dr Ali Jimale Ahmed, Professor of Comparative Literature at the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York. He misled the audience that the title of the book 'The Invention of Somalia' by Dr Jimale was 'plagiarising.' He was applying with a concept by a Kenyan consultant who emailed me recently: "In Somalia, everyone enjoys to embarrass everyone."

 On the contrary, if truth be told here, there is no 'plagiarising' in the title of "The Invention of Somalia" whatsoever.  From the perspective of intellectual property law, the word 'plagiarising' is a very serious accusation that must be backed up at least one peace of evidence when it comes to criticising, or discrediting one's work. In this western world and Africa in particular, there are – merely to enliven Faisal's mind – a lot of books by the title of 'The Invention.'

For instance, the title of The Invention of Somalia, as Dr Ali Jimale Ahmed visibly alluded to the preface, was inspired by 'The Invention of Ethiopia' by Holcomb and Ibbsa. He even agreed with the respective authors when they wrote in their book, "No available treatment of the history of (Somalia) dealt adequately with the factors that shaped (Somalia), that is, factors that generated the political and economic relations still found there and which account for the conflict currently raging within (Somalia)."

There are, additionally, other books on African Studies entitled with below titles:

1.      The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge by V. Y. Mudimbe.

2.      The Invention of Africa and Intellectual Neo-colonialism by Jedi Shemsu Jewheti.

3.      The Invention of Ethiopian Jewish: Three Models by Steven Kaplan.

Moreover, other numerous international books outside African sphere are:

1.      The Invention of Barack Obama by David Remnick.

2.      The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand.

3.      The Invention of Tradition by Terence Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm.

4.      The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

5.      The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy.

6.      The Invention of Objectivity: Aaron Swatz's Raw Thought by Robert McChesney.

7.      The Invention of Net Neutrality by Nancy Scola.

8.      The Invention of Lying: A comedy movie by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson.

Consequently, in Faisal's eyes, are they all exercising a 'plagiarising'? To be more precise, what about the other books – referenced frequently in African Studies – with the same titles and analogical contents? Below is an example:

       I.            The Black Man's Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation State by David Basildon.

    II.            The Black Man's Burden by Edward D. Morel.

 III.            Black Man's Burden by John Oliver Killens?

Are they too 'plagiarising' each other? Indeed, there are a lot of books with the same titles, but just to mention a few must be suffice.

When President Obama added on one of his speeches to this passage, "I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it", an American blogger wrote an op-ed piece entitled: "Obama and the Invention of the Automobile," reminding the US President of the veracity that the nation who had invented automobile was Germany, not the United States of America.

If there is a book about Somalia, to my knowledge, that sounds like a work whose name had stolen from other title – whether it is chance or intent – is the book by David D. Laitin and Said S. Samatar entitled "Somalia: Nation in Search of a State," which was written in 1987. To get the point across, in 1967, Dr Hussein M. Adam, popularly known as Hussein Tanzani, had named one of his two MA Thesis: Somalia: Nation in Search of Transcript at University of Makarere in Uganda (Dr Tanzani later earned his Ph.D. from Harvard – the first Somali who did Ph.D in Harvard).

Nonetheless, The Invention of Somalia, edited by Dr Jimale, is one of the best books that ever written on Somalia. It is a direct theoretical and empirical contribution to Somali Historiography, and that is noticeably what led the authors to write: "The denial of recognition to other Somali freedom fighters and their movements has to be seen as public denial that is directed against the clansmen of the spurned martyrs."

The first real attempt of The Invention of Somalia, as Dr Jimale summarised, is to identify and analyse the basic assumptions which had informed the construction of the now debunked myth of homogeneity. The authors do not only suggest, as they write, alternative ways of seeing and interpreting existing data, but also initiate and propose new ways of reading Somali past and present.

In John Killens' Black Man's Burden, a father tells his bewildered son that stories about various life-and-death struggles between a man and lion will always end like the man beating the lion (or defeating, to add my view) until the lion learns how to write. This lion's version of what had happened in (Somali) history, to quote from Dr Jimale, has in Somalia and beyond, for a long time, belonged to an underground narrative.

It is here that the two brothers – Dr Mohamed Enow and Dr Abdikadir Enow, both Bantu scholars, whom Faisal also attempted to no avail to discredit their work – deserve my gratitude for having mustered the bravery to re-examine what Dr Jimale portrays 'the Dervishization' of Somali Studies. In my viewpoint, this is to confront with the history of oppressed as written by their oppressors, and it shapes the consciousness and psychology of both oppressed and oppressor.

To manipulate History, Amos Wilson warns, is to manipulate consciousness, to manipulate consciousness is to manipulate possibilities, and to manipulate possibilities is to manipulate power. Herein lies how the autocracy had ruled Somalia for two decades. It is a call for the re-conquest of Somali minds and bodies. One Africanist scholar contends, "The most valuable resources (of human-being) are their knowledge of truth and reality of identity, minds, bodies and souls."

What Enow brothers – with Dr Jimale – are digging for is new thought for Somalia, looking for an invented (or reinvented) Somalia. It appears that Enows dedicated their lives to their people who were never permitted before a place or space, let alone a chapter, for Somali Historiography when myths likea Pastoral Democracy was dominating Somali Studies. Thanks partly to academics like Catherine Besteman, Francesca Declich and Virginia Luling, among others, their history was invented, yet contemporary Somali thought (and theme) seems to be intrinsically a product of the pastoralist proponents. Until very recently, the history of some Somalis among us was persona non-grata in Somali Historiography.

Lee Cassanelli, in The Shaping of Somali Society, came to a comparable conclusion: "Somali Society ought to be regarded as the product of interactions among small groups of herdsmen, farmers, itinerant Sheikhs, and townsmen who came together under diverse circumstances in the past and whose modern sense of national identity derives less from primordial sentiments than from a set of shared historical experiences."

Alas, there are some new Somali graduates who see Faisal Roble as an intellectual, but the term itself entails to be defined. As they say, "Not every educated is intellectual, but every intellectual is educated." In Somali way of thinking, an intellectual is simply an ordinary person, not necessarily a tweedy-Kantian. William Finnegan contended in an article on New Yorker that "Somali intellectuals" are "just people with degrees."

This is how Dr Jimale defines intellectual persona: "An intellectual (of any sort) is the person who, to quote from Gramsci, 'assumes that the purpose of discussion is the pursuit of truth.' Such an intellectual is one who attempts to identify problems, reflects on them, and does not shy away from asking hard and unpleasant questions and who suggests, not imposes, some type of solution the problem under scrutiny. An intellectual is also the one who understands the validity of Somali poet… Chinese adage, to know and not to act is not to know. The trouble with Somali intellectuals emanates from what Hisham Sharabi calls 'a fetishized consciousness' which manifests itself in both imitation and passivity."

As for the question of Somali irredentism, which Faisal mentioned, one may enjoy reading BANDITS ON THE BORDER: The Last Frontier in the Search for Somali Unity by Nene Mburu which is a first insider's analysis of Somalia's peculiar pursuit of Greater Somalia. I presume many have enjoyed reading Saadia Touval's Somali Nationalism, so is the one by Mburu. Charles Seymour said, ""We seek the truth, and will endure the consequences."

My final amusement to 'startle' Faisal must be on those shocking lines: What about your favourite bookNomad Diaries by Yaasmiin Maxamuud, published in 2009? Wasn't she plagiarised her title by the book with the same title: The Nomad Diaries by Chris Minh Doky, published in 2007, or, is the name emanated from Urban Diaries by Walter Hood and Leah Levy, published in 1997? Pardon me, we need elucidation, man!

By Mohamed Haji (Ingiriis)


Friday, October 29, 2010

Somali author Nadifa Mohamed up for first book prize

Somali author Nadifa Mohamed up for first book prize

Mohamed's debut novel Black Mamba Boy is published by HarperCollins

An author born in Somalia has been shortlisted for the 2010 Guardian First Book award.
Nadifa Mohamed, who spent her early years in Hargeisa, Somaliland, before moving to the UK, is cited for her debut novel Black Mamba Boy.

The book, which describes a journey from her Somalian homeland to Port Talbot in Wales, is also shortlisted for this year's Dylan Thomas Prize.
The winners of both literary prizes will be announced on 1 December.

Black Mamba Boy is one of three novels and two non-fiction works in the running for the Guardian's £10,000 prize.
Also in contention are Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman, about a boxer living in the east London of the 1930s, and Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto, a novel by Maile Chapman set in a women's sanatorium in Finland.

The non-fiction works shortlisted are Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz, and Romantic Moderns by Alexandra Harris.

The former is a study of why human beings make everyday errors, while the latter is subtitled English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper.
Clare Armitstead, the Guardian's literary editor, said the shortlist "reflects one of the year's big literary themes - how to tell stories in our new era".

Actress Diana Quick, journalist Ekow Eshun and the novelist and poet Adam Foulds are among those who will join her on the judging panel.
Last year's winner was Petina Gappah for her short story collection, An Elegy for Easterly.

