January 30, 2016 - Written by wariye999

1.0 Background of the study
After the collapse of Siyaad Barre’s regime in 1991, the Somali nation was in tatters (in bad condition). The Somali National Movement (SNM) had taken control of most of the Northern Regions or Gobalada Waqooyiga of the erstwhile Somali Democratic Republic. Their area of dominance extended from Erigavo through Burao, Hargeisa and Borama to Lawya’addo, which shares a border with Djibouti. In the western-most corner of the Northern Regions, cessation of hostilities between the SNM and the Awdal people was agreed after confrontation between the respective clan militia. In the central people areas, including the environs of Hargeisa, Berbera and Burao, government forces removed themselves or were captured, while in Eastern areas, truce agreements had been negotiated between the SNM and each of the opposing clans, at the instigation of one or other party, over the months preceding the fall of the Mogadishu government.

In the second half of February 1991, the SNM leadership and delegates from all the central people and major non-central people clans in the area, including the western and eastern poeple, met in Berbera. At that conference, all parties confirmed their bilateral agreements to end inter-clan hostilities, and to continue reconciliation efforts between the clans and to hold another conference, this time in Burao, to make further necessary decisions on the administration of the Northern Regions. On 18th May 1991 at this second national meeting, the SNM Central Committee, with the support of a meeting of elders representing the major clans in the Northern Regions, declared the restoration of the Republic of Somaliland, covering the same area as that of the former British Protectorate. The Burao conference also established a government for the Republic; an administration that inherited a war-ravaged country in which tens of thousands of people had been killed, many thousands injured, and the main cities, Hargeisa and Burao, almost entirely destroyed. The territory had been extensively mined, yet with the establishment of peace, hundreds of thousands of internally and externally displaced people were starting to return home. At the same time, thousands of clan-affiliated militia (both SNM and opposing clans) were rendered surplus to requirements, yet remained armed. Given the extent of this destruction of infrastructure, the enormous displacement of people, and the daunting range and magnitude of the many related challenges, the transformation of Somaliland in the past 16 years has been remarkable. Today, Somaliland boasts a degree of stability that exceeds that of the other Somali territories and has taken many credible steps towards the establishment of a genuinely pluralistic democracy. The system of governance has evolved from a beel (clan-based) system, to one of multi-party democracy, in which clan affiliation continues to play a significant part.

Somaliland has had four presidents since 1991, each of them selected on a peaceful basis: Presidents Abdirahman Ahmed Ali ‘Tuur’, Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, Dahir Rayale Kahin, and the incumbent Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud, who won an election in 2010 by a handful of votes. In addition to a peaceful process of presidential selection, a new Constitution was approved by referendum on 31 May 2001 by 97.1% of voters, and successful elections have also been held for local administrations (December 2002) and the lower house of Parliament (September 2005). There have nevertheless been numerous incidents of harassment of journalists by the authorities, including their imprisonment on dubious grounds, which undermine an otherwise relatively high level of press freedom. Lack of international recognition has nevertheless proven an impediment, restricting access to many international political forums and global economic and aid institutions. In spite of this often remarkable progress, though, considerable challenges lie ahead. It is to be hoped that the lessons learned from the 1991-1997 peace and reconciliation processes can be applied to the resolution of future issues without recourse to the violence that sometimes accompanied the initiatives of that period.
This research will present information that speaks about what is guurti and what are their role in Somaliland dispute settlement towards peace-building initiatives and processes and learned lessons? Also the theoretical perspectives of dispute settlement which are related to this study and also why the Somaliland peace-building processes become successful in comparison with Somalia.

1.1 What is the Guurti[ ]?

“The Guurti is a traditional forum for elders for mediation,” Edward Paice, director at the Africa Research Institute in London, told IRIN. “Since time immemorial it has been a way of settling disputes.”

Elders used to convene under an acacia tree to arbitrate rows, using a customary legal process known in Somali as ‘xeer’. Disputing parties would bring their concerns to the elders, and the proceedings would continue until a resolution was achieved.

Leading up to the fall of Somali president Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991, Somaliland engaged in a brutal secession war with Somalia. In May 1991, Somaliland declared independence as Somalia dissolved into civil strife and eventual state failure. When Somaliland was torn apart by violence, the Guurti stepped in.

“This was one of the key institutions that was functioning at the time,” said Mohamed Farah Hersi, a researcher at the Academy for Peace and Development in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa, speaking at an event in Nairobi, Kenya.

Clan elders came together for a number of peace conferences in the early-1990s, the most prominent of which was the Elders Conference at Borama in 1993. This led to the creation of the 82-member Guurti, which formalized the mediation system as a parliamentary body. In Borama, the Guurti also elected Somaliland’s president and vice president.

“They were peacemakers for Somaliland,” acknowledged Markus Hoehne, a strong critic of the contemporary Guurti system and a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. “Those guys put their lives on the line. They went to different conflict zones, often at great personal risk.”

Hoehne believes that in the early 1990s, the Guurti was instrumental in rebuilding the country, but says that now the role and composition of the body is outdated.

The Guurti was responsible for drafting Somaliland’s constitution, which was passed in a 2001 referendum by an overwhelming majority.

According the constitution, the Guurti “shall have special responsibility for passing laws relating to religion, traditions (culture) and security”, in addition to reviewing legislation passed by the House of Representatives.

“They are the centre of gravity. They are the cornerstone,” Adam Haji-Ali Ahmed, director at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Hargeisa, told IRIN. “One hundred percent of people in Somaliland trust the Guurti. They preach about peace.”
2.2 Peace Initiatives and Processes: 1981-1997 [ ]

During the period of his government, Siyaad Barre’s policies of patronage were seen by many, including the central clans in the Northern Regions as designed to reduce their own control over traditional range lands, and consequently generated a sense of grievance against his administration. Although Siyaad Barre’sregime was initially marked by strong anti-clan rhetoric, he increasingly resorted to exploitation of clan divisions in an effort to retain his hold on power, especially after the disastrous war with Ethiopia over the reserve area in the late 1970s (Drysdale, 1994: 136). Perhaps inevitably, it ultimately cost him his leadership.

There is no question that he deliberately targeted the central people, attempting to conscript the efforts of the non-central people northern clans in this pursuit. With deliberate exploitation of clan division such a notable feature of the conflict, it was possibly inevitable, although also the subject of considerable internal debate, that the SNM itself became heavily identified as a central people opposition movement. This politicization of clan affiliation was further complicated by the fact that many of the clans on opposing sides of the conflict had long histories of inter-marriage, trade and shared borders and pasture areas. For those in the Northern Regions, this deepened distrust between clans, and when open conflict come it was the more brutal and personalized as a result. While it can be misleading to view this period of conflict as resting purely on a clan base, it is also true that relative success in establishing peace and stability in Somaliland was achieved as a result of a series of peace and reconciliation conferences between the northern clans. A notable factor in enabling this process lay in the SNM’s commitment, increasingly applied over the course of their insurgency, to create linkages with other clans (Saleebaan Afqarshe in ‘Adami’, 2008; APD, 2007a; Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, line 23).

This study has identified some 39 peace conferences and meetings that took place between 1990 and1997. These peace initiatives fulfilled a variety of roles, including:

• Restoration of relations between communities affected by the war;
• Establishment of a relatively stable security regime in which law and order has increasingly fallen within the ambit of a system of partially decentralized government;
• Establishment of local and national institutions of governance; and
• Creation of an environment conducive to economic growth and the beginnings of what might be considered a more broadly-defined process of development.

