Recognition & International Law

All these states, subsequently, withdrew from their mergers. Furthermore, Somaliland is not the only or first colonial state to have acquired independence, formed a union with some other state and then separated from such union. There were other states such as Eritrea and the Sahrawi Republic, which had also gained independence from a colonial power, formed a union and later on separated from that union. These countries gained entry into the African Union, where as Somaliland was denied such membership.

The latter had conducted a referendum in the year 2001, in order to obtain the consent of its citizens for the constitution of the country . This referendum proved to be a landmark event in the history of Somaliland, as it displayed the opinion and will of the majority of the people of Somaliland. This referendum was supervised by eminent international election monitors. The people of the nation had demanded that their country should be an independent and sovereign state.

This decision was the will of the people, hence it cannot be ignored by the United Nations, the African Union or the Arab League . These organisations have to respect the overwhelming will of the citizens of Somaliland; and these bodies cannot overturn the decision of the people of a nation. More than 97% of citizens of Somaliland had voted affirmatively in the referendum. The majority of the population had demanded that it should withdraw from Somalia and the old Constitution of 1961 was to be repealed. This old constitution had been the basis for the disastrous merger with Somalia .

The people of Somaliland had opposed the violence and destruction that had taken place at the behest of the ethnic groups of the southern part of the country. Therefore, it is the duty of the international community to respect the existence of Somaliland and to grant it with diplomatic status and allow it to enter into relations and agreements with the other nations. The international community must respect the fundamental human rights of the citizens of Somaliland. This move would prevent future genocides and civil wars in the African continent.

If the international community insists that Somaliland should be reunited with Somalia, then such insistence would result in greater hatred and unending civil war in these two states . There are several factors that determine the process of recognition of new states by the international community. Some of these important factors include international law, the interests of neighbouring countries and other states, the political perspectives, and strategic considerations and arrangements. Such recognition must also consider the prevention of any possible conflict in the future.

Moreover, recognition is to be accorded by some other nation; therefore, the process of recognition is always a discretionary act . There are no strict rules that states should be recognised immediately upon receiving independence. This can be seen in the case of Somaliland’s request for its recognition and its aspiration to become a member of the African Union. All that is required for Somaliland to acquire membership of the African Union is the concurrence of a simple majority of the Member States of the latter .