Mohamed is one of six writers up for the £30,000 Dylan Thomas prize, presented each year by 
the University of Wales.

Girls killed by Islamist firing squad in Somalia

Girls killed by Islamist firing squad in Somalia

Victims reported to be 18 or younger were shot in front of hundreds of residents in Beledweyne, near border with Ethiopia
Islamic gunmen patrol in Mogadishu, Somalia
Xan Rice in Nairobi and agencies
Article history

Islamist militants in Somalia. The al-Shabaab rebel movement has shot dead two young girls in the country after accusing them of spying for the government. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

An Islamist militia in Somalia has publicly shot dead two teenage girls by firing squad after accusing them of spying for the government, it emerged today.

The victims – reported to be 18 or younger – were killed in front of hundreds of residents in Beledweyne, near the border with Ethiopia.

The town is controlled by the hardline al-Shabaab rebel movement, which has become notorious for its extreme form of punishment, including stonings and cross-amputations, for various crimes, usually adultery and theft.

The killings, which happened on Wednesday, are believed to the first instance of any females in Somalia being executed for spying. The girls' relatives denied they were guilty of the charge.

According to eyewitnesses accounts, a Shabaab "judge" sentenced the girls to death shortly before they were executed. No evidence was presented, and the two were not allowed legal representation.

Militiamen then used pickup tricks with loudspeakers on the back to summon residents to attend the ceremony at the Islamists' headquarters. They were warned not to take mobile phone pictures.

The girls – named by the Associated Press as Ayan Mohamed Jama, 18, and Huriyo Ibrahim, 15 – were brought to the site blindfolded, with their hands bound. They were made to sit on the ground. About 10 masked men then shot them.

"Two very young girls were shot ... and no one could help," Dahir Casowe, a local elder, said.

After the execution, the local Shabaab commander, Sheikh Yusuf Ali Ugas, told the crowd that Islamist fighters had arrested the girls last week. He claimed hey had confessed to the crime, and said dozens of other people in custody faced a similar fate.

The girls reportedly came from poor families, and had not been attending school due to a lack of funds.

Ayan's father, Mohamed Jama, confirmed that his daughter had been in custody for a week, and said he had been refused permission to visit her.

"Al-Shabaab officials ... told me that she was captured during fighting between the militants and the government soldiers outside the town and that she would be brought before court," he said. "As I waited for good news, she was killed on Wednesday. I am shocked and cannot say more."

The public punishments have a duel purpose for the Shabaab – to restore security in areas under their control by deterring would-be criminals, and to create a climate of fear so locals are too terrified to show dissent or offer support to the government.

Together with another Ismalist militia, Hizbul Islam, Shabaab fighters are trying to overthrow President Sheik Sharif Ahmed's weak administration, which is protected in Mogadishu by 8,000 African Union peacekeepers.

Infighting among ministers and the inability to provide even basic services on the ground has lost the government the sympathy of most Somalis and allowed insurgents to take over much of south and central Somalia since early 2009.

But the Islamists' extreme version of the their religion, which runs counter to Somali tradition, has seen their own support whittled away.

In a statement condemning the executions, Somalia's information ministry said: "This act of killing innocent children does not have Islamic and humanitarian justifications.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SOMALIA: Border town emptied by fighting

SOMALIA: Border town emptied by fighting

NAIROBI, 27 October 2010 (IRIN) - At least 20,000 Somalis displaced by fighting from the border town of Bulo Hawo are facing an uncertain future in camps in the Kenyan town of Mandera, locals told IRIN on 27 October.

 "The entire town [Bulo Hawo] has almost been emptied by the fighting; most have fled to the interior, but at least 3,500 families [21,000 people] have crossed into Kenya," said Ahmed Mohamed Yusuf, an elder.

 He said most of those on the Kenyan side were in a makeshift camp at a place called Border Point One, east of Mandera town.

 The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said most of the Somali refugees were either renting housing in Mandera or staying with relatives.

 "We are particularly concerned about the worsening health and security conditions of thousands of others who have been camping out in the open at Border Point One..." the agency said.

 UNHCR said the fighting in Bulo Hawo between government forces and the Al-Shabab Islamist group had driven at least 60,000 Somalis out of their homes in the past week.

 Yusuf said he was worried about the displaced who had fled to surrounding villages. "These are the most vulnerable," he said. "They have no help there and are unlikely to access aid agencies."

 Yusuf said he was getting reports that most of the displaced were staying in the open, with "absolutely no shelter. I don't know how long they can last."

 Lul Abdullahi, a mother of five from Bulo Hawo, said: "I left because the shelling was too much; we sought refuge on the Kenyan side. Here we have no shelter. We are all camping under trees."

 She said the only help they had received so far was the provision of water by the UN.

 Flooding threat

 A local journalist in Mandera, who requested anonymity, told IRIN those who were in Border Point One, less than 1km from the Somali border, had settled in an area prone to flash floods. With the expected onset of the deyr (short) rains, they face the threat of floods and disease.

 "If the rains come, as is expected, they are in danger of floods and worse," the journalist said.

 Another journalist who is still in Bulo Hawo said at least 80 percent of the town's population had fled. "There are very few people left; 90 percent of businesses are closed. All you see are armed men patrolling the area."

 According to UNHCR, Border Point One is 500m from the Kenya-Somalia border "and within range of fire if clashes resume in [Bulo] Hawo".

 With the Islamist Al-Shabab militia reportedly regrouping to try to retake the town, the agency urged the Kenyan authorities to "speed up relocation of new arrivals so that people can be moved away from the border and into a reception centre where UNHCR and its partners can attend to their protection and assistance needs".

 Somalia has been embroiled in conflict for nearly 20 years since 1990, with more than 1.4 million displaced and 600,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. The UN estimates that more than two million Somalis need humanitarian assistance.


Food as Medicine

Food as Medicine


Eat   plenty of fish -- fish oil helps prevent  headaches. 
So  does ginger, which  reduces inflammation and pain.   


Eat   lots of yogurt before pollen season.  
Also-eat honey from  your area (local  region) daily. 

   DRINK   TEA!   
Prevent   build-up of fatty deposits on artery walls  with regular  doses of tea.  (actually,   tea suppresses appetite and keeps the  pounds from  invading.....Green tea is great  for our immune  system)!  

Use honey as a tranquilizer and  sedative.  

EAT   ONIONS!!!!   

Eating   onions helps ease constriction of  bronchial tubes.  (onion   packs place   on chest   helped   the respiratory ailments and actually made   breathing   better).

   EAT   FISH, TOO!!
Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines  actually  prevent arthritis.  (fish   has omega oils, good for our immune   system)  

    BANANAS   - GINGER!!!!!   

Bananas   will settle an upset stomach. 
Ginger  will cure morning  sickness and nausea.  


High-acid   cranberry juice controls harmful bacteria.   

Bone fractures and osteoporosis can be  prevented by the  manganese in pineapple.  

   EAT   OYSTERS!   

Oysters   help improve your mental functioning by  supplying  much-needed zinc.  

   EAT   GARLIC!   

Clear   up that stuffy head with garlic.  (remember,   garlic lowers cholesterol,  too.)

A substance similar to that found in  the cough syrups is  found in hot red  pepper. Use red (cayenne) pepper  with  caution-it can irritate your tummy.   

    EAT   Wheat, bran and  cabbage
Helps to maintain estrogen at healthy  levels.  


A   good antidote is beta carotene, a form of  Vitamin A found in  dark green and orange  vegetables..  

Cabbage contains chemicals that help  heal both gastric  and duodenal ulcers.  


Grate   an apple with its skin, let it turn brown  and eat it to cure  this condition.  (Bananas   are good for this  ailment)

   EAT   AVOCADO!   

Mono   unsaturated fat in avocados lowers  cholesterol.   

Olive oil has been shown to lower  blood pressure.  
Celery contains a  chemical that lowers pressure too.   


The   chromium in broccoli and peanuts helps  regulate insulin and  blood sugar.  

   Tiny but mighty. This is a good source of  potassium,  magnesium, Vitamin E &  fiber. It's Vitamin C content is  twice  that of an orange.  

   An apple a day keeps the doctor away?  Although an apple has  a low Vitamin C  content, it has antioxidants &   flavonoids which enhances the activity of  Vitamin C thereby  helping to lower the  risks of colon cancer, heart  attack &  stroke.. 

   Protective fruit. Strawberries have the  highest total  antioxidant power among  major fruits & protects the body  from  cancer causing, blood vessels clogging   free radicals. (Actually,   any berry is good for you..they're high in  anti-oxidants and  they actually keep us  young..........blueberries are the best  and  very versatile in the health field........they  get rid  of all the free-radicals that  invade our  bodies)

Orange :
   Sweetest medicine. Taking 2 - 4 oranges a  day may help  keep colds away, lower  cholesterol, prevent  & dissolve kidney  stones as well as lessen the risk  of colon  cancer. 

