Article 1 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of State requires a state to have a permanent population, a well defined territory, democratic rule and the capability to maintain diplomatic relations with other countries. Somaliland has fulfilled these requirements, because, it has a permanent population; its borders were drawn by the British Colonial power; and it has a well defined territory within these borders . It has unambiguous international borders with neighbouring countries, over which it retains adequate control.
In addition to these basic requirements, it also has effective control over its citizens, due to the presence of a representative democratic governmental system. In addition, Somaliland has the proven capacity to enter into agreements and relations with the rest of the world . In the year 1992, the European Union stipulated certain criteria that were to be met, if it was to recognise new states. However, these requirements apply only to the Europe states. Nevertheless, Somaliland has satisfied these requirements.
Article 4 of the African Union Charter has clearly stated that it recognises African countries on the basis of their colonial – drawn borders. There are 53 African states that had been recognised as having diplomatic status and independence, on the application of this Article. Somaliland is not a secessionist state or separatist state . There is historical evidence that Somaliland had gained independence much before Somalia, in 1960. This fact had been recognised by international bodies such as the United Nations, the Arab League and the African Union. It is also a fact that Somaliland has colonial borders.
Moreover, it is one among the seventeen states in Africa, to have gained independence from a colonial power. Its unification with Somalia for thirty years had not been ratified and hence remained unofficial . Subsequently it had withdrawn from Somalia due to the destructive civil war and the violence perpetrated by the warlords of the southern part. As such, thirty– five nations across the world had recognised the diplomatic status and independence of Somaliland, before it had merged with Somalia. These nations included Egypt, Israel and the permanent Members of the UN Security Council .
History has been witness to a number of incidents, wherein there had been a withdrawal of states from a union. For instance, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia had successfully withdrawn from the former Soviet Union in 1989 following its collapse. In the 1990’s, Bosnia and Macedonia had withdrawn from the Federation of Yugoslavia and established themselves as separate states. In the year 2002, East Timor had withdrawn from Indonesia and declared its independence. Moreover, the United Nations had recognised the above mentioned nations as separate independent states.
Therefore, Somaliland is not the first or only state to have withdrawn from a union . Although, Somaliland had fulfilled the same procedure and requirements as the other withdrawing nations, it was not recognised by the UN. In addition to this, Somaliland is not the only country to have merged itself voluntarily with some other state and subsequently withdrawn itself from that union. There have been several instances of such occurrences. For example, the former unions of Egypt and Syria, Senegal and Gambia, and Senegal and Mali, Rwanda and Burundi had taken place in a manner that was similar to the union of Somaliland and Somalia .