Somaliland’s impressive peacebuilding record since 1991 has been accompanied by statebuilding, which has been achieved within the framework of a collection of basic laws articulated first in charters and later in an interim constitution. Ibrahim Hashi Jama’s article explores the making of the Somaliland constitution and how it has been used to maintain peace and uphold democracy.
In the absence of an authoritative interpretation of the constitution from the Somaliland Constitutional Court, Somalilanders have looked for pragmatic solutions that ensure continuing peace.
Ibrahim Hashi Jama
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The extensive peacebuilding initiatives that took place in Somaliland between 1991 and 1997 underpinned the constitution making process. While the latter was not as participatory as the former, it was crucial for the transformation from conflict to peace and in shaping the governance framework.
Maintaining the peace
The constitution making process in Somaliland from 1991 to 1997 was very much intertwined with peacemaking and statebuilding efforts. No public grassroots consultations were undertaken on the contents of the charter or the constitution prior to their adoption. However the peacemaking grand conferences were attended by all the various clans (beelaha) of Somaliland and provided the legitimacy required for the adoption of the charter and interim constitution.
Two principles that underpin the Somaliland constitution are defined in its various provisions as “democratic principles and the multi-party system” and “peace and cooperation”. To what extent have these principles been upheld?
Upholding constitutional principles
Somaliland has managed to adopt a far from perfect, but sensible constitution that suits its current stage of political development. Yet it has become all too common for Somaliland politicians and others to ascribe some of the political and constitutional arguments or occasional crises that arise in Somaliland to defects in the text of the constitution.