   Coolest Thirst Quencher. Composed of 92%  water, it is also  packed with a giant dose  of glutathione which helps boost  our  immune system..  They are also a key source  of  lycopene - the cancer fighting oxidant.   Other  nutrients    
Found in watermelon are Vitamin  C  & Potassium. (watermelon   also has natural substances [natural SPF  sources] that keep  our skin healthy,  protecting our skin from those darn UV   rays)

Guava   & Papaya:
   Top awards for Vitamin C. They are the  clear winners for  their high Vitamin C  content. Guava is also rich in fibre  which  helps prevent constipation.  

   is rich in carotene, this is good for your  eyes.  (also   good for gas and  indigestion)  

Tomatoes   are   very good as a preventative measure for  men, keeps those  prostrate problems from  invading their  bodies......GOOD   AS MEDICINE.

Monday, October 25, 2010



African leaders today called on the United Nations to grant the continent a permanent seat on the Security Council, declaring that 65 years after its founding the world body remains mired in the legacy of the past.

"To maintain at all costs the status quo is to turn one's back on the radical changes in the state of the world and at the same time to expose the Council to more mistrust, more defiance and more criticism," Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade told the General Assembly on the second day of its annual debate, seeking the right of veto for the continent.

He noted that from 51 Member States in 1945 the UN had now grown to 192, yet the Council, "the body intended to reflect the collective will" whose resolutions are legally binding while those of the Assembly are not, had increased its membership only once, in 1965, from 11 to 15.

"Are we prepared to define a new world order within which Africa and the emerging powers will fully play the role which the changing circumstances confer on them?" he asked.

"How indeed can one conceive of a credible role for our organization in world governance while Africa, comprising more than a quarter of its troops and occupying 70 per cent of the Council's agenda, has no permanent seat on it?

"It is to end this anomaly and right a historical injustice that Senegal has proposed, independent of current reforms that will take time, that our continent be granted a permanent seat with the right of veto."

At present only the five permanent members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – have veto rights. All five were victorious allies in the Second World War, part of what Mr. Wade called the legacy of a closed historical period.

"If numerous Council decisions are today questioned and their execution deficient, it is because they are perceived by the great majority of Member States more as the expression of national interests than the transmission of a mandate in the name of the community of nations," he said.

President Ali Bongo of Gabon also called on the UN to adapt to the changed international context. "At a time when the democratization of world governance is a necessity, I wish to reaffirm from this tribune the aspirations of Africa to full occupy its place in the concert of nations," he said.

"It seems to me the time has come for Africa not only to have a permanent seat on the Security Council but also to assume the full breadth of its responsibilities as a fully recognized actor on the international scene."

Measuring Corruption in Iraq: Between Perceptions and Reality

Measuring Corruption in Iraq: Between Perceptions and Reality
Ali Al-Mawlawi, 25 October 2010

The findings of the Corruption Perceptions Index are widely anticipated by governments whose credibility is at stake. But are they always reliable?
About the author
Ali Al-Mawlawi is an Iraqi research fellow at a Baghdad-based independent think tank, the Iraqi Institute for Economic Reform.

The World Bank has described corruption as 'the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development." The prospects of attracting foreign investment depends on cultivating perceptions of a healthy business environment, and information on levels of corruption influences the willingness of donors to assist developing countries. On 26 October, Transparency International (TI) will unveil the results of the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). First published in 1995, the CPI has gained prominence as one of the leading indicators of cross-country corruption.

Iraq has consistently scored extremely poorly in the CPI. In 2009, it was ranked fourth from bottom out of 180 countries, ahead of only Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia. However, earlier this month, in a report co-authored by TI that assessedtransparency in the oil, gas and minerals industries, Iraq was ranked number 13 out of 41 resource-rich countries and well ahead of its Middle Eastern neighbours. Understanding the reasons for this disparity requires a closer inspection of the CPI's methodology and its implications for measuring perceptions of corruption in Iraq.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is an aggregate indicator that ranks countries based on the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. TI defines corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain". The CPI relies on thirteen surveys from ten independent organisations, which rank countries according to overall extent of corruption (frequency and/or size of corrupt transactions). Six of the surveys are based on the opinions of local businesspeople and the remaining seven sources are assessments from both resident and non-resident country experts.

However, there is limited overlap between the surveys in the countries they cover. For a country to be included in the CPI, a minimum of three sources must be available. Variations in the number of sources used for each country inevitably arise. Whereas India's CPI score, for example, was based on ten sources, only three were available for Haiti. The CPI for 2009 ranked 180 countries and territories and the final score for each country was calculated as the average of the transformed scores from each source.

General weaknesses of the CPI

A number of inherent weaknesses in the CPI have been highlighted and doubts about Transparency International's methodology have been raised. TI acknowledges the difficulties in measuring actual corruption, but claims that the CPI is a reliable method as it draws on the "experience and perceptions of those who see first hand the realities of corruption in a country".

The fact that there is no universally agreed definition of corruption poses a problem. Whether unofficial fees paid to public officials to induce bureaucratic services, known as facilitation payments, fall under corruption depends on the judicial standards of each country. Similarly, procurement rules vary from country to country. While businesspeople in one country may perceive closed tenders a form of corruption, it may be seen as entirely appropriate in countries where such procedures are commonplace.

 In Iraq, a number of cases involving the mismanagement of funds by private security companies and international organisations have been reported. But TI's definition of corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain", limits the scope of corrupt activities to public officials and politicians. Corruption in the private sector and within foreign aid agencies is overlooked.

Lastly, given that corruption is defined as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain", is TI's definition applicable to many authoritarian regimes where the power of ruling elites has been obtained by force and intimidation? The abuse of entrustedpower does not therefore exist. But it would be difficult to accept that dictatorial regimes are not corrupt. Rather, it would be plausible to suggest that all the activities of ruling elites are corrupt, since their primary motivation is to hold on to power for private gain.

However, some corrupt activities may not exist in authoritarian countries due to the nature of their political systems. For example, in democratic countries, lobbyists and special interest groups are often accused of influencing political parties through illicit means in order to push for legislation to be passed that would favour their interests. However, in countries where a pluralistic party system does not exist, the prevalence of such activities is likely to be significantly less. Again, it would be unreasonable to suggest that these countries are less corrupt because of the lack of such practices.

Similarly, countries that are relatively more isolated from the international community and engage less frequently in international trade and foreign investment will exhibit less incidences of bribery associated with tender deals.

Iraq-specific weaknesses of the CPI

A closer look at the sources used to calculate Iraq's CPI score raises serious questions about the accuracy of the overall assessment.

There are only three sources that contribute to Iraq's CPI score: the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI), the Economist Intelligence Unit's Country Risk Service and Country Forecast (EIU); and Global Insight's Country Risk Ratings (GI). All three are based solely on assessments made by country experts. The views of local businesspeople are not included. Moreover, a detailed examination of these sources in relation to Iraq reveals that no resident country experts contributed to the 2009 assessments.

Only two questions from the BTI are relevant to corruption and are incorporated into the CPI score. They ask: To what extent are there legal or political penalties for stakeholders who abuse their positions?; and secondly, to what extent can the government successfully contain corruption?

The responses to both questions are scored out of 10 by non-resident experts. A score of '3', for example, in question one corresponds to the response: "Corrupt officeholders are not prosecuted adequately under the law but occasionally attract adverse publicity". An in-depth knowledge of the judicial procedures in Iraq would be required to make an accurate assessment. Given that the respondents are not even based in Iraq, their scores should be considered highly subjective.

The second source for the CPI calculation is the Economist Intelligence Unit's Country Risk Service and Country Forecast 2009. The report consists of a series of 60 variables that assess sovereign, political and economic risk. But only one variable is relevant to measuring corruption. Here, country experts based in London, New York and Hong Kong assess the incidence of corruption by considering aspects such as the independence of the judiciary and the misappropriation of public funds by officials for private gain. The responses are rated from 0 to 4, with '0' denoting a "very high" incidence and '4' denoting a "very low" incidence of corruption. The scores are usually reviewed by an in-country expert, but in the case of Iraq, no such individual was available in 2009.

Finally, Global Insight's Country Risk Rating 2009 assesses the likelihood of encountering corrupt officials. Countries are scored between '1', denoting that the country has an excellent business environment where corruption is virtually unknown, to '5', denoting severe operational difficulties which makes business impossible and where corruption is so pervasive that it reaches the highest levels of government and includes kickbacks and bribes in return for awarding contracts.

In summary, none of the three sources that make up Iraq's CPI score draw on the "experience and perceptions of those who see first hand the realities of corruption" in Iraq given that neither local businesspeople or resident experts contribute to the assessments. This poses a serious problem given that the perceptions of non-resident experts are often shaped by the same third party sources. It is also astonishing that the CPI should rely on surveys and reports that are particularly brief and general in their assessment of corruption.

Misinterpreting the CPI

Critics argue that incorrect interpretation of the CPI by the media is the rule rather than the exception. The Index ranks countries according to their aggregated score, but Transparency International maintains that the CPI should not be used to compare levels of corruption between countries. This has not stopped credible journalists and country experts from not only making incorrect claims, but attributing them to Transparency International. Following the release of CPI 2009, the BBCremarked, "War-torn nations remain the world's most corrupt, Transparency International (TI) has said."