The conflict process and then the peace and reconciliation can be divided into five phases, in which numerous local and national conferences helped to stabilize Somaliland and to re-establish institutions of
Governance and law and order:

1. SNM Insurgency: The period of the civil war between the SNM and the Siyaad Barre regime, concluding with the fall of Siyaad Barre in January 1991;
2. Peace-Building: The five months from January to May 1991, culminating in the Burao conference at which the independence of Somaliland was declared;
3. Establishment of Security and Government: June 1991 until May 1993 covers the first SNM government and culminates in the Borama conference;
4. Institution-Building: June 1993 until February 1997, during which Somaliland was divided by civil war,
But progress was also made in establishing government, culminating in the 1997 Hargeisa conference; and
5. Democratization: The period after the 1997 Hargeisa conference, through until the present day.
In order to provide maximum focus on the nature of reconciliation and peace and institution-building in Somaliland and the lessons derived from them, this Overview focuses on the first four phases, while the majority of the report concentrates more specifically still on the sequence leading up to the Burao conference, followed by that leading to the Borama conference, as well as the parallel Sanaag process.
While the conferences held through each of the four periods following the insurgency differed in terms of organization, scope and attendance, all shared a number of key characteristics: they were funded largely or wholly by Somaliland communities themselves, including those in the Diaspora; they involved the voluntary participation of the key figures from each of the clans affected; and decisions were taken by broad consensus amongst delegates.
The 1997 conference in Hargeisa was the last in the series leading to the establishment of an administrative system that has since proven relatively stable. It involved a number of highly significant milestones, including the adoption of an interim Constitution and the extension of the government’s mandate in managing conflicts within Somaliland (WSP-International, 2005). Since this establishment of a broadly accepted administrative system across much of the country, the number and role of inter-clan peace conferences of the type described has diminished. The exception has been in Sool and eastern Sanaag in eastern Somaliland, where elders have continued to play a significant role in resolving conflicts in areas still contested with Puntland.

1.1.1 PHASE 1 (1981 – December 1990): The SNM Insurgency
The Somali National Movement (SNM) was formed in London on 6 April 1981, with the purpose of organizing armed resistance to the Siyaad Barre regime (Drysdale, 1994: 136). From the beginning, the Movement practiced a degree of internal democracy unique amongst the Somali resistance movements of the period (Drysdale, 1994). Indeed, over the course of the insurgency, the SNM had five leaders; each was selected in accordance with the SNM constitution, and involved a peaceful transition (Duale, 2007d: 450; Siilaanyo, 2007a, line 490).

By 1982, the SNM had established bases in Ethiopia, from where they engaged in guerrilla-style conflict against Siyaad Barre’s forces in Somalia. In May 1988, an all-out offensive was launched against government forces in Hargeisa and Burao. The government responded with a brutal ground and aerial bombardment. Over 50,000 civilians are estimated to have died and more than 500,000 to have fled across the border to Ethiopia (WSP-International, 2005: 13). The two largest towns in the Northern Regions and many surrounding villages were systematically looted, destroyed and mined by government forces.

As the SNM gained control over territory in the north, approaches were instigated, in some instances by the SNM themselves, and in others by opposing clans. In one of the most significant early examples of such an approach, the Garaad Abdiqani initiated talks in the Ethiopian towns of Qararro, Danood, Gashaamo and Gowlalaale in February 1990 with representatives of some central clans. A similar conference took place in August of the same year in Gashaamo with another some central clans. These discussions resulted in truce agreements between the parties, and underlined the SNM commitment to reaching peaceful settlements with neighboring clans (Saleebaan Afqarshe in APD, 2007a; Drysdale, 1994: 139).
The fact that these reconciliations involved separate negotiations with two of the three largest central people clans (the Hargeisa and Berbera people were not involved) reflected two dynamics: firstly, tensions between two clans of central people were becoming pronounced, a factor that would later result in outright conflict between them; and secondly both clans had long lived closest to the sool and sanaag clans. They had consequently amassed a large number of mutual grievances, as well as more complex inter-relationships with the sool and sanaag clans than other central clans. It was feared that fighting might spread from urban locations to pastoral areas; an eventuality that would have benefited neither side.

However, while these agreements did amount to significant steps towards cessation of hostilities, the process remained incomplete. Of the major sub-clans, the Awdal people had yet to agree a truce (‘Adami’, 2008), and many specific issues remained unresolved between each of the clan groupings. There was therefore an urgent need to address a raft of complex and often inter-related issues. At this point, in the words of the notable commentator John Drysdale, “… to have taken or encouraged vengeance would have resulted in internecine warfare, as happened in the south. Instead, the SNM relied on a traditional approach, invoking the skills of the clan elders … [in an effort to] heal the rifts … [amongst the northern clans]” (Drysdale, 1994: 139). This remarkably far-sighted policy was largely pursued with vigor and is perhaps one of the major factors in enabling the stability which, with notable but thus far contained exceptions, has prevailed since.
1.1.2 PHASE 2 (January – June 1991): Peace-Building
In order to begin the process of addressing the web of outstanding issues, the SNM held a series of localised peace conferences, building up to a national meeting in Berbera in February 1991, which in turn set the scene for a larger national conference to be held in Burao in April/May.

Oog Conference (2nd to 8th February 1991)
When the SNM entered Burao in January 1991, sool elders and garaads in the Laas ‘Aanood area made contact through the small number of sool community in the SNM and told them that the sool poeple were ready to continue the reconciliation process with the Isaaq.
The SNM agreed to attend a meeting to be hosted by the sool people in the town of Oog. Contact was made on 28th January, and the meeting was set for the beginning of February, to be attended by members of the central clans (Saleebaan Afqarshe in APD, 2007a).
The SNM delegation duly arrived, led by the Regional Commander of Togdheer, Mohamed Kahin, and the Togdheer Governor, Hassan Adbdille Walanwal ‘Kayd’, accompanied by twenty trucks of central people delegates. The sool people remained suspicious that the SNM delegation might engage in reprisals, so the delegation was ordered to disarm, to leave their transport, and to mingle with the Sool people to show their peaceful intent. This display allayed Sool people fears and the meeting took place successfully (Saleebaan Afqarshe in APD, 2007a).
The Sool people delegation was led by Garaad Abdiqani, Garaad Saleebaan, and other Sool elders, intellectuals and military officers. Because the sanaag people had been unable to send delegates to the meeting, the Sool people delegation also spoke on their behalf. The Oog meeting was essentially an opportunity to determine the next steps in the reconciliation process, and agreement was consequently reached that a further and more substantial conference would take place in Berbera in one week’s time. The Sool people agreed to inform the Sanaag people of this arrangement, and to seek their participation in Berbera. In the intervening week, the Sool people returned to Laas ‘Aanood for their own internal conference of subclans, and the Sanaag people agreed to meet the Sool people delegation in Oog in time to travel with them to Berbera on 8 February (Saleebaan Afqarshe in APD, 2007a).
Tulli (Dilla) and Borama Meetings (early February 1991)
With the SNM now in control of most of the Northern Regions, or else having agreed ceasefires with local sub-clans, the Gadabuursi in Awdal region, western Somaliland, were the last large clan group with whom the SNM had yet to agree a ceasefire. Once the SNM had defeated Siyaad Barre’s 26th Division in Hargeisa in the early days of 1991, they had retreated to the Dilla area in Awdal. The SNM had given chase, and ultimately entered Borama briefly, taking prisoners and confiscating technicals and other equipment. In the process the SNM artillery had bombarded Dilla, and fighting there and in Borama resulted in casualties on both sides (Aw Ali Farah, 2007b; Saleebaan Afqarshe, 2007a).

At this stage, the Awdal’s Sheekh Ali Jowhar called for an end to the fighting. In response the SNM commander Haybe Omer Jama ordered his militia to withdraw to Goroyo ‘Awl, and Abdirahman Aw Ali Farah, an SNM leader and one of the few Awdal people members in the Movement, stepped up the process of negotiating a ceasefire with his clan’s people. Aw Ali’s next move was to meet a delegation of Awdal elders in Tulli (some kilometres from Dilla) and to agree a ceasefire. Talks then moved to Borama, where Aw Ali established a 21-person of Awdal’s Guurti with whom the SNM could negotiate and assumed the position of Governor of Awdal (Abdi Iidle Amaan in APD, 2007d; Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, lines 47-49).

A series of meetings in Borama culminated in reconciliation between the central people and Awdal people, with other sub-clans following suit after some delay10. Amongst the agreements reached at this stage was acceptance that some buildings and vehicles confiscated by each side during the conflict would be returned to their owners (Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, lines 101-108). On 8 February, Aw Ali met with the Awdal’s Guurti, and the Awdal’s delegation, led by Jama Rabile,formerly a minister in the Siyaad Barre government and a Awdal’s elder, travelled by ICRC plane to Berbera (Saleebaan Afqarshe in APD, 2007a; Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, lines 158-160).

