In late 2020, President Trump made an announcement declaring the United States' official recognition of Morocco's claims over Western Sahara. This decision challenged the stances of international organizations such as the United Nations, International Court of Justice, and even the African Union.
On the other side of the continent, we find Somaliland, where its citizens have adeptly debunked legal misconceptions surrounding their statehood. A new generation of Somaliland advocates confidently assert, "It's not de facto, stupid!" They rightfully emphasize a widely accepted understanding based on the fact that Somaliland has never lost its independence due to the unratified and rejected act of union in 1960.
While understanding Somaliland's legal status is important, it is also worth examining the case of Western Sahara and observing how superpowers have found numerous ways to recognize a country, regardless of legal conventions. However, it seems that at times, Somaliland advocacy focuses more on instructing the world on the process of recognition rather than highlighting the need for recognition itself. This approach can lead to various undesired outcomes.
Firstly, if we convey to the nation that the lack of recognition is solely due to the order of words used or a weak legal argument, we will inevitably disappoint them when a well-crafted narrative fails to yield results. Secondly, such an approach shifts the focus away from the actual attributes that Somaliland possesses, which are key to achieving recognition.
To provide the Somaliland public with a clearer indication of when recognition will be achieved, we need to shift the paradigm from addressing the "how" to explaining the "why." The reasons become evident when we consider the impressive list of Somaliland admirers, including prominent figures like Bill Gates and a significant portion of the UK Parliament. Somaliland serves as a model of good governance, thriving without relying on external aid and despite limited resources. It's essential to highlight that Somaliland boasts the most democratic country in the Horn of Africa with double the GDP per capita of Somalia. Moreover, the significant investments in oil, ports, and mines contribute to the nation's progress. We should also acknowledge the evolution of Somaliland's ambitions, from ethnic territorial expansion to reclaiming its ancient status as a global market hub linking the East and the West through the Berberian Gulf.
As a Somalilander who has lived in various countries around the world, I have noticed that none of them celebrate their independence day by displaying the termination of treaties with their colonizers. The lack of recognition has posed significant challenges. However, there is much to celebrate, including the bravery displayed throughout history, from the Adal Empire to the Somaliland Scouts, the SNM, and the Somaliland National Army. Institutions like the Sheikh school, which we were proud of before independence, have now been succeeded by Amoud University. June 26 should be a day to celebrate the continuous achievements of our country since its modern and continuous existence since 1960, and even its rich history dating back to 1 AD.
Such celebrations align well with the question of why Somaliland is not recognized. The answer lies in demonstrating to our supporters that we are consistent in our commitment to in-house democracy, political and economic freedoms. The more we have to celebrate, the more countries will acknowledge that Somaliland is a reliable partner and a role model for East Africa.