Even the renowned commentator on Iraq, Patrick Cockburn, declared, "Iraq is the world's premier kleptomaniac state. According to Transparency International the only countries deemed more crooked than Iraq are Somalia and Myanmar, while Haiti and Afghanistan rank just behind."

Transparency International also maintains that the index is not suitable for monitoring a country's progress over time. Yet comparisons such as "Iraq saw some improvement, rising to 176 of 180 countries, up two places up from last year" are commonplace. This is a critical point, since changes in perceptions of corruption over time do not necessarily infer changes in actual corruption.

Due to the reasons outlined above, the CPI is an unreliable indicator of actual levels of corruption in Iraq. Moreover, there is a danger that rather than contributing to efforts to combat corruption, it may exacerbate perceptions of endemic corruption, which runs the risk of creating a 'corruption trap' that poses a serious obstacle to sustainable development in Iraq.

Assessing anti-corruption mechanisms

Rather than focusing solely on attempts to improve the accuracy of measuring corruption, efforts should shift to outlining strengths and weaknesses of institutional frameworks by assessing the effectiveness of anti-corruption mechanisms within the legislative, judicial and executive bodies. This approach would be in line with the World Bank's Good Governance strategy for tackling corruption, which aims at "reducing the opportunities for corruption while increasing the risk of being caught and severely punished".

There is growing recognition that corruption indicators need to be more relevant to country stakeholders. Composite indices are generally poor at providing actionable strategies for domestic anti-corruption agencies. Encouraging national ownership of corruption surveys by engaging local stakeholders from civil society, government and the private sector is the key to providing a relevant, legitimate and accurate understanding of corruption in Iraq, and to developing possible solutions. Partnerships with international organisations will confer credibility on their work, in addition to providing technical expertise. 

Transparency International has yet to establish an office in Iraq, citing security reasons and the lack of adequate partners as the main obstacles. If it is serious about understanding the nature of corruption in Iraq, it not only needs to reach out to indigenous Iraqi groups that experience the realities of Iraq first hand, but it must also overcome its perception that Iraq is too dangerous a place to work in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Siilaanyo's poor leadership by Jama Falaag

Siilaanyo's poor leadership by Jama Falaag

Here is a pattern. When there is righteousness in the heart, therr is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is an order in the nation. Where there is order in the nation, there is peas in the country Remember this. 

When Siilaanyo was the presidential candidate, a thousand voices predicted at certain key moments that he would never be good president. Some people said that Siilaanyo is not a man of his word. Some said that he is not a man of vision. Others said that he does not have the effect to lead a nation.

Such views are substantiated by the thoughts that can elicit questions like: Does Siilaanyo have a better light over his predecessor? Has he invoked a national vision, ideas that contribute to the unified sense of mission and thereby to the harmony of the whole? Is there an agenda behind the creation of characters like: Hersi, the chief of the cabinets, who only brought daggers, knives and swords to the presidential palace, as if it is a cannibalization room?

All cases considered, Siilaanyo is  running an administration that, since the day he was inaugurated till today, has seemed directionless, uninspired and addicted to the empty calories of generalities. He himself seems flat. No fire. No prudence. No passion for profound leadership. 
Weakness is the first thing that bubbled from Siilaanyo's Administration. There is no spirit of close contact and cooperation between his government apparatuses. The whole administration, from head to tail, looks like a tired one, which has wandered and struggled and got lost, and which could not strike into its road and see its end. There is an in-fight even going on between them. 
This mess has an impact on the country. Many of the cherished values that we spent decades promoting are dying fast. There are signs of dissent and dissidence at the corners of the country. A culture of disloyalty and hatred, hard to reverse or restrain, is growing fast. Respect for Somaliland secession and reverence for national interests seem to be disappearing.  

Siilaanyo chose the moment. He kicked out the confidence that is essential to any government, because he has no clues about how to craft a different and alternative future. The reason is that Siilaanyo's own appeal is built not on hard issues like economic promise or political stability but on emotive matters that seem to appease his own sentiment.

Leadership is like water and water is like leadership. When it becomes static, it turns stagnant and infested. Its normal course is movement; there is always an ebb or a flow. You either use the tide or get washed away by it. Whoever controls the moment rides the forward surge. Siilaanyo has never been a good captain of a boat set on a course precisely on the middle path. 

There was and still is a philosophy of his own, that Siilaanyo can not and could not be able to overcome. Siilaanyo's main view of politics is that politics has no permanent morality. For him; politics can be idealism, or it could be compromise, or even a concept to undermine one another.

For this, Siilaanyo is tempting the extremes of responsibility. And responsibility is a commitment, an element of accountability, a fact and a function. There is mystery in the way responsibility is carried out, majesty in its breadth and power in its depth. The wise are careful about how they deal with responsibility, for in respecting responsibility there is a long history of bravado and praise. 

Illusions and ill-judgment in administration building are not a function of the courts of law or the criminal investigation department. It is decided in the marketplace of politics. The poor judgment of Siilaanyo peaked this time, but the public will not close the book. Would they?

By: Jama Falaag
      Jeddah, Saudi arabia

As usual the views expressed in the opinion articles are entirely and solely those of the authour.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A plea for Somali Intelligentsia to Salvage their dying Nation

A plea for Somali Intelligentsia to Salvage their dying Nation 
By Abdiaziz M. Abdi 

Dear Somali Intelligentsia,

Somalis are perishing.  This minute you are reading these lines now, a vast number of them are perishing by bullets and bombs which are down-pouring on their heads, by pestilences and paucity which have become of their homelands. Sprawled, their bodies are mounding every pitch and every terrain, making great feast for the roaming wolfs and dogs.

Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia once described  by Ibnu Batuta ( 1304-1369) as glittering  gem at the Indian Ocean;  a city famous in manufacturing woven fabrics unrivalled by  Baghdad and  Beirut, has been reduced to a pile of grinned chunks.  Today it looks like Troy in the Homeric epic, sacked by incalculable never-ending Achilles descending from afar filthy planet!

Those few which fate helped to escape from the carnage are gobbled by oceans, gulped by wilderness, and hounded by frontier guards---amidst their flight from the fright. The fortunate ones who have made to the western safe-havens are not --alas healthy and sound! They are derided in every corner; they survive on meager provisions granted by pitied welfare provinces. Some have menial jobs in ghastly working conditions with a minimum wages and nil benefits, where work is hard, bosses are harsh, breaks are short, and days are long. Some already have lost hope, and fallen on antidepressant and tranquilizers for solace! 

It is not fair only to grumble and whine; there are---thanks heavens---- (although they are few in number) some unflinching Somalis in the arena who are tenacious to triumph. Would these not many valiant champions be capable of coming out of the battle triumphant and rescue the sinking nation? Or would tumble in the middle before the mission is accomplished? That is still unknown. What is known, however, is that Somalis indeed need knights in shining armors?
Dear Somali Intelligentsia, 

The term, Somalia has become synonym for anarchy, chaos, and pandemonium.  Somalia is dubbed as the most dangerous place in the world, the most corrupted place in world, the long failed state in modern history. In the Foreign Policy magazines annual Failed States Index published this year, Somalia and for the third year ranks No. 1.  In short, Somalia is a country which is at the backwaters of human civilization.  Every informed observer familiar with Somalia's affairs would consent the fact that Somalia is country committing national suicide; the bleak pictures which float up from that country attest the grim reality that the country is barren from true leaders; it attest that the country is in the hands of an elite concerned to a sheer pillage and plunder rather than to save, serve, and sooth.

In Somalia, more than 20 years of limbo have elapsed   with so many people killed, with so many maimed, with so many infants orphaned, with so many wives widowed, with so many powerless beings casted out, with so many gun bearing teens rising up, with so many dope-faith crazed fanatics rampaging around, and with so many iatrogenic ideologies in succession; and alas, the question how we did get into this loop in the first place and how to sail through is not seriously raised yet! 

Dear Somali Intelligentsia 

Somalia is a nation going to Gehenna in hand basket. Maybe you are asking yourselves at this point these questions: "should we care? And if we care, is there anything useful that we can actually do to stop the looming doom?" The first question is the easiest one of the two questions raised to answer.  Given that you are Somalis--- Somali gene runs in your blood--- who hailed from that country, have families and extended families suffering due to the prevailing tragedy, you have no choice.  There are moral and humanitarian reasons that compel you to care too:  there are more than 3 million people who relate to you by blood and flesh in Somalia, who did not get the blessing   that God bestowed upon you (I mean the blessing of schooling), more than half of them illiterate, some of them living in slavery-like conditions, and most of them poor. You are in a position---because you are minority privileged by wisdom, knowledge, and acumen----   to edify and enlighten them, expose and ward-off the manipulation of the internal and external manipulators from them, to guide them to the path which leads to peace, brotherhood, and prosperity. Unless you are opting to align yourselves with those heathens mentioned in the Quran who accrued the woes and curses of God because they drove away the orphans and did not encourage the feeding of the poor, (surah al-Ma'un 107), you need to take heed.

