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OPINION: Somalia Could not have Legal Instruments to prevent Somaliland from Entering Agreements with other Countries

By Mohamed Farah

As the Iran Press TV broadcasted, Somalia’s government is reportedly planning to file a legal case against the rulers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for setting up a military base in the unrecognized breakaway republic of Somaliland.

Somalia will fail any legal claims against Somaliland. The Government of Somaliland has the strongest legal case in the international law and conventions as its sovereignty is based primarily legal instruments. There was no Act of Union at all between Somaliland and Somalia, and Somalia cannot claim that Somaliland is part of them legally.

Somaliland’s independence restores the colonial borders of the former British Protectorate of Somaliland and therefore does not violate the principle of uti possidetis – that former colonial borders should be maintained upon independence – which is enshrined in the Consultative Act of the African Union.

The unification of Somalia and Somaliland failed to meet domestic or international legal standards for treaty formation, and the Act of Union falls short of the Vienna Convention’s legal requirements for a valid international treaty.

The Somali government’s Auditor General Nur Jimale Farah will fail his claims over Somaliland’s agreements with UAE and others. Before he claims, I hereby convey message telling him that Somaliland will win on the basis of the following legal documents:

  1. The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States is a treaty signed at Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 26, 1933.
  2. The Constitutive Act of the African Union, signed on 11 July 2000 at Lomé, Togo.
  3. Protocol to the African Charter on Human And Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, June 10, 1998,
  4. The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, also known as the “New York Arbitration Convention” or the “New York Convention 1958”
  5. UN Resolution on United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, 14 December 1960).
  6. UN Resolution on Recognition by the United Nations of the Representation of a Member State (Adopted by the 325th plenary session of General Assembly on 14 December 1950).
  7. Charter of the United Nations, Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, 26 June 1945.
  8. Convention on the Law of Treaties: Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties (Signed at Vienna, 23 August 1978),
  9. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (Signed at Vienna, 23 May 1969, Entered into Force, 27 January 1980),
  10. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or between International Organizations (Signed at Vienna, 21 March 1986).

Somaliland has the strongest justification over other 23 unrecognized states as it’s the only one with defacto control of its territory and has defined colonial territory in 1960.

The people of Somaliland – 97.9% of whom voted for the country’s constitution which enshrines independence – also feel passionately that they have the right to self-determination.

Mohamed Farah Abdi is a political expert, based in Hargeisa, Somaliland. He can be reached at:

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Alleastafrica, its affiliates, or its employees.

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