Berbera Conference (15th to 27th February 1991)
Following hard on the heels of this intensive series of peace-building meetings in the east and west in the first two weeks of February, delegations from all the clans of the Northern Regions converged on Berbera on 15 February for the first national conference, known as Shirka Walaalaynta Beelaha Waqooyiga (Brotherhood Meeting of Northern Clans). Berbera was chosen primarily because it was the largest town to have avoided destruction by Siyaad Barre’s forces (Saleebaan Afqarshe, 2007a). The conference collectively confirmed the ceasefire across the Northern Regions, and determined that there would be a second national conference in Burao, starting in April. Sool prisoners held by the SNM were also returned to the Sool people at this stage. The Berbera conference was not intended to reach any substantive decisions beyond confirming bilateral ceasefire agreements, but to set the stage for the Burao conference, at which specific details of the territory’s future governance were to be discussed.
Burao Conference (27th April to 4th June 1991)
This Burao conference, known as Shirweynaha Walaalaynta Beelaha Waqooyiga (Brotherhood Conference of Northern Clans), was intended to continue the process of confidence building amongst the northern clans and to discuss the future administration of the region. All the Northern clans participated on a voluntary basis (Duale, 2007b, line 41), and funding came primarily from the communities and diaspora of the Northern Regions (APD, 2004: 1), with women playing a substantial role in fundraising and logistical organisation (Shukri Hariir Ismail and others in APD, 2007e; Duale, 2007b).
The conference is now best known as the forum, at which the independence of Somaliland was declared, and that was indeed the meeting’s most far-reaching decision, though other important resolutions were also passed. The manner by which these decisions were reached is also edifying.

The SNM by this stage was clearly the victor in the Northern Regions, and by far the most powerful military organization. The primary decision-making body was therefore the SNM Central Committee (Duale, 2007b). However, as an extension of the SNM’s policy of reconciliation, leaders from each of the northern clans were invited to join a meeting of traditional leaders, timed to precede the Central Committee meeting. The eastern, western and central clans were each represented by ten elders (APD, 2004: 1).
This elders’ meeting was charged with considering options for presentation to the Central Committee of the SNM, and after some discussion, they submitted seven recommendations (Duale, 2007b). The Central Committee then met. They considered the elders’ resolutions, strengthened the wording of the one declaring Somaliland’s independence, added a seventh, and endorsed the package. The Chair of the SNM, Abdirahman ‘Tuur’, then publicly announced all of the resolutions to a crowd enthusiastically waiting to hear the declaration of independence. The Central Committee meeting then resumed, agreeing an interim (temporary) system of government and electing the office-holders.

1.1.3 PHASE 3 (June 1991–May 1993): Establishing Security and Government
Burao and Berbera Conflicts
Tensions were by this time mounting between erstwhile allies within the SNM. An underlying issue was the succession for the Presidency, to which Abdulrahman ‘Tuur’, as Chairman of the SNM, had been appointed in Burao. ‘Tuur’s’ mandate was due to expire in May 1992, and some of the central clans felt that it was their turn (Gilkes, 1992: 13). Also at issue was control of Berbera port, and the port duties collected there (ibid). ‘Tuur’ inflamed the situation by sacking a number of members of his government (primarily from a part of central clans), while his plans to draw clan militia together into a united national army were viewed with suspicion by many (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 8)14. The tension escalated into a week of fighting in Burao between two of the central clans militia in January. Then, in May, ‘Tuur’ ordered part of central clan units of the army to Berbera to prevent a renegade colonel, Abdullahi ‘Degaweine’, from entering the port city. Both being the central clans, one of them refused and ‘Tuur’ was forced to send another part of the central clans force instead. This was seen by the other parts of central clans as an invasion of the third part of the central clans, and inflamed the situation to breaking point (Gilkes, 1992: 13). Initially, Degaweine was keen to avoid direct confrontation, pulling back to Sheekh. However, when a minor dispute between two of the third part sub-clans resulted in the assassination of thier suldaan in August, he took advantage of their weakened position in Berbera and re-entered the city, also securing the road halfway to Hargeisa. As a result, the government was deprived of its primary source of income in the form of port duties, and opposition to ‘Tuur’s’ administration had grown to encompass groups from a diverse array of clans (Gilkes, 1992: 13-14).
It is important to note that much of the conflict occurred within the SNM, between clan-affiliated militia factions, but that this frequently did not translate into popular clan-based support for these militia groups (Rashid Gadhweyne and Yusuf Sha’iir in APD, 2007b). ‘Tuur’s’ Minister of Education, Abdirahman Aw Ali, and a multi-clan collection of five cabinet colleagues resigned from the government in protest at the escalating crisis (Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, lines 245-251), and conflicts within the third part of central clan grew more heated. By September, Degaweine was threatening to march on Hargeisa, and the government’s control had become clearly tenuous. Lootings, shootings and petty violence had become
Frequent in Hargeisa and it was clear that the situation would soon come to a head (Gilkes, 1992: 14).

In response to the situation, a peace committee known as Kulanka (meaning simply ‘the meeting’) was convened in October, 1992 in Berbera. The group was comprised of 30 individuals, selected in equal numbers from the Government and opposition groups. The Kulanka agreed that Berbera’s port, airport and fuel storage depots should be placed under government control. However, this agreement was rejected by some of central people leaders in Berbera, who argued that all public facilities in the country, including Hargeisa Airport, which was controlled by one clan of the third part of central people clans should similarly come under the control of the Government (WSP-International, 2005: 62). The Awdal’s Guurti offered to mediate between the factions, in support of the one part of the central clan position that all clans should handover public facilities to the government. Their initiative was accepted by all the parties to Kulanka.

This was the second time in living memory (the first having been in the 1950s) that a group of Awdal people had mediated in a dispute between Central clans (Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, lines 281-282). It reflected the work of individuals within the Awdal people, and in particular that of Abdirahman Aw Ali, to utilise the relative neutrality imparted by their status as non-central clans to further reconciliation between Northern clans (Aw Ali Farah, 2007a; WSPInternational,2005: 62). Also, in October, and after much initial resistance, the government agreed that 750 UNOSOM troops would be placed in Berbera and at Hargeisa airport; some believe the government was persuaded that this might lead to international recognition (Gilkes, 1992: 13-14). The Kulanka agreement and the promise of UN troops helped to calm the situation, assisted by preparations for another reconciliation conference in the town of Sheekh.
Sheekh Conference (23rd October to 8th November 1992)
As with the series of conferences that preceded and set the scene for the Burao conference, the conference in Sheekh, which was known as Tawfiiq (or ‘best decision’), continued the string of meetings that would eventually culminate in another major national conference in Borama. The Kulanka had, with the mediation of the Awdal people, agreed a ceasefire between two parts of central clans. The Sheekh conference was intended to consolidate that peace and to assemble a national Guurti consisting of representatives from all the Northern clans (WSP-International, 2005: 62). At the invitation of the Awdal’s Guurti, Garaad Abdiqani sent a delegation of 20 of Sool people, led by Mohamed Ali Shire from Laas ‘Aanood to join delegations coming from Hargeisa and Borama (Garadka in APD, 2007b).
Once again, women played a significant but overlooked role in fundraising and providing logistical support.

A number of women were also pressing for a greater role in the meetings themselves. Shukri Harir Ismail, for example, recounts the effort she was involved in during the lead-up to the Borama conference (the meetings in Hargeisa and Sheekh being part of this), when a group of women organized protests at meeting venues. For one such protest, the group prepared a written statement of their position. Beginning their demonstration at dawn, they proceeded to walk around town, reading the statement, declaring:
* That they would not stop their protest until solid decisions had been made:
* That a letter be written to the UN stating that UNOSOM forces should not be deployed to Somaliland;
* That functional water reticulation systems be reactivated; and
* Promising to pay for food and clothes for a police force, if one were created
They also purchased microphones and speakers, which they placed inside the meeting room, enabling them to listen to proceedings, and then kept their promise to stand outside the venue until all issues had been dealt with (APD, 2007e).