To answer the question pertaining to "is there anything useful that we can actually do?" I am inclined to say a thousand times yes.  "Never doubt that small group of thoughtful people committed citizens [individuals] can change the world" as Anthropologist Margret Mead had said once. In that sense, Somalis indeed are in dire need for thoughtful committed reformers in shining armors. Alas, according to history and to our Quran, reformers in shining armors   are not celestial beings who would come down from the sky to salvage agonized mortals. "Indeed Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves" (surah ar-Ra'd 13).  In other word, in order a change to materialize a given people should birth their reformers who would initiate a profound reformation. 

The great Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote" I only believe in my leading idea that men are in general divided by a law of nature into two categories, ordinary [ and extraordinary; the former group persevere the world and people it, the latter move the world and lead it to its heights".  Intellectuals belong to the latter group; thus you need to stand up embracing your roles--- that is fending off Somalis from this open inferno they are falling in hordes. 

Dear Somali Intelligentsia,

My eyes are bulging because the harrowing calamity paraded in front of me, my heart is bleeding because I feel abandoned by my able brethren, my stomach is growling because I am starving, my children are dying because they are malnourished,   my old parents are moldering because they are ailing, my brothers are falling like Fall's leaves jingled by heavy winds, and my sisters are raped and slashed on my home's aisle.  My whole kin are driven to the Gallows in manacles. While every bird capable of flying flew high in the sky, I am standing here in shackles waiting my turn to be lynched!  Dear Somali Intelligentsia, May God bless your souls, are you forthcoming to set me free and spare my life?

Today my whole kin are the stage of churning, and yet the broadest wondrous things are opening up for our century. We are at the stage stark naked butchering each other by old daggers and outdated klaniskoves, while the world is progressing in the speed of transonic jets. The same day, the media prints and portrays the dreadful stories of our tribal-based squabbles, the world announces a discovery of new planet, a panacea to prolong life, and scheme to eradicate poverty.  If only you can come to an internal agreement and vow one for all, all for one, floods of riches, brotherhood, and harmony   will cover the country. Your unison will make our predicament out of date, and our hatreds null and void!   
 Dear Somali Intelligentsia,

It is true that the immense tragedies that we Somalis are living in now often create in gifted men with approaching horror. Paralyzed, they cannot make up their minds to do anything but to run and save only their lives. So they run, and one day while in the run, the Gorgon catches them and feasts on them after the banquet made of the feeble creatures left behind comes to an end! 

I would like here to convince you that the run amok Gorgon can be slaughtered; the spell can be broken, and the runaway Jinn can be put in the bottle:  strength of heart, intelligence, and courage are namely enough to kill the rampaging beast, to cage the feral demon, and to restore the vanquished angel.  You merely need to will this, not blindly, but with a firm and reasoned will.  

You are all familiar with stories of great and unflinching intellectuals who rescued their people from immense dangers. You are familiar with brand names like Moses, Joshua, Mohamed, Martin Luther King, the senior and the junior, and Mahatma Gandhi who heralded their people to the heights of prosperity and opulence.  
I beseech you to adjoin your physical and mental talents, proceed with joint minds and hearts to salvage your dying nation; and by the willpower and the assistance of God Almighty, you prevail--- God-willing.

Dear Somali Intelligentsia, 

You may say what our guiding principles are? I would say; it is to denounce all sorts of tribalism: Clan tribalism, ethnicity tribalism, culture tribalism, ideology tribalism, and theology tribalism. Your guiding principle is to promote human cohesion, righteous morals, tolerance, and love of wisdom.  Your guiding principle is to vie for a system based around equality, liberty, transparency, accountability,   and the pursuit of happiness, and denounce   the systems based around unfair legal system, corruption in the delivery of public goods, and superstition. Those are your guiding principles. 

You may ask what we aspire for. I answer in one word: success; success at all costs, success in spite of all the hurdles, success, however long and hard the voyage may be; for without success, any venture is doomed to fail. You may ask what ingredients we need in order to attain success. And I would say in one word: unity; because God's divine providence is brought forth by the unification of minds, souls. It is a time to put a giant mirror in front of you …It is time to sound off the alarm to awaken your sleeping scruples, so that you become catalysts of positive change to rewrite  Somali history.  And I cannot conclude without mentioning the name of one through whom this vision of building a new model of Somalia based on unity, brotherhood and love has already articulated with beauty and power---- Abukar Arman. 

Abdiaziz Abdi is a spokesperson for a Somali Situation Herald--- an NGO committed to serving Somali community through networking, creating awareness, narrowing the current gap which polarizes Somali community world over --- based in Rochester, MN, USA. He can be reached at:

Somaliland: No to Berbera Port Revenues Under Silanyo

Somaliland: No to Berbera Port Revenues Under Silanyo

The decision by the incumbent president of Somaliland to place the management of Berbera  port and the its revenues directly under the presidency is illegal and a day light robbery.  It is not the responsibility of Silanyo to run the major income earner-port for the country.  Silanyo has not been elected as a port director but (doubted) as a country leader.

The president's decision to place the management of the main Somaliland port under the presidential office is a sign of lack of confidence in both the Finance minister and the minister of ports ; or possibly an own intention by the president of committing corruption – a  short gain to compensate for the loss of effort and money for the desperate years that he has been yelling and running around to sit on the Hargeisa throne.

Actions like this put Somaliland back to square one where it started all in 1991 or possibly in 1982 . The port revenues management has been under the previous Somaliland presidents but this has not been in Kulmiye's  agenda during the campaign where the party lead by Silanyo promised change, fight against corruption and claimed to improve transparency and accountability.

The people of Somaliland must reject this decision by the president to handle the income of Berbera port and must demand that the  ministry of finance handle the revenues in the country as a whole.
With the weak opposition and the falling apart of UDUB party, Kulmiye seems to be riding on smooth waters currently that may turn rough in the near future. Intellectually dwarfs and religious oriented figures cannot be allowed to blackmail the people of Somaliland. No absolute power can be imposed on the public.  After all Somaliland is a tribal coalition and each tribe is still equipped to the teeth. Any commotion by these pygmy politicians can trigger a civil war.

Mark my words and we should not lie to the West that has much interest in the country. Unless justice is served, Hargeisa alone cannot rule Somaliland and the country could split up.

 M. Ali - Editor
Source:  Medeshivalley

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Somaliland looks good next to its restive neighbor

Somaliland: Somalia's success story
By Tristan McConnell - GlobalPost

Somaliland looks good next to its restive neighbor and foreign investors are taking notice.

HARGEISA, Somalia — There is a part of Somalia where foreigners can walk the streets in safety, where the only guns are held by uniformed members of the state security services, where elections are held regularly and democratically, and where the people can dare to hope for a future of continuing peace and desperately-needed prosperity.

Somaliland, northwest of Somalia, declared independence in 1991 but has not been recognised by any other country in the world. Yet in the restive Horn of Africa, it is a rare success story that is gradually being accepted by the United States and others.

In September, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa announced a new "two track policy" toward Somalia, one that increases the focus on Somaliland and another semi-autonomous northern region called Puntland.

"Both of these parts of Somalia have been zones of relative political and civil stability and we think they in fact will be a bulwark of extremism and radicalism that might emerge from the south," said Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for Africa, in New York last month.

Carson stressed that the new diplomatic push did not amount to legal recognition and that Washington would continue to support the U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.

For the capital of a country that does not exist, Hargeisa is a cacophonous place. Car engines and horns compete to drown out the call of the muezzin, ambling pedestrians compete with battered vehicles on the dusty streets that are lined with thickets of cactus and drifts of thorny acacia branches.

Little wooden stalls sell imported Chinese and Saudi plastic goods. Moneychangers squat behind dirty ramparts of Somaliland shillings. Bales of narcotic khat trucked or flown in from the Ethiopian highlands are sold at little booths, their male customers stumble away in a stoned daze clutching bunches of green stems.

Telephone poles are wreathed in tangled wires, like a citywide game of cat's cradle gone wrong. The anarchic wiring is testament to the recent unregulated growth in telephone services.

Clad in skeletons of wooden scaffolding, half-constructed buildings lean woozily as construction workers scurry up and down ladders. These are new hotels, office blocks, banks, apartments and mosques.

Hargeisa is a boomtown albeit in a chaotic, Wild West kind of way. The lack of formal economic development is a result of Somaliland's lack of formal existence. Without international recognition Somaliland cannot benefit from World Bank or International Monetary Fund support and has received only piecemeal bilateral support from a handful of donors.

But that is set to change. During a visit to Hargeisa last week the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, said the $100 million that Somaliland now receives from donors each year could double as a result of the increased engagement from foreign countries.

That would be a significant boost for a place where the government's entire budget is only $50 million a year, mostly earned by the busy port at Berbera. Every day creaky wooden galleons from Yemen and elsewhere in the Arabian peninsula unload pallets of fizzy drinks and crates of washing machines, sacks of grain and cargo loads of 4x4s … things that Somaliland cannot produce itself, which means pretty much everything.

