Mark Bradbury and Sally Healy draw policy lessons for the future from Somali and international peacemaking explored in Accord 21. They suggest that the international community, and especially regional bodies such as IGAD and the AU need to find better ways to move the country out of its protracted crisis, using methods that are both more responsive to Somali realities and more genuinely accountable to Somali constituencies.
The international community needs to ﬁnd better ways to move the country out of this protracted crisis, using methods that are both more responsive to Somali realities and more genuinely accountable to Somali constituencies.
Mark Bradbury and Sally Healy
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A vision of a Somali state
“In Somali tradition, the important question is not what happened but rather how did it end?”
- Regional autonomy and decentralised governance provided the basis of negotiations in the 1993 Addis Ababa conference, following the collapse of a highly centralised state. The model was rejected by warlords who saw it as a threat to their own power.
- The emergence of autonomous and semi-autonomous regional polities, like Somaliland and Puntland, and nascent polities in the inter-riverine regions in the south gave rise to the concept of reviving a state through a series of federated ‘building blocks’. Ethiopia favoured the federal model that is similar to its own and which, it believes, will diminish the threat of irredentist Somali nationalism that has historically been a source of insecurity.
- The Arta process in Djibouti in 2000 reversed this trend and revived the notion of a unitary state. The Transitional National Government (TNG) established at Arta explicitly claimed sovereignty over Somaliland. This reflected the concerns of the economically powerful Hawiye clans in Mogadishu, a position supported by Arab states that saw a strong Somalia as a counter-weight to Ethiopian hegemony. This was, naturally, rejected by Ethiopia, which supported the armed opposition alliance, the Somali Restoration and Reconciliation Council (SRRC), dominated by the Darood and other non-Hawiye clans.
- The failure of the TNG opened the door to IGAD-facilitated talks in Kenya in 2002-04, which were tilted in favour of a federal state structure. The debate was heavily influenced by Ethiopia, and pressure on Somaliland and Puntland to participate was lifted. The federal approach lacked support from Mogadishu-based clans and religious groups. The talks produced a Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
- The leadership of the Islamic Courts Union, which emerged in opposition to the TFG, made clear their desire for a unitary Somali state that rejected Somaliland and Puntland autonomy. Militant Islamists have gone further, proclaiming their vision of an Islamic caliphate that incorporates all Muslim communities in the Horn of Africa, a position seen as a clear security threat by Ethiopia.
The accountability gap
This report has identified many ways in which Somali-led peace processes differ from their internationally brokered counterparts. It has argued that much could be learnt from the success of Somali-led processes, both in the procedures and the substance of conflict resolution. But the most critically important missing ingredient is accountability.