The Rights & International Law

The 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States has provided a comprehensive and widely accepted definition for statehood. Despite being very simple in nature and application, it nevertheless, constitutes a definition that has near unanimous acceptance. This convention specifies that the recognition seeking state must have a permanent population, defined territorial borders, a strong and effective government and the capacity to enter into agreements and relations with other states if the world .

In practice, it is not easy for any state to obtain the recognition of the international community even though it has successfully fulfilled these requirements and even though it functions as an independent state. There is no guarantee for such recognition. However, the fact remains that Somaliland had fulfilled the requirements laid down by the Montevideo Convention. It has a permanent population, which is estimated at more than three million. In terms of population, Somaliland occupies the thirty – eighth rank among the fifty – five African states .

Its population is permanent and stable at all times. Albeit, there are some inhabitants who are nomadic pastoralists; this in no way affects the status of its permanent population. With regard to defined territory, its territorial borders had been well defined by the colonial British authorities through three treaties, which were duly entered into between the British, and the French and the Italian governments. In addition, the Ethiopian government had also entered into a treaty with the British, regarding the territorial borders of Somaliland .

The total area of Somaliland according to these recognised boundaries is 137,000 square kilometres. This area had been granted to it along with independence by the British government in the year 1960. Somaliland is the thirty – sixth among the other fifty – five African states in respect of size. Although, International law does not reject any claim to a defined territory of a state, there is a possibility that other states may dispute these claims and thereby complicate the process of granting recognition .

With regard to government, Somaliland has established an effective functional central government through representative democratic system, which effectively controls and governs the entire territory in its possession. It has a national flag, national currency, crest and other symbols of statehood. Somaliland has adopted a constitution that was approved of through a nationwide referendum. It has a bicameral parliament, a judiciary that acts independently, an electoral commission which oversees elections at all levels, national army, police and custodial systems .

Somaliland has established official and unofficial arrangements and entered into agreements with a number of states and international organisations. It has entered into cooperative agreements with Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Denmark, the UK and the UN. The areas of cooperation are security, trade, immigration and other developmental activities. The Montevideo criteria cannot be applied in isolation and in the case of Somaliland, the fact emerges that the latter had been part of a state that had been recognised as a separate state .