Once empty, the ships fill up with livestock and head back across the Gulf of Aden. The sheep and goats exported to Arab countries are Somaliland's biggest foreign earner.

In the absence of legal recognition, Somaliland has developed a strange mix of pride and bitterness that was expressed by the Harvard-educated chancellor of the University of Hargeisa.

"We have seen the bottom of hell but we have built from the ground up with little support," 

Hussein Bulhan said.

The campus houses eight faculties and educates 3,500 students. But just 12 years ago it was a refugee camp in the wake of a civil war that all but destroyed Somaliland before its declaration of independence.

"My expectation was that the American government would help but I haven't seen much," Bulhan said. "Instead, America has supported a recognised government [in Mogadishu] that exists only in the minds of a few.

"After 9/11 the focus has been fighting terrorists and too many resources have gone into putting out fires instead of building peace."

But the recent U.S. announcement has left Somaliland officials with an excitement they barely suppress.

"We welcome direct engagement and we are expecting wide-scale investment in our security, economic growth, health and infrastructure," Foreign Minister Mohamed Omar said.

The aim is to shift the focus of foreign aid from humanitarian assistance to economic development to help get the poor and battered country on track, he said.

The new Somaliland government was installed after a much-delayed but ultimately peaceful and democratic election this June. President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo said he was "very happy" with the promised engagement from Washington.

"This country is peaceful and democratic, where the president, parliament and local councils were elected in free and fair elections, where rule of law reigns and where the streets are full of uniformed children with book in hand going to school, not hooded, with guns, going to war," Silanyo told a gathering of foreign officials in Hargeisa.




 CARE Somalia/South Sudan is an International NGO working in Somalia and South Sudan. CARE and its partners work with vulnerable communities to address the underlying causes of poverty and promote peace and development, through its strategic goal to reduce poverty by empowering women, enhancing resources and services, and improving governance.

CARE is looking for a suitable candidate to fill the position of Operations Manager based in Somalia to develop, coordinate and administer proper policies, practices and procedures in the area of procurement, general administration and human resources in the Somalia program. Most importantly this position will be accountable for ensuring full compliance with donor regulations and all CARE policies and procedures in all areas of program support.

Job Summary

The Operations Manager (OM) will be responsible for staff management and development and will be expected to directly supervise the work of direct reports, provide support through coaching, mentoring and training opportunities to enable direct supervisees meet challenging performance objectives and monitor performance of direct reports and coordinate the annual and mid-year performance activities.  

The OM will be accountable for the procurement function and be required to ensure a proper understanding and adherence to donor and CARE rules and regulations in all Somalia program sub offices, review and advice on procurement procedures in all sub-offices, oversee the activities of the sub office vendor committees as well as ensure that all procurement documents are completed timely and have complete and accurate support documentation

The incumbent also be in charge of the overall general administration and logistics and to ensure that all services, leases, and general administrative contracts protect CARE's interest, and that CARE assets are safeguarded, ensure that Country Office (CO) and donor policies and procedures as regards fleet management, travel and accommodation are applied appropriately as well as oversee the coordination of all other administrative functions.

S/he will be in charge of property and logistics management and will be required to supervise all activities relating to the asset inventory records, ensure that physical counts are conducted as per policies, make sure that all property documentation is timely updated and maintained as well as ensure disposal approval for obsolete property.

The Operations Manager will also oversee the Human Resource function at the sub office level and to this end will be required to ensure the recruitment of personnel is timely, disseminate HR policies and where necessary country labor laws to ensure same level of information and understanding in all CARE sub offices of the Somalia program, ensure appropriate application in the CARE Somalia HR processes as well as ensure that staff personnel files are complete and regularly updated. She/he will provide support to the program team in the application of the Somalia program Gender, Equity and Diversity strategy.


Key Competencies

·          Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;

·          Planning and organizing abilities;

·          Strong leadership and teamwork abilities;

·          Good analytical skills;

·          Stress tolerance, adaptable with ability to pro-actively solve problems;

·          Ability to maintain customer focus while handling multiple priorities;

·          Integrity, commitment to service and respect for diversity;

Required skills and qualifications

·          A Bachelors Degree in a Business related field;

·          Certified Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) or equivalent ;

·          Minimum of four years relevant working experience in a similar position and international organization;

·          Clear understanding of the various donor rules and regulations;

·          Excellent grasp of NGO/Donor policies and procedures relevant to admin/ Procurement;

·          Be able to understand internal and external statutory laws that affect procurement, administration and logistics

This position is based in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Closing date for applications is: 29th October 2010.

Applications/CV with daytime telephone contacts and three referees clearly marked "Operations Manager- REF: SOM/EX0106" should be sent to:

 The Senior Human Resources Officer
CARE Somalia/South Sudan

P.O. Box 2039, 00202 Nairobi

 CARE is an Equal Opportunity Employer, promoting gender, equity and diversity and women candidates are strongly encouraged to apply!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

AFRICA: Study highlights need for better post-rape care in conflict

AFRICA: Study highlights need for better post-rape care in conflict

NAIROBI, 19 October 2010 (PLUSNEWS) - Recent research into the effect of mass rape on HIV in conflict situations has highlighted the need for better post-rape care services for affected women and girls.

 Published in AIDS, the official journal of the International AIDS Society, the study, entitled Assessing the Impact of Mass Rape on the Incidence of HIV in Conflict-affected Countries, found that mass rape could cause about five new HIV infections per 100,000 females per year in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, Somalia and Sierra Leone, double that number in Burundi and Rwanda, and 20 new infections per 100,000 women per year in Uganda.

 According to Sally Blower, one of the authors of the new study, women and girls infected through mass rape could act as bridges for HIV into the general population by infecting their sexual partners or their children through mother-to-child transmission.

 The study found that under extreme conditions, mass rape could lead to as many as 10,000 women and girls becoming infected with HIV every year in the DRC, with that figure rising to up to 20,000 in Uganda.

 Measuring HIV incidence in conflict situations with little data available is notoriously difficult. The authors used mathematical modelling to estimate the number of new infections based on four factors - the number of uninfected women and girls aged 15-49; the proportion of the population raped during conflict; the prevalence of HIV among assailants and the probability of HIV transmission per act of rape.

 A separate, 2007 study by among others, Paul Spiegel, the UN Refugee Agency's chief of public health and HIV, found insufficient data to support the conventional wisdom that conflict, forced displacement, and wide-scale rape increased HIV prevalence in the general population, or that refugees spread HIV infection in host communities.

 "We used the same data and mathematical modelling as the Spiegel study, but found that while HIV prevalence in the general population was unlikely to be affected by mass rape, incidence - the number of new infections - could be significantly affected by mass rape," Blower told IRIN/PlusNews.

 They concluded that interventions and treatment such as post-exposure prophylaxis - a regimen of antiretrovirals administered to rape survivors to prevent HIV infection - and counselling targeted to rape survivors during armed conflicts could reduce HIV incidence.

 "During conflicts, many women can be forced to migrate and seek shelter in camps, often separating them from social and safety networks and exposing them to sexual violence," the authors noted. "Focusing targeted interventions in refugee camps may be an effective means for reaching rape survivors."

 She suggested that the findings of Spiegel's study may have been misleading for programmes aimed at preventing HIV in some conflict-affected countries.

 "When we did our research, our purpose was to prove wrong a widely held belief that women raped in conflict were also highly likely to be HIV-positive," Spiegel told IRIN/PlusNews. "One often quoted false statistic is that a very high percentage of women raped during the Rwandan genocide were HIV-positive, which stigmatized this group of women."

 "The availability of post-rape care is a basic human rights and public health issue - women and girls raped in conflict need to be provided with proper post-exposure prophylaxis, sexually transmitted infection diagnosis and care and counselling," he added. "We hope the new research will increase efforts to provide appropriate services to affected women."

 Obstacles to post-rape care

 The research comes in the wake of reports of the mass rape of more than 300 women in North Kivu, eastern DRC. The DRC's conflict-affected east has a history of sexual violence but several obstacles have prevented effective handling of post-rape care.

 Many rapes take place in remote settings where women have little or no access to proper post-rape care or are unaware what action should be taken in the event of rape. According to a 2009 study of sexual violence in South Kivu by the NGO Malteser International, many women never come forward due to fear of stigmatization by their families and communities and of repercussions by perpetrators.

 Protracted insecurity and kidnappings can also hinder women's access to emergency post-rape care services, the Malteser study found. To be effective, post-exposure prophylaxis must be administered as soon as possible - and no later than 72 hours - after a rape has occurred.

 "Services are not always evenly available, and stigma is still a huge concern - many women go very far away from their home areas to seek services where they won't be recognized," said Banu Atunbas, the head of mission for the international medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the DRC. "If women do come forward, the health system is not always able to deal with all their concerns - PMTCT [prevention of mother-to-child transmission], for example, is not widely available as part of post-rape care services."

 MSF, which runs clinics in both North and South Kivu, has this year alone reported thousands of displaced citizens trapped by conflict and unable to access health care, and has had one of its hospitals raided by Congolese soldiers who removed some wounded patients.