Amongst the decisions taken, the initiative to bring the different clan Guurtis together to meet as a national council was one of the most significant achievements of the Tawfiiq conference. The following resolutions ending the immediate intra-central clans conflict was also agreed (WSP-International, 2005: 62):
1. Fixed assets taken during the war were to be returned to owners on both sides;
2. Militias were to be withdrawn from the battlefield;
3. All roads were to be cleared of armed militias and opened for traffic, especially the road between Burao and Berbera; and
4. Prisoners of war were to be exchanged.
While the Tawfiiq conference was successful in concluding the conflicts in Burao and Berbera, the peace throughout Somaliland remained fragile, so a decision was taken at Sheekh that a further national conference should take place in the first months of 1993.

At the conference in Burao, the SNM had mandated themselves a period of two years in which they would run the country, after which they would hand over power to a civilian administration (Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, lines 188-191; Siilaanyo, 2007a, line 124). That period was due to expire in May 1993, thus also warranting a further conference in which to make the momentous decision on how that transfer would take place. The situation was compounded by failure in 1992 to hold either of the two Central Committee meetings required annually by the SNM Constitution. Consequently the expiry of Tuur’s mandate as President Midway through the year was not addressed. Ignoring the constitutional difficulties that this created, ‘Tuur’ unilaterally formed a new government in early December; a move that was not popular, particularly amongst the newly instituted national Guurti (Drysdale, 1994: 142-143).
Borama Conference (January to May 1993)
The national Guurti, led by Sheekh Ibrahim Sheekh Yusuf Sheekh Madar and numbering 150 individuals from all the northern clans, were keen for the Borama conference to also include a cross-section of delegates from all the main Northern clans. In the end, 500 people attended. The UN supplied some air transport, but no financial or other support, with the majority of the funds for the conference being contributed by Somalilanders themselves (Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, lines 418-421; Bradbury, 1997; Drysdale, 1994: 143). Some minority clans were not represented (WSP-International, 2005:64), but it was notable that a small delegation of women (17 in total from a variety of clans) did attend. That group reiterated their position on UNOSOM as stated in the lead-up meetings, supported the formation of the national Guurti, and demanded a greater role for women in future conferences (Anab Omer Ileeye in APD, 2007e).

The Borama conference debated a wide range of topics, agreeing a security framework or ‘peace charter’ and a national constitutional structure (Drysdale, 1994: 143). It was agreed that a system of executive president would be retained, with a vice president and the power to appoint ministers. A bicameral parliament was to be formed, consisting of the 150 voting members of the conference, split into an upper and lower house, each with 75 members, a system embodied in the National Charter (WSP-International, 2005: 63). Proceedings then moved to the election of President and Vice President, with Mohamed Ibrahim Egal winning out over Omar Arteh15 and Abdirahman ‘Tuur’ to become President, while Abdirahman Aw Ali secured the post of Vice President. Both of Egal’s rivals for the presidency vowed to support his election (Drysdale, 1994: 143-145).

The Borama conference is widely seen as having been one of the most successful of the major national conferences, and is compared favorably with the later Hargeisa conference. The reasoning is that there was no single party strong enough to wield undue political influence (WSP-International, 2005: 80). Whatever the reason, this national meeting can reasonably be seen to have achieved a great deal, including the ever contentious task of making the transition from a military government to a civilian one. In another notable milestone, the pressure applied by women’s groups for a greater involvement in the political process did result in the appointment of Somaliland’s first female Minister, Deeqa Ali Joog of Sanaag (Shukri Harir Ismail in APD, 2007e).

Sanaag Conferences (February 1991 – October 1993)
While the various conflicts, meetings and conferences described thus far were taking place, a parallel process was occurring in Sanaag region. The reconciliation initiatives in this area were unquestionably of great importance in the wider Somaliland context. A total of fifteen of small conferences culminated in a grand conference in Erigavo between August and October 1993. The following is a list of the conferences, with abbreviated comment on the outcome of each:
1. December 1990 in El Qohle: ceasefire and share of grazing land agreed between eastern sanaag people and one of the central clans
2. February 1991 in Yagoori: military ceasefire agreed between Sool people and one of the central clans.
3. 18th June 1991 in Yubbe (Yubbe1): ceasefire agreed between eastern sanaag people and one of the central clans.
4. 6th-9th October 1991 in Yubbe (Yubbe 2): consolidation of ceasefire, and regulation of trade and agreement on borders between eastern sanaag people and one of the central clans.
5. 30th October 1991 in Oog: regulation of trade and prisoner exchange between two parts of central clans and Sool people.
6. 10th May 1992 in El Qohle: agreement to strengthen security, regulate trade and enhance intercommunity movement between between eastern sanaag people and one of the central clans.
7. 1st-22nd June 1992 in Kulaal/Awrboogeys: final agreements on peace between one part of the central clans and Sool people.
8. 16th-21st August 1992 in Shimbiraale (Isuboodo): cessation of hostilities, return of looted property and agreement for each clan to assume responsibility for security in own area between two parts of central clans and Sool people.
9. 1st September 1992 in Hudun: livestock exchange agreed between one part of the central clans and Sool people (SDRA/MCC, 1994).
10. 5th-9th November 1992 in Jiidali: agreement that each clan responsible for security in own area and selection of disputes resolution committee between eastern sanaag people and one of the central clans.
11. 23rd November – 1st December 1992 in Garadag (Jeegaan): agreement to convene a grand conference in Erigavo between Sanaag clans.
12. 2nd January – 5th February 1993 in Dararweyne: cessation of hostilities and agreement by one part of the central clans to host Erigavo conference, between one part of the central clan and Sool people (SDRA/MCC, 1994).
13. June 1993 in Yubbe (Yubbe3): confirmation that Habar Yoonis would host Erigavo conference and invite all Sanaag clans, between eastern sanaag clans and one part of the central clans.
14. June 1993 in Fiqifuliye: informal meeting to confirm invitation to Erigavo conference, between one part of central clans and Sool people.
15. June 1993 in El Afweyn: agreement that both clans would settle final difference in Erigavo, between two central people clans.
16. 19th August – 11th November 1993 in Erigavo: Sanaag Grand Peace and Reconciliation conference. A Peace Charter was agreed for the Sanaag Region, plus an administrative statute.
All Sanaag clans were involved: eastern, western and central people clans as with other conferences, funding was primarily raised from the Somaliland community, with women playing a significant role in mobilizing resources, and providing food and other urgent support. The role women played in mediating between clans was also particularly pronounced, though not unique, in Sanaag. This reflected the mix of clans in the area, and the high degree of inter-marriage that had traditionally occurred between them. By straddling clan lines, women were able to provide message courier services across the front-line when fighting took place, and on occasion found them quite literally forming a barrier between warring factions. A number lost their lives in these activities (Baar Saeed Faarah in APD, 2007e).

1.1.4 PHASE 4 (June 1993 – February 1997): Institution-Building
Hargeisa and Burao Conflicts
The Egal administration was initially able to proceed on the basis of the broad support he enjoyed in the wake of the Borama conference (WSP-International, 2005: 65). However, part of the central clans were dissatisfied with having lost both the presidency and a number of positions in the administration. In July 1993, they held a clan conference in Burao, called Libaan I, at which they announced the cessation of their cooperation with Egal’s government. The following year, Libaan II declared the administration ‘illegitimate’. Following this declaration, ‘Tuur’ led a delegation of Garhajis17 to Mogadishu, declaring support for Aydiid and a united Somalia (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 9; WSP-International, 2005: 65). While not all of them supported these actions – indeed, the ‘Hargeisa southeastern clan never endorsed the Libaan declarations (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 13) – they nevertheless contributed significantly to the mounting discord. By November 1994, tensions had again reached intolerable levels, and fighting broke out in Waqooyi Galbeed region, around Hargeisa, when the government attempted to enforce the Sheekh and Borama agreements, and take control of Hargeisa airport. A number of those people’s elders worked with others to reconcile the parties, but they proved unable to control their militia (Aw Ali Farah, 2007a, lines 437-447; Bryden and Farah, 1996: 9; WSP-International, 2005: 66).

