Political Settlements And State Formation: The Case Of Somaliland

By Sarah G. Phillips

Why did the civil wars in Somaliland end while Somalia’s continued? This paper asks why large-scale violence was resolved in the internationally unrecognized ‘Republic of Somaliland’ but not in the rest of Somalia.

The case of Somaliland offers insights into why some domestic power struggles – including violent ones – build the foundations for relative political order while others perpetuate cycles of economic malaise and political violence.

Key points:

Legitimate institutions are those born through local political and social processes, this paper argues, and these are largely shaped through the leadership process. Among its findings are the importance in Somaliland of:

  • a domestically-funded peace process that motivated strategic symbiosis among elites;
  • a lack of predetermined institutional endpoints;
  • Somalilanders’ conscious desire for an enclave of peace within the surrounding turmoil;
  • quality secondary education.

Read the Research Paper here.

Sarah Phillips

Sarah_PhilipsSarah Phillips is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Sydney’s Department of Government and International Relations. She has a particular focus on the politics of state-building. She spent several years living and working in Yemen and has advised numerous Western governments and aid agencies on matters relating to Yemen and the Middle East. Her most recent book, ‘Yemen and the Politics of Permanent Crisis’ analyses the nature of the country’s informal institutions amid rapid political and social change.
Her broad research interests include the securitization of development, the politics of contemporary state-building, the management of violence beyond the state, and informal institutions. The primary geographic scope of her work is the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, with a specific focus on Yemen and Somalia/Somaliland.


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