“A single act of recognition could significantly elevate the living conditions and prospects of nearly six million people.”
Somaliland, a self-proclaimed independent state in northwestern Somalia, has been on a quest for international legitimacy since it broke away from Somalia in 1991.
Despite decades of perseverance, the East African nation still needs to be acknowledged on the global stage. Internationally, it has yet to be recognized as sovereign, even though it enjoys self-governance with a democratically elected government.
Distinct differences, equal consideration
Discussing his forthcoming Republic of Somaliland (Recognition) Bill, Sir Gavin openly criticized the UK’s policy towards Somalia and Somaliland.
He recounted his experience visiting both regions as defense secretary: “My visit to Mogadishu in Somalia presented a stark contrast to Hargeisa in Somaliland. The former was characterized by chaos and insecurity, while the latter represented stability and normalcy.”
In a tone rife with frustration, Sir Gavin reflected, “We recognize the chaotic nation without the rule of law and fail to acknowledge the country with stability, conducting elections and offering education to all children. The UK’s foreign policy doesn’t reflect the realities on the ground.”
Recognition could pave the way for benefits not only for Somaliland but also for the international community.
Sir Gavin said, “Recognition is crucial for British security and global trade due to Somaliland’s strategic position near the Gulf of Aden.”
His argument underscored the importance of endorsing nations that share the same values. “We should encourage countries that align with us rather than rewarding those that don’t.”
Unraveling diplomatic inertia
When questioned why the international community continues disregarding the de facto state in the Horn of Africa, Sir Gavin pointed to a “paralysis within diplomacy.”
He said, “There seems to be a commitment to maintaining the status quo, neglecting the evolving realities on the ground.”
Addressing Britain’s historical involvement in Somaliland and Somalia, Sir Gavin highlighted the UK’s role as the UN pen-holder for both regions.
“We have a duty to spark discussions on addressing this diplomatic stagnation. Ignoring the issue doesn’t diminish its importance or make it disappear.”
If the Republic of Somaliland (Recognition) Bill goes ahead, it could shatter decades of diplomatic stalemate, renewing hopes for Somaliland’s long-awaited international recognition.