In March 1995, fighting erupted again in Burao between one part of central clans and the government militias. Although the conflict failed to fully engage the constituencies on either side, the fighting was fierce enough to force large portions of the populations of the cities affected to flee (WSP-International, 2005: 66). While the fighting was clearly an irritant to the government, the failure of their militia to gain unified support from even their own disparate components, let alone from other clans effectively prevented, the conflict from threatening the government itself (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 11). The low intensity of the fighting enabled the dispute to drag on for a protracted period, and also made resolution more difficult; in the end, the conflict which had started in November 1994 was not fully concluded until July 1996, while a full settlement did not occur until the Hargeisa conference in early 1997.

Somaliland Peace Committee (1995 to 1997)
The Guurti, who had achieved so much in Sheekh and Borama, proved unable to end the Burao/Hargeisa war, primarily because the tuur’s clan elders, although negotiating in good faith, were unable to gain the acquiescence of their own militia (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 11). In fact a number of groups attempted to intervene in the process, and at best, each achieved modest success. One such group assumed the name ‘Somaliland Peace Committee’, and their story is edifying in part because it shows the efforts put into many Somaliland peace processes by groups or individuals who don’t necessarily enjoy the success they were hoping for. Case studies, including as those upon which this report is based, can tend to give the impression that the sometimes heroic efforts of individuals or groups lead, with the logical certainty imparted only by hindsight, to successful outcomes. In fact, unsuccessful initiatives have long been as much a part of the Somaliland peace process; often enough at great personal cost to those involved.

In March and April of 1995, a US-based individual originally from Hargeisa, Dr Hussein Bulhan, had visited Hargeisa, Djibouti and Addis Ababa to ascertain support for a peace initiative. His final meetings in Addis Ababa had resulted in the establishment of a group called the ‘Peace Committee for Somaliland’, which based itself in Addis Ababa, seeking financial and other support from the Ethiopian government, UNDP’s Ethiopia Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (UNDP-EUE) and others (Bryden and Farah, 1996; Peace-Committee, 1995). Apart from limited funds, financial support was not forthcoming, so the group largely financed their own activities, with the support of Somalilanders in Somaliland and the Diaspora (Peace-Committee, 1997), although some non-financial support was also provided by international agencies (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 17). As ever, women were frequently central to fundraising efforts, and also cared for and fed the injured, and played as active a role as possible in encouraging peace efforts18 (APD, 2007e).

The Committee began, in late 1995, with preliminary consultations with Somalilanders in Addis Ababa (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 19), then divided the facilitation group into two negotiation teams; one to work with each side (Peace-Committee, 1997: 1, point 3). These teams, recruited prominent individuals to the cause in the form of a ‘peace caravan’, making contact with the opposing parties and holding preliminary discussions in the early months of 1996 (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 20; Peace-Committee, 1997: 1, point 3). Meanwhile, in September, just as the reconciliation process was getting underway, Egal’s term in office expired. With elections a difficult proposition in view of the conflict, parliament agreed to extend the term of his government by one and a half years (WSP-International, 2005: 66). Initially, the Peace Committee’s focus was on those involved in the fighting in the Hargeisa area, where they believed the issues involved might be easier to resolve (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 20). Having gathered support from a wide array of sources, the Committee was able to organize a meeting with much of the Hargeisa community in May 1996. The ‘Hargeisa southeastern clan did not attend, but progress was nevertheless possible, with the meeting agreeing the text of a letter to them that recognized their grievances and stating their readiness to attend reconciliation meeting. The Committee delivered the letter to the ‘Iidagalle who signaled their acceptance. Camp Abokor was selected as the site of that meeting, which was scheduled to commence on 3 June 1996.

The meeting agreed that all parties would “… honor and observe the peace process until 15 August when the concluding peace conference would take place in Baligubadle …” (Peace-Committee, 1997: 3-4, section A). In the event, the Baligubadle conference never took place, both because the Peace Committee’s funds were exhausted by the expensive process of organizing the Camp Abokor, and because Egal continued to vacillate in his support for the peace process, issuing a letter two days before the scheduled commencement, demanding that the Committee suspend their activities and leave the process to the government (Peace-Committee, 1997: 3-4, section A). Egal’s letter was only one instance in a series of flip-flops with regard to the Committee’s efforts to facilitate reconciliation. As early as November 1995, the Minister of Foreign Affairs had issued a press release critical of the ‘Peace Proposal’ that had been drawn up by the Committee, yet this was followed shortly after by a reception hosted by Egal to welcome the Committee. Later the government established a committee headed by Abdirahman Aw Ali to work with the Committee, and provided US$5,000 towards their activities. The rationale behind this erratic approach is difficult to ascertain, but one explanation is simply that the government did not know how to react to an external mediation initiative (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 21-22).

Although the Baligubadle conference failed to proceed, a parallel reconciliation process had developed momentum in Togdheer (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 20). A preliminary round of discussions culminated in a meeting in July in Waraabeeye village which set the ground for a full conference later in the same month in Duruqsi. The agreement reached at Duruqsi was the most comprehensive in the process to date, resulting in a cessation of fighting in Burao, and the creation of a representative administration in Togdheer (Bryden and Farah, 1996: 20-21).

While these negotiations had been taking place, the national Guurti had announced that a ‘General Congress of Somaliland Communities’ would take place in Hargeisa in October 1996. The announcement received a mixed reaction, with many of those involved in the Hargeisa and Burao conflicts concerned that the timing and government organization might inflame the situation. The Peace Committee asked the government to delay the commencement and made a number of recommendations for changes in the conference. Some of these suggestions were accepted, but the date was not shifted (Peace-Committee, 1997: 2, points 7-8). For their part, the third part of the central clan leaders stated that they would not attend the conference.
In many ways, the Peace Committee had failed to achieve the breakthrough they were pursuing, although their efforts were nevertheless significant. The meeting in Duruqsi did generate a significant agreement, and some feel that this was the foundation on which the final stages in the peace process could take place. However, the process itself was not complete as the third part remained alienated. Against this backdrop, a final conference, designed to conclude reconciliation between the two central clans was organized in Beer for September 1996, with one of them initiating the invitation and agreeing to host the meeting (Siilaanyo, 2007b).

Beer Conference (September 1996)
After much discussion, the Beer gathering ended with a decision that a delegation involving both parties would be sent to the Hargeisa conference. However, it was also agreed that a statement be sent expressing strong reservations about the legitimacy of the conference, and calling on the government to allow the conclusion of reconciliation conferences throughout the country before attempting to map a constitutional programme (Peace-Committee, 1997: 5-6, section B). Prisoners were also exchanged at Beer, and it was this one of the central clan-hosted meeting that completed a peace process that had, by then, involved a great deal of time, effort and perseverance on the part of a wide variety of different groups and individuals. Amongst other accommodations, the agreement of the third part of the central clan to attend the Hargeisa conference represented the conclusion to a difficult period (Siilaanyo, 2007b).

Hargeisa Peace and Reconciliation Conference (October 1996 – February 1997)
In contrast to previous occasions, including the obvious precedent, 1993’s national Borama conference, and the Hargeisa event was funded by the government, and more than twice the number of delegates attended (315 in total). That total was made up of the 150 members of parliament’s two houses, plus an additional165, representing all the Northern clans, for the first time including minority clans and female observers (WSP-International, 2005: 67 & 120n). Organization was, once again, along beel (clan or community) lines, with numbers of delegates apportioned amongst clans using a formula adjusted from Borama to include minorities, and to increase representation of the third part of the central clan (WSP-International, 2005: 67 & 120n).