 According to Altunbas, one of the biggest problems with rape in the region is impunity; few perpetrators are ever brought to justice.

 "As long as we keep treating women and never bringing the perpetrators to justice, it's like we are treating people for cholera without removing the contaminated water that is the source of the infection," she said. "We will just have to keep treating them, but it is not a final solution."


Monday, October 18, 2010

SOMALIA: Insurgents' defeat leaves town between hope and fear

SOMALIA: Insurgents' defeat leaves town between hope and fear

NAIROBI, 18 October 2010 (IRIN) - The ousting on 17 October of insurgents by pro-government forces in Bulo Hawo, a town in Somalia's southwestern Gedo region elicited mixed emotions among war-weary residents, thousands of whom have taken flight.

 "There is hope that the government takeover will lead to peace and stability but there is fear that this is not the end and more fighting will follow," said Shukri Gedi, a resident of the town, which lies close to the Kenyan border.

 Bulo Hawo, along with most of the Gedo region, had been under the control of the Islamist Al-Shabab insurgency for a year. The insurgents were chased out of the town by forces led by Barre Aden Hiirale, a member of the transitional parliament.

 Gedi said many of her neighbours had fled the area and were trying to cross into Kenya "because they are afraid that fighting will start inside the town".

 A journalist in the town said Kenyan authorities prevented many of the displaced from crossing the border on 18 October, having allowed some through the previous day.

 "The Kenyans have brought a lot military personnel on their side and are not allowing people in," he said.

 The UN Refugee Agency said it had received no reports of asylum-seekers being turned back at the border.

 Although the border is officially closed, almost 35,000 Somalis entered Kenya as refugees in 2010.

 Ahmed Mohamed Burkuus, an elder in the town, told IRIN he believed some 900 families, or 5,400 people had fled because of the fighting, and that many of them had previously been displaced from the capital, Mogadishu.


 Burkuus said the fighting on 17 October took place just outside Bulo Hawo itself. But he added: "There is fear this morning [18 October] that fighting may break out inside the town and that is what is driving the current movement of people."

 He said that the local population was ill-prepared for more displacement.

 "This is an area that is suffering from water shortages and dispersing people will make it even more difficult to help them."

 The local journalist, who requested anonymity, told IRIN Al-Shabab forces were about 15km from the town and were reportedly awaiting reinforcements.

 "The two sides are not far from each other and fighting can resume any time," the journalist said, adding that the new, pro-government group had placed the town under curfew from 6pm to 7am.

 Others in the town were more optimistic.

 "If this fighting for control of Bulo Hawo ends now, then we do have a chance of peace and stability and our town can recover and resume normal commercial activity," said one resident.

 He said Bulo Hawo was a thriving trade route between Somalia and Kenya "but in the last few years because of constant fighting we are losing our place."

 In a statement on 17 October, Somalia's Information Ministry said: "Somali government forces have on Sunday morning [17 October] recaptured Bulo Hawo District, in southwestern Gedo region of Somalia, bordering Kenya. Somali government forces have been preparing in Gedo, Bakol and Hiraan regions to bring peace and stability to these regions as part of government plans to bring rule of law to all over Somalia."

 In the statement, Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman said: "Today's victory is a gain for Somalis, the Somali flag and freedom. Government forces will continue their struggle until they liberate the entire [country] from the brutal rule of Al-Shabab."

 As well as parts of Mogadishu and now Bulo Hawo in Gedo region, Somalia's Transitional Federal Government and its allies control most of Galgadud region in the centre of the country, and the town of Dolow on the Ethiopian border.


Louise Arbour on Self-Determination

Louise Arbour on Self-Determination

During the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, ICG President Louise Arbour speaks of the complexity facing international jurists in cases of territorial integrity and desires for self-determination, and discusses the variety of cases involved, from Kosova to Somaliland – all of whom are linked by a history lacking in access to inclusive governance.

Below is Louise Arbour's speech published by the International Crisis Group including access to video andaudio recordings:

Since 1998 the International Crisis Group has supported independence for Kosovo. Back then – even before the NATO war – Crisis Group argued that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been "unwilling to permit the free exercise of the Kosovo Albanians' right of self-determination" and that Kosovo was "now entitled to create its own international status, separate from that of the FRY".  The denial by the Belgrade government of the Kosovo Albanians' political, economic, cultural and social rights meant that they had a right to seek self-determination externally.

Since then we've published 46 reports on Kosovo. Our most recent, published last month, August 2010, included a controversial recommendation that international actors not prevent Kosovo and Serb negotiators including land swaps in their talks if that would help draw a close to the conflict. But our position on Kosovo independence has remained much the same for the last twelve years: we support Kosovo's right to secede and to be recognized as an independent state.

A few months ago, in May 2010, we published a report on war crimes in Sri Lanka. In it we detailed the violation of international humanitarian law by the Sri Lankan security forces and the Tamil Tigers during the last five months of their 30-year civil war. The evidence we gathered suggests that these months saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and the elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths. The evidence provides reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes, including the intentional shelling of civilians, of hospitals and of humanitarian operations, with top government and military leaders potentially responsible.

We called for an international investigation into the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, given both the absence of political will or capacity for genuine domestic investigations. We believe that accounting for crimes is necessary to address the grievances underlying conflict in Sri Lanka.  And yet, despite the increasing authoritarianism of the Sri Lanka government and its still appalling treatment of the Tamil minority, we believe that the best means of ensuring the Tamils' right to self determination is within the existing borders of the Sri Lankan state, with the Sri Lankan government improving both the conditions in which Tamils live and mechanisms for their representation in government. We even argue that the Tamil diaspora – chief source of financial and ideological support for the defeated Tigers – must not only renounce LTTE methods but also move away from its separatist ideology if it is to play a useful role in resolving the conflict.

In Sudan, the south's self determination referendum is scheduled for early 2011. If genuine, the vote will almost certainly see southerners vote for secession from the north. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2005 between north and south, which provides for the referendum, envisaged the Khartoum government implementing reforms that would make unity attractive to the south, including increasing opportunities for representation and wealth sharing and addressing the long standing discrimination against the periphery by Khartoum – the principle cause of conflict in Sudan. Very little progress has been made, however, on those reforms, mostly due to the intransigence of President Bashir's ruling National Congress Party. Crisis Group supported the implementation of the CPA, including its objective of making unity attractive. That goal appears to have failed, and we therefore argue that Sudanese, regional and international parties must prepare for south's secession, including by resolving questions of borders, oil revenue and international recognition. With a vote for independence likely, it is vital that the secession take place as peacefully as possible.

The conflicts in Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Sudan are only three of approximately sixty conflict situations on which Crisis Group reports. (We publish, incidentally, about 85 reports each year, all of which are sent around to policy makers and other subscribers and publicly available on our website. Most contain recommendations, and we promote our views through intensive advocacy, not only in Western capitals and the United Nations, but also increasingly in emerging centres of power in the global south. We believe that while mobilising public support is useful on some issues, on complex matters it is more important to engage directly the relevant policy-makers.)

As these three cases - Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Sudan - illustrate, a recurrent source of potential – and actual – deadly confrontation, and a frequent theme in our reporting, lies in a clash between the principle of territorial integrity and the right to self determination, a clash that take place at the confluence of law, politics, power, economics and identity. Crisis Group has dealt with a variety of situations in the last several years where conflict, including armed conflict, was triggered either by the purported exercise of the right to self determination, or by efforts to resist it. In many cases secession claims are rooted in a history of repression, exclusionary visions of governance, or the denial of rights to minority groups. I mentioned Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Sudan, but I could just as easily have included Montenegro – where we have supported independence; Northern Iraq – we have defended the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq; or Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Somaliland, Aceh or Kashmir – where we have avoided taking explicit positions either for or against secession.

Every conflict situation is of course different – as this list shows – so analysis must be first and foremost contextual. That said, it is useful to explore the contours of the right to self determination in order to offer prescriptions for conflict prevention that are as well anchored in law as they are in political reality.


The thrust of my argument starts from the basis that neither the right to self-determination nor the principle of territorial integrity can a priori trump each other. Only by understanding when – and how – the right to self-determination applies can we effectively put in place processes which stand some chance of averting – or rapidly ending – secessionist-based conflicts.

So let's start with the legal framework. And in that regard, the recent opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence provides a useful, but not a dispositive, backdrop. On 22 July 2010, The ICJ rendered its non-binding opinion on the question posed to it by the General Assembly, which was: 'Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?'

I don't propose to engage here in a detailed analysis of the opinion. Suffice to say that the court was careful to articulate the narrow scope of its opinion. It concluded that, in the circumstances, the Kosovo unilateral declaration was not in violation of international law. The court, however, went no further. It explicitly refrained from ruling on the legality of secession itself. As such it did not address the efficacy of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, or of the level of international recognition that it attracted, in creating an independent, sovereign Kosovo state. 

