The Misapplication of Territorial Integrity

Critics of the Somaliland-Ethiopia Memorandum of Understanding frequently invoke the principle of territorial integrity to challenge us. However, this line of argumentation is misguided, and there are multiple angles from which to demonstrate this. While one might anticipate that, as a supporter of Somaliland, I would default to the typical arguments surrounding its colonial borders, its status as a non-succeeding entity, and so forth, this article has a different focus. Instead, it seeks to explore the following question: Can a country that does not recognize Somaliland consider the Memorandum of Understanding as a direct or indirect infringement on Somalia's territorial integrity?

Firstly and by all means, nations have the right to withhold recognition from Somaliland without distorting international law principles. State recognition is a political discretionary act, not a legal statement. let me make this clear. The recognition of a sovereign state (de facto or not) followed by any agreement does not violate international law or violate directly or indirectly the territorial integrity of a state. As long as no force is used by Ethiopia to take land ruled by Somalia, there is no violation.

Proof #1 Territorial integrity is mentioned under Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter. This article's title is about the prohibiting force so it does not accurately apply in this context.

Proof #2 Territorial integrity is defined as a sovereign state's right to defend its borders against external aggression. There is no external aggression by Ethiopia on Somalia (even if you foolishly include Somaliland)

Proof #3 When discussing the use of force, the International Court of Justice's commentary on the Kosovo adv. opinion says territorial integrity is a principle relevant only to the conduct between states. So on Somaliland's side, there is no violation by making the deal or using force in the 1980s to control and liberate Somaliland and start making deals

Proof#4 Territorial integrity is about protecting a state's borders. The MOU does not create new borders or new realities. The border between Somaliland and Somalia is already there factually and historically. Yes, there is a dispute but the MoU doesn't change one inch to either direction

In conclusion, Ethiopia's recognition of Somaliland does not constitute a breach of territorial integrity. Somaliland’s statehood already meets the criteria defined in the Montevideo Convention and by the simple principle of uti possidetis Again, state recognition of a UDI remains a discretionary political act and doesn't break international law