However, dissatisfaction remained widespread, with many echoing the issues raised by the third part of the central clan and complaining of government manipulation (WSP-International, 2005: 67). Having had to deal with government confusion over their own role, the Peace Committee, for example, found it difficult to present an image of neutrality, noting in one report, prepared during the conference, that:
“The political atmosphere is highly charged as factionalism and clan politicking (often funded by Egal) runs rampant. There is serious inter-clan and inter-regional polarization as the political alignment becomes clear: Egal (with all the public resources at his disposal) against all the other candidates … The situation is fraught with danger and the potential for violence is high, especially if Egal buys his way back to power.” (Peace-Committee, 1997: 6)

Whether for that reason or not, Egal was reinstated as President and Dahir Rayale Kahin was elected as vice president for a term of five years. The conference also appointed 164 members to the House of Representatives and Guurti for terms of five and six years respectively, and replaced the National Charter with a provisional constitution introducing multi-party democracy and subject to approval by a referendum (WSP-International, 2005: 67).
1.3 lessons learned government can be established on ice bases of traditional home-grown peace-building manly intervened by Guurti
The process of drawing ‘lessons’ from any process such as the one under discussion must be done with care. On the one hand, no interpretation or analysis of events can hope to escape a degree of subjectivity, no matter how hard the authors might try. On the other hand, were a given hypothesis widely accepted, it would run the risk of being adopted as some kind of blueprint for similar processes elsewhere, belying the huge degree of local specificity that must exist in any given situation. However, it is perhaps useful to consider some of the patterns that emerge from such an analysis. With cautious interpretation, there are doubtless lessons that can be learned and transferred in one form or another.

In the process of researching this report, a total of 39 peace and reconciliation conferences have been identified between February 1990 and February 1997. Of these, four were national in scope, of which two (Berbera and Burao, both in 1991) were concerned primarily with establishing a cessation of hostilities, while another two (Borama in 1993 and Hargeisa in 1997) were concerned with establishing the basis for future government. Another conference (Erigavo in 1993) involved all the clans in a specific region (Sanaag), while the remaining 34 involved two or more sub-clans or clans in resolving more localized issues.

A strong pattern is evident from this: clusters of localized conferences prepared the ground for the five national and regional meetings. In this manner, sub-clans were to resolve immediate disputes and agree the terms of future discussion before moving on to tackle issues of ongoing governance and national reconciliation. There can be little doubt also that the SNM policy of reconciliation between Northern clans was a vital factor in enabling the process to begin in reasonably good faith. An analysis of the actors taking part in the process is less consistent, but equally interesting. Traditional leaders often played a vital part (the meetings in Sheekh and Borama in 1992 and 1993 being excellent examples). However, there were also times when customary leadership failed to achieve significant headway (the Hargeisa/Burao conflicts of 1994-96 being the most obvious example). In such instances, the group with the greatest military (for example, the SNM in Berbera and Burao in 1991) or political strength (the Egal government in 1997) can contribute to a productive conference.

On other occasions, local businesspeople or groups of concerned Diaspora or citizens prove successful at initiating peace talks, while in other instances the initiative came from a clan or sub-clan. By and large, whoever takes the lead, some combination of these groups is needed in support. It is also vital to recognize the role played by women in efforts to negotiate or facilitate peace. That role has taken many forms, but the degree to which the women spoken to thus far in this research insist on their role in pushing overwhelmingly male-dominated groups to work for peace cannot be ignored. The tactics they have adopted are frequently innovative and have often resulted in clear changes in decision or direction. It is also worth noting the enormous amount of effort and sacrifice that has driven the process forward. A good deal of that commitment has not resulted directly in successful outcomes, yet it is arguably one of the most important factors in success that many groups are looking for ways of achieving reconciliation.

Perhaps in itself, this is a reflection of a society that is broadly (though obviously never solely) committed to finding peaceful means of resolving conflict. In terms of funding, the vast bulk of the money required in Somaliland’s reconciliation meetings was sourced from Somalilanders – either in the Diaspora or within the country. In the case of the 1997 Hargeisa conference, funding was provided by the Government, but in all other cases, all but small contributions were raised from private sources. Again, the role played by women in raising funds for conferences should also be noted. Women’s groups are frequently central to fundraising in general, so the same pattern might be observed in raising cash to fuel conflict as well. Either way, the part women play in resource mobilization is clearly significant. Given these contextual conditions, it is quite reasonable to describe the Somaliland process as largely ‘homegrown’ domestically or Diaspora-financed and organized as a result of initiatives taken by a diverse range of actors, drawing on broad support. Perhaps the most critical result of this was that the process was allowed to occur ‘organically’, with little external pressure to meet deadlines. Conversely, few people profited materially from the process beyond the benefits accruing from stability itself, meaning that there was little incentive for anyone to prolong the process.

There can never be any doubt that issues remain to be resolved, although whether this is a fact of an ever evolving social and political environment, or a failing of the peace process, is open to debate. Somaliland and Puntland still dispute the status of Sool region, and while military advances by Somaliland in 2007 are significant, it remains to be seen whether the dispute itself has been resolved through military means. The Sool people of the area were amongst the earliest of the SNM’s northern opponents to make peace, yet they have drifted from the process, with many becoming disillusioned with the reality of Somaliland. Perhaps, rather than a failing of the reconciliation process, this simply reflects the historic desire of the Sool people to retain their independence. Unresolved issues also remain in Sanaag, where Puntland and Somaliland advance conflicting territorial claims. Again, though, it is hard to characterize this simply as a failing of the peace process. Perhaps the major problem is that the vigorous process of peace-building that characterized the period between 1990 and 1997 seems to have stalled somewhat in more recent years. The establishment a functioning system of government has seen disputes politicized in an environment where the distinction between clan, party and government is sufficient to draw the lines of conflict, but as yet unable to provide the platform for its resolution. So let us look at some theoretical perspectives of dispute settlement.

1.4 Theoretical perspectives of dispute settlement
1.4.1 Somali customary law (Xeer)[ ]
The Somali customary laws through not recorded in a written form were as effective as the written laws of other nations. There were provisions for everything. The laws were made by the community elders and leaders and were enacted at a general assembly in which the people inhabiting the district or the region participated.
The general assembly was usually held in the villages, wells or water points. Each law was named after the locality in which it was approved. As an example we have the law of “ Hareri Hoosle” or the law of “Cakaaro” or the law of “Gaddoondhawe”, Hareri Hoosle, Cakaaro and Gaddoodhawe being well known Somali localities.
In the past Somali used to have special by-laws or rules for every specific community. Farmers, camel herders, goat herders, hunters, town dwellers, etc had their own particular rules. There were such rules such as:
• Town’s people rules
• Farmers rules
• Merchants rules
• Nomadic people rules
• Youngsters rules
• Camel herders rules
• Cattle herders rules
• Goat herders rules
• Hunters and forest people rules
• Horsemen rules
• War rulers
• Social rulers
• Marriage and family rules
• Poetry and oratory rules
• Messengers of peace rulers
All these rules were applied for the purpose for which they were enacted. At same time all laws were coming under two sections; Blood (penal) and Custom (civil).
a) Blood (penal) law is the law applied to a person when he commits such crimes such as murder, theft, robbery, rape etc.
b) Custom (civil) law is the law applied when two persons have a dispute over land, debt etc.
1.4.2 Community Relations theory [ ]

 Assumes that conflict is caused by ongoing division, mistrust and hostility between different groups within a community.
 Ways of addressing such conflict:
1. To improve communication and understanding between conflicting parts
2. To promote greater tolerance and acceptance of diversity in the community.

1.4.3 Principle Negotiation Theory

 Assumes that conflict is caused by incompatible positions and a zero-sum view of conflict being adopted by the conflicting parties.
 Ways of dealing in such conflict:
1. To assist conflicting parties to separate personalities from problems and issues, and to be able to negotiate on the basis of their interest rather than fixed positions,
2. To facilitate agreements that offer mutual gain for both/all parties.

1.4.4 Human Need Theory

 Assumes that deep-rooted conflict caused by unmet or frustrated basic human needs physical, psychological and social, security, identity, recognition, participation and autonomy are often cited.
 Possible ways of dealing for such conflicts:
1. To assist conflicting parts to identified and share their unmet needs, and generate options for meeting those needs,
 For the parties to reach agreements that meet the basic human needs of all the sides.
1.4.5 Identity Theory

 It assumes that conflict is caused by feelings of threatened identity, often rooted in unresolved past loss and suffering.
 The possible ways of dealing for such conflicts are:
2. Through facilitated workshops and dialogue for conflicting parts to identify threats and fears they each feel and to build understanding and reconciliation between themselves,
3. To jointly reach agreement that recognizes the core identity needs of all parties.