The ICJ's opinion in the Kosovo case may or may not lead to a wave of additional recognition for Kosovo's independence – these will be political reactions to the court's opinion. As the court points out, some unilateral declarations of independence have in the past been specifically repudiated by the international community – those of Southern Rhodesia in 1965, Northern Cyprus in 1983 and of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia in 1992. But in all these instances, the Security Council made a determination based on the concrete situation existing at the time those declarations were made. The illegality of those declarations of independence stemmed not from their unilateral character but from the fact that they were, or would have been, connected with the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of international law. The exceptional character of the resolutions regarding Southern Rhodesia, Northern Cyprus and of the Republika Srpska confirmed, in the view of the ICJ, that no general prohibition against unilateral declarations of independence could be inferred from previous Security Council decisions.

So while secessionists elsewhere would be wise to take limited comfort from the court's opinion in the Kosovo case; equally would those authorities who currently assert the sanctity of their existing borders as an absolute bar to any secessionist demands. The ICJ's Kosovo judgement leaves unanswered the important legal question of whether a right to secession can be found in the right to self-determination and if so, in what circumstances.

For that we need to examine the right to self determination – which is a fundamental human right, expressed as such in Art. 1 of the United Nations Charter, and in Art.1 of each of the two main international human rights instruments: the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Both covenants state that:

All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Even though it is formulated not as an individual right but as "the right of a people", it belongs to the body of international law that concerns itself directly with the rights of individuals, or peoples, rather than states, and is considered a general principle of international law.

The third paragraph in the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has particular significance in the context of the right to self determination and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. It reads as follows:

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights be protected by the rule of law,

Since self-determination is a fundamental human right, it should be protected by the rule of law if man is not to turn, as the preamble says "….as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression."  It is unclear whether turning to "rebellion" is meant to be a mere description of reality, or whether it contains an acceptance that in the face of tyranny and oppression, rebellion would be not only inevitable, but justifiable.

On its face, the right of peoples to freely determine their political status does not address how and when this right is to be exercised. Whether the exercise of the right to self determination includes an entitlement to full state sovereignty therefore requires an examination of the principle of the territorial integrity of states. That principle is most often advanced to block any secessionist claim. The ICJ in its consideration of the Kosovo case made an important observation – namely that the scope of the principle of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between States. By contrast, however, the right to self-determination deals with relations between states and "peoples". It is an important distinction – and when competing principles clash, they should be interpreted in a way that maximizes the fullest effect of both. We must therefore seek to reconcile these apparently competing principles.

International law has developed a framework to render these otherwise competing principles compatible by asserting that self-determination is a right that must initially be fulfilled internally. This imposes on sovereign states serious obligations regarding both democracy – participation, as the method for a people to freely determine its political status – and protection of minority rights, to ensure the free pursuit of a people's economic, social and cultural development.

In that way international law will protect the territorial integrity of a state whose government represents all the people or peoples on its territory, without discrimination and in full respect of their rights to pursue the fulfilment of their social, economic and cultural rights, including language rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of assembly and so forth.

But when a state is unable or unwilling to provide for the internal fulfilment of the right to self-determination, that right may become an external right, and at that point override the principle of territorial integrity by providing to "a people" a right to secede from a parent state. This has been recognized in the case of peoples under colonial rule or foreign occupation (although in that case it is in a sense their own territorial integrity which must be restored). But the same could be said of cases of subjugation, domination or exploitation of a people by its parent state, where the denial of the internal right to self-determination is so profound that the external right should be triggered.

In the Kosovo case, the ICJ referred to claims that the population of Kosovo has the right to create an independent state because of the province's recent history but explicitly refused to deal with that issue on the basis that it was beyond the scope of the question posed to it by the General Assembly.  The Supreme Court of Canada did consider the scope of the right to self -determination, in its landmark opinion in the Quebec secession Reference in 1996, and, without deciding the point, noted that a right to secession could possibly arises "where "a people" is denied any meaningful exercise of its right to self-determination within the state of which it forms a part." 

At this stage it is fair to say that there is in international law no right as such to secede unilaterally from a parent state, but the right to self-determination may permit, in certain circumstances, unilateral secession and in such a case international recognition completes the process and gives efficacy to the creation of the newly created state.

Of course the legal framework informs, but only partially, the political response to claims of that nature. From a conflict prevention perspective, there can be no absolutist position. Territorial integrity should not be maintained by the brutal internal repression of a people in violation of its right to self determination. That right requires that there be internal political space for the free pursuit of a people's social, economic and cultural development. But both international law and political reality will ensure that only a severe violation of that right –colonialism or equivalent subjugation – will trigger the external one.


Where secession claims are advanced, they should be addressed through peaceful, orderly processes. Secession should preferably be effected under domestic law: if the constitution - or, as in the case of Sudan - a Peace Agreement - provides for a secession mechanism this is the obvious path to follow. In the absence of a prescribed process, however, secession could still be effected consensually, with international actors supporting bi-lateral peaceful initiatives. The "velvet divorce" between Czechs and Slovaks is a good example.

Absent a consensual, negotiated successful process, however, I suggest that the international community should support a secessionist enterprise when the legal conditions are fulfilled, and when it is otherwise appropriate to do so. For the remainder of my time this morning, I would like to explore some of the other factors at play – and which often influence Crisis Group's position – in determining whether or not secession is advisable. But I wish to stress at the outset that the international community should not support the forceful repression of legitimate secessionist claims, unless these claims are themselves advanced by the illegitimate use of force.

The first of these criteria is one of last resort. As already discussed, claims of self determination should, ideally, be resolved within the framework of existing states. Generally we support independence only when there is no hope for the conflict to be resolved or the right to self determination realised within existing borders. In the case of Kosovo, for example, especially after the 1999 war, it would be impossible to promote greater Kosovar self-determination with the framework of the Yugoslav or Serbian state. Independence for Kosovo is the only solution likely to lead to lasting stability in the region. In the case of Somaliland, insistence by the African Union on the increasingly abstract notion of the unity and territorial integrity of the Somali Republic, with Somalilanders governed again from Mogadishu, is both unrealistic and unsupported by more than twenty years of state practice. Any attempt to re-impose centralized control by Mogadishu would almost certainly open a new chapter in the Somali civil war.

A second principle is one of popular support. The Kosovo Albanians' overwhelming support for independence is a key factor there. Questions of secession should be decided democratically – as in the Montenegro referendum in 2005 or the forthcoming self-determination referendum in Sudan. Crisis Group often draws attention to disparity between the more extreme claims of secessionist leaders and the frequently more moderate views of wider populations, who may be more realistic in their aspirations. The Supreme Court of Canada, for example, insisted that a secession referendum would require, at a minimum, a "clear majority" answering a "clear question". It is important also to consider the rights of the minorities within the secessionist minority, and the likelihood that their rights would be adequately protected within the newly separated state. Secession may provoke population displacements and further unrest if the newly created nation state is unwilling or unable to accommodate its own newly created national minorities.

It is in that sense that I understand the claim that sovereignty has to be earned. In general terms, I do not subscribe to the notion that fundamental human rights have to be earned. Yet Somaliland's democratic trajectory and functioning institutions bolster the legitimacy of its claims to independence. Similarly, ahead of Montenegro's referendum in 2005 we argued that Montenegro was "the only republic of the former Yugoslavia that has formed a genuinely multiethnic government without internal conflict", which strengthened the Montenegrin claims. Conversely, the Tamil Tigers brutal rule of Tamil areas, their atrocities – including ethnic cleansing and massacres – and their treatment of the Muslim minority do little to further Tamil secessionist claims.

A related concern is that of state feasibility. Can a territorial claim easily be asserted within existing or easily defined boundaries? Can the aspiring state become economically viable? I am careful here not to require economic viability at the outset, since many developing countries are not themselves currently economically self-sufficient and depend on international assistance for a large part of their annual budgets. The question is whether there is any realistic prospect of self-sufficiency, for instance through the exploitation of natural resources, even if considerable assistance will be required at the outset.

Moving further away from the legal entitlement to secession to the political reality of the need for political international recognition, one would have to consider the question of regional dynamics and precedents. Our calls on the African Union to engage positively with the question of recognition of Somaliland, our analysis of regional perspectives on the potential South Sudanese secession, and our advocacy of constructive EU engagement in the Balkans are examples. 

Finally, a host of intangible factors will come into play: history, culture, language, religion, emotional - some will say irrational - aspirations, grievances, loyalties - all these will come into the mix of initiatives and responses that may either support or thwart secessionist projects.


International actors would be wise to remember the warning in the preamble of the UDHR that people will turn to rebellion against tyranny and oppression unless they are protected by the rule of law.  They should therefore make every effort to promote the full respect of the right of peoples to self-determination by national governments. In order to avoid the emergence of legitimate secessionist claims, states must recognize legitimate grievances by their national minorities, and address them appropriately, including by providing some form of political autonomy, if appropriate, but certainly by ensuring political participation, as well as social, economic and cultural protections.

 Inclusive governance, the best prophylactic against many types of conflicts, also provides the best protection against secession claims surfacing, and turning violent, in the first place.  But even if they do turn violent, faced with a total breakdown of the rule of law, the international community cannot blindly support the monopoly over the use of force by governments who have forfeited any legitimate entitlement to such monopoly.