Self-Determination in Somaliland

A look at the legal issues surrounding the self-determination of Somaliland in the context of international law.

This paper deals with Somaliland’s claim to self-determination by an examination of the resolutions of the General Assembly and opinions of the international crisis group. It also seeks to examine what makes a state in the legal sense and what legal requirements are necessary to have soveriegnty. The idea of terrritorial integrity is also discussed at great length as well as the opinions of the International Court of Justice.
If Somaliland is basing its claim for independence on self-determination then it is possible to argue that Somaliland is edging towards what has been described by Martti Koskenniemi as the romantic idea of self-determination rather than the purely legal idea. In saying this, what is implied is that the inhabitants of Somaliland see the state of Somalia as failing and they wish to breathe new political life into their state. In fact the ICG has gone as far as to describe Somalia as a failed state . This type of argument goes against the traditional legal opinion, this viewpoint attempts to reconcile claims of self determination with statehood by dealing with them as claims for national minorities to participate more fully in public life. This could also be argued as being true in the case of Somaliland, the dominance of the Mogadishu government in areas such as the police force and the military could be seen as a basis for their claims of statehood.