1.4.6 Intercultural Miscommunication Theory

 Assumes that conflict is caused by incompatibilities between different cultural communication styles.
 The possible ways of dealing for such type of conflict are:
1. To increase the conflicting parties knowledge of each other’s culture,
2. To weaken negative stereotypes they have of each other,
3. Ultimately, to enhance effective intercultural communications.

1.4.7 Conflict Transformation Theory

 Assumes that conflict is caused by real problems of inequality and injustice expressed by competing social, cultural and economic framework.
 The solutions could be:
1. To change structures and frameworks that cause inequality and injustice, including economic redistribution,
2. To improve longer-term relationships and attitudes among the conflicting parties
3. To develop processes and systems that promotes empowerment, justice, peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and recognition.

1.5 Why Somaliland peace-building processes become successful in comparison with Somalia?
1.5.1 Somaliland indigenous ADR succeeded to solve the root causes of conflict [ ]
In general, transitional justice from “below” is more important and effective than from “above,” because of its inclusive methodology. Community, civil society, and other non-sate actors have a great role to play in transitional justice from below. Transitional justice from below gives an opportunity to those affected by the conflict to get relief and a sense of justice. As Kieran McEvoy and Lorna McGregor explains,
The contributors share a broad interest in the out-workings of transitional justice ‘on the ground’ in the communities or organizations which have been directly affected by violent conflict. In such settings, it is frequently victims and survivor groups, community and civil society organizations, human rights non-governmental organizations, church bodies and others that have been the engine of change. The term ‘from below’ is increasingly used to denote a ‘resistant’ or ‘mobilizing’ character to the actions of community, civil society and other non-state actors in their opposition to powerful hegemonic political, social or economic forces.[5]
Transitional justice from above is the contrast of the ‘from below’ approach, because it does not put into consideration the needs of the actual victims of the atrocities; instead they are ignored and nothing is done for them. Civil society, community organizations, and other non-state actors do not have a role to play in transitional justice from above, because they are not consulted and left completely out of the process. Transitional justice from above is imposed by the government or brokered international and regional organizations like the UN and AU.
The strategic methodology which Somaliland people follow for their transitional justice from below includes the following factors:
a) Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostility Called by Clan Elders and Civil Society:
In 1991, when the military dictatorship collapsed, the clan and sub-clan elders devised a way to escape from Civil War. Some of the clans were supporters for the military regime of the Somali government and other tribes were supporters of the Somali National Movement (SNM),[6] which were against Siyaad Barre’s[7] government and finally ousted.
In that gloomy situation, the clan elders of both sides called a ceasefire between the two sides and encouraged them not to retaliate, especially, those who were in the victorious position, the Somali National Movement (SNM). Fortunately, they accepted and conceded to the request of the clan elders because of the influence and leadership which clan elders have among the community. As the War-Torn Societies Project (WSP) International, Somali Programme explains, “Elders have always played a central role in Somaliland society. But in the aftermath of the civil war, elders have ventured into the political sphere in an unprecedented way.”[8]
b) Negotiation, Mediation and Arbitration process
After the ceasefire had been reached and retaliation and further atrocities had been prevented, immediately a negotiation, mediation and arbitration process was launched by the clan and sub-clan elders to transfer into lasting peace. As mentioned earlier, negotiation, mediation and arbitration and ADR mechanisms are easy for the Somaliland people to initiate because it is part of their culture; so, they did not need any external assistance or interference. One of the main reasons local and indigenous negotiation and other forms of Somaliland ADR succeeded is the lack of interference of the internal affairs of the Somaliland people, neither by neighboring countries or the international community. If external influence had been part of the process, the outcome may have been negatively affected, because external forces have their own agenda and interest. As Bradbury explains:
In Somaliland, state formation has been both a reactive and proactive process in response to internal and external events. It has involved political negotiation between numerous ‘stakeholders’ with varied interests and agendas, including SMN (Somali National Movement), politicians, elders, business people, the Diaspora, women, pastoralists, and neighboring states. In the first decade these negotiations occurred in formal peace conferences, parliamentary debates and other public fora, making for a highly participatory form of politics.[9]
c) Clan and Sub-Clan Conferences as a Conflict Resolution Tool
After the negotiation and other forms of Somaliland’s ADR succeeded, the clan elders and other stake-holders initiated regional conferences which were designed to repair the damage done during the hostility and civil wars. Those conferences [10] started in the regional and sub-regional levels because in each region there are different tribes who live together; so, unless the hostilities among them are ceased, a national conference cannot be held. WSP explains, “Cessation of hostilities in the immediate aftermath of the SMN victory was advanced by the relatively low level of animosity between the Isaaq[11] and other communities.”[12]
Finally, when the clan and sub-clan elders completed the regional and sub-regional conferences and ceasefire was implemented, a national conference was called to be held in Burco. As WSP explains, “a meeting convened by the SNM at the port of Berbera[13] established a formal cease-fire and fixed a date for a conference of the Guurti to be held in Burco[14] two months later.”[15]
d) Unconditional Amnesty
During the Burco conference, unconditional Amnesty was granted to those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the conflict and civil wars of 1981-1991; especially government and military officials who were present during the process of reconciliation. During the conference, it was declared that peace and co-existence were to be embraced.
As you can see from the above discussion, the transitional justice of Somaliland started from below, which means from the sub-clan and sub-regional level. When the transitional justice process was finished, the hostilities among the different clans and tribes in each region reached out in the national reconciliation conference and finally agreed to bury the past and continue ahead to build one nation. As WSP explains:
More than a dozen Garaado, Suldaano and Ugaasyo (titled traditional leaders) representing the Isaaq, the Harti[16], and the Dir[17] Clans, together with their delegations, converged upon Burco. They were joined at the conference by participants from other sectors of society, including artistic, intellectuals, and business people (who provided most of the financing) as well as delegates from the Diaspora.[18]
e) Final Outcome
The final outcomes of the Burco conference included general amnesty among the different tribes and clans of Somaliland, reconciliation between warring parties, the declaration of the Somaliland Republic as separate state independent from other parties of the Somalia, and the armed Somali National Movement (SNM) was given rule of the country for the two years of the transitional period. As WSP explains,
The conclusions of their conference (below) were presented to a subsequent meeting of the SNM Central Committee and endorsed:
• Recompilation of the warring parties to the conflict;
• Declaration of the Somaliland Republic on 18 May 1991
• A Transitional two-years rule by the SNM, and the accommodation of the non-Isaaq communities in the government structure during this period
• Initiation of a separate reconciliation process for the Sanaag[19] region.[20]
As far as reparation for the victims of the war, it was agreed that the different clans and tribes use their customary way to give reparations for victims and their families. During the reparation process tribal elders and leaders represented their different clans and sub-clans, because in the tribal society the leader of the tribe stands and represents the interests of the tribe at large. The reconciliation process enjoyed legitimacy from below, because the individual members took part in the process through the tribal elders and leaders. However, the victims of war may have been marginalized because individual cases were not discussed during the reconciliation process, but instead general reparations were promised by the different tribes.
f) Implementation of the final outcome
When the Burco conference concluded, the outcomes of the conference were implemented by all sides of the conference and till today, the peace and stability of Somaliland is growing and state of Somaliland is becoming viable. WSP explains,
Although the agreement reached at Burco remains the cornerstone of the peace that prevails in Somaliland today, it by no means settled all grievances, nor resolved all differences; it simply terminated active hostilities and created a common political framework. It was then followed by diverse reconciliation initiatives (Farah and Lewis: 1993) that have continued, almost without pause, ever since.[21]
1.5.2 Somalia indigenous ADR failed to solve the root causes of conflict [ ]
Despite the fact that “Somaliland peace-building process and reconciliation efforts have had positive outcomes” Somalia have frequently failed to take root in the long-term hostilities and animosities.[7] So far, in Somalia none of the efforts could reconcile the warring factions, and thus could not end the anarchy in the country. The outcome of every peace effort has generated new and worse conflicts. Therefore, the important questions are:
• Why did all effort in Somalia not bring peace and stability?
• Was the approach used in the previous Somali peace efforts relevant to the realities in Somalia?
