Negotiating a Blueprint for Peace in Somalia
Negotiating a Blueprint for Peace in Somalia
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Overcoming Somaliland’s Worsening Political Crisis
Overcoming Somaliland’s Worsening Political Crisis
Report 59 / Africa

Negotiating a Blueprint for Peace in Somalia

The peace process in Somalia is at a critical point. Talks that began with great promise are in danger of collapsing unless the mediators, the international community and the Somali factions themselves provide stronger leadership.

Executive Summary

The peace process in Somalia is at a critical point. Talks that began with great promise are in danger of collapsing unless the mediators, the international community and the Somali factions themselves provide stronger leadership. The Somali public’s flagging interest and support for the process needs to be revived, and improvements are required in the negotiating process or the parties will be unable to tackle the many difficult outstanding issues. Unfortunately, the international community has remained reluctant to throw its full weight behind the peace talks, to take a tough line with those who are undermining it or generally to express a unified position on preferred outcomes.

This in turn has exacerbated the many deep divisions within both the warring Somali factions and Somali civil society. Without new energy and focus, the peace talks will likely fissure along all-too-predictable lines – federalism, the role of clans, and land and property issues, and how to tackle the problem of breakaway Somaliland, all of which would ensure that the country would remain without a meaningful central government.

Many at the talks continue to have largely unrealistic expectations that foreign donors will shower funds upon the country if any accord is reached, whatever its flaws – an expectation that has little to do with financial realities in Western capitals.

Who participates, and whether on the basis of faction or clan affiliation, will be critical not only to the outcome of the negotiations but also to their actual and perceived legitimacy. Both the faction leaders and civil society representatives at the talks are self-appointed. Ultimately, what matters most is not who “deserves” to sit at the table, but rather who possesses authority and legitimacy in sufficient measure to implement an agreement and deliver a lasting peace. Unless this is resolved, there is a real risk that the current negotiation will produce another “government in exile”, unable to provide a working administration inside the country that represents the general will.

More than a decade of war and lawlessness has already taken a terrible toll in Somalia. With new leadership in place from the IGAD states that sponsor the talks, the initiative still has important potential. Yet, there are no quick fixes when a country needs to be fundamentally reinvented, just as there are no acceptable excuses for allowing the opportunity for peace to pass.

Mogadishu/Brussels, 6 March 2003

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