Roy Licklinder in his article “Obstacles to Peace Settlements” argued that the reason why peace effortsin civil wars or violence, fail is because they do not solve the problems that caused the civil wars.[8] This argument is relevant to the Somali peace efforts. The main causes of the Somali civil war were unequal power distribution, poor sharing of resources among different Somali clans, negative clanism, marginalization of intellectuals, misrepresentation in the government, and negative external influences. In most previous peace efforts, the top-down approach was used to reconcile the divided Somali society by addressing the causes of the conflict. Paradoxically, a top-down approach could not properly address the aforementioned factors, which contributed greatly to the failure of those peace efforts.
The scope of this paper is, therefore, to propose a bottom-up approach to solve the conflict in Somalia. The paper argues that the best strategy that could solve the problems related to power, resource-sharing, participation, and representation of all communities would be adopting a pure bottom-up approach.
The Failure of the Top-Down Approach
According to Somali scholar Abdullah A. Mohamoud, “through [a] top-down approach, twelve national reconciliation conferences were convened with the goal of restoring a central authority in Somalia, yet no success was achieved. The immediate reason for this was that the faction leaders and warlords who signed the peace deal, and agreed to form a national government, frequently failed to honor their promises.”[9] The main reason that these warlords failed to fulfill their promises is that they did not trust each other; and they feared being bypassed and losing their economic and political power in the national government.
There is a great social divide that has been created by the spilling of blood, accompanied by bad memories of the devastation in Somalia. Characterizing contemporary conflicts like that of Somalia, John Paul Lederach says, “The conflicts are characterized by deep-rooted, intense animosity; fear; and severe stereotyping.” Given this reality, Somali people are very alert and sensitive to any kind of authority that is imposed from outside their country or from above through a top-down approach to peace-building. They are afraid of a clan-lord and warlord-dominated central government, which might repeat the ugly events of the civil-war period. Considering this deep mistrust and suspicion between Somali clans, it cannot be surprising that adopting a centralized approach has been problematic in Somalia.
The “Quasi-Bottom-Up Approach”
A quasi-bottom-up approach has been tried in some of the previous peace efforts in Somalia. I call the approach used in these peace efforts a “quasi-bottom-up approach” because, in reality, the approach did not have the characteristics of bottom-up approach. First of all, the conferences were held outside of Somalia. Second, the participants were all warlords who have no Somali public support. Third, nothing was done to build local capacity, raise public awareness and lay ground inside Somalia for a successful outcome of the conferences.
During the UN-sponsored Addis Ababa Peace and Reconciliation Conference of 1993[11] and the later IGAD-led Peace and Reconciliation Conference of 2004, for example, a quasi-bottom-up approach was tried. In the Addis Ababa conference, the Transitional National Council was formed with the objective of establishing strong regional administrations before building a central government.[12] The approach was not successful because nothing was done to clear the ground for effective institutional and administrative apparatuses at regional and sub-regional levels. “The idea of the Addis agreement was a parallel top-down and bottom-up approach (track 1 and 2)”.[13] But in practice the top-down approach was the dominant one. From the beginning, the UN was pushing for “quick top-down solution with the warlords.”[14] In addition, when warlords like Aideed rejected the formation of regional administrations, the UN officially changed its approach and tried to form a central government by bringing all of the warlords together. Therefore, the quasi-bottom-up approach of the Addis Ababa conference did not work.
Similarly, in the IGAD-led conference of 2004, the Transitional Federal Government was formed with the aim of establishing a federal system composed of clan-based regional governments.[15] The formation of clan-based regional administrations was problematic because it was difficult to specify the boundaries of different clans. In addition, nothing was done to raise the local capacity, or to create a favorable ground for regional administrations. Members of the federal Assembly could not even agree about where to locate the seat of the federal government. The minister and the members of the federal assembly had no public support inside Somalia since all were self-appointed.[16] “Given all these factors, some Somali people have lost hope of a successful outcome for this peace process. They do not trust what they see as the network of warlords and their masterminds.”[17] Overall, the approaches previously used to try to establish a federal administration were considered as externally imposed, and were unable to serve the interests of Somalis.
The Potential of a True “Bottom-Up” Approach
If the top-down approach and quasi bottom-up approaches could not work, then, what approach might possibly solve the Somali problem? The simple answer is: a true bottom-up approach. A bottom-up approach is a people-centered approach that advocates peace from within the affected societies and requires changing hearts and minds of the local people to get them to work for peace and reconciliation whole-heartedly. A pure bottom-up approach requires developing institutions from the grassroots level, developing local capacity for self-government, raising public awareness, promoting representation of all Somali communities, and providing an ideal environment for the development of local administrative units as the basis for a decentralized government. When strong regional administrations are established, it will be easier to establish a federal government. The bottom-up approach is, according to Mohamoud:
“Basically an internal affair and a locally driven peace process. The dominant players are the local-level leadership, such as the traditional elders, religious leaders, locality and community leaders, local traders and [the] network of grass-roots civic associations such as women, intellectuals, etc. The local-level leadership initiated the reconciliation procedures as a gradual process and attempted to build the peace step by step.”[18]
Therefore, the bottom-up approach is establishing basic institutions and administrative apparatuses as a cornerstone for a future federal government starting from the local communities, and free from clan affiliations and the interference of warlords.
The Life and Peace Institute of Sweden and John Paul Lederach have contributed comprehensive approaches to peace building that could possibly be used in solving the Somali conflict. In his comprehensive transformation-oriented peace-building and conflict transformation approach, Lederach divides the society into three levels: top leadership (level 1), middle-range leadership (level 2) and grassroots leadership (level 3).[19] In divided societies like Somalia, Lederach advocates concentrating on indigenous actors within the country and not external actors. “The aim of Lederach’s peace-building approach is to identify representative individuals or groups in the middle range level and empower them by means of mediation and other peace-building measures. The role of external actors is limited to supporting the internal actors by means of empowerment.”[20] Basically, Lederach’s idea is that by empowering the middle-level leadership, it is easier to influence the bottom or the grassroots level, as well as the top-level leadership, to transform the society quickly.[21]
Slightly different from Lederach’s approach, the Life and Peace Institute (LPI) focuses on both middle-range and grassroots level leadership with more emphasis on the grassroots level in the conflict country. Basically, LPI’s approach is by “empowering these two levels sooner or later the entire society will be transformed by peaceful means.”[22] In this case, the peace-building process is both vertical and horizontal with more emphasis on people and affected communities.
Although focusing on the middle-range leadership is important, putting more emphasis on the grassroots level is very crucial in the case of Somalia. Given the reality that there have been no clear and legitimate leaders that have support in the middle and top-level, it might weaken the bottom-up approach to put more focus on the middle and top levels. The current government in Somalia is made up of former warlords who do not have full public support. The government has been brought to Mogadishu by external forces, and it has been exerting itself using external forces. As history shows, however, a forcefully imposed government cannot be sustained in Somalia. In the middle-range level, there are no strong cross-religious or regional organizations, NGOs or other influential groups that could influence the top and bottom levels at the same time. Even most Somali intellectuals who could play a great role in the middle-range leadership live in the Diaspora. In addition, Somali society has been divided along clan and sub-clan lines and their allegiance is to the clan leaders or elders at the village level, not to intellectuals or politicians who live in the Diaspora. Therefore, a bottom-up approach with more emphasis on the grassroots level is very consistent with the realities in Somalia.
The Bottom-Up Approach as a Multi-Dimensional Process
In the bottom-up approach, the peace process should not be conceived of as a single process. In previous peace processes, efforts were made to establish a government for Somalia, but little had been done to raise the awareness of the people, to identify the social, cultural and political constraints for the process or to prepare the Somali society to accept the government. For lasting peace in Somalia, developing a local capacity and basic institutions is very crucial. Strategic accessibility and the mobilization of those localities and communities,[23] and sections of society like elders and women, who are willing to be involved in the process, are also crucial steps in attaining peace.
The Role of Women
At this point I would like to emphasize the role that women could play in uniting divided communities in Somalia. In traditional Somali society women “play an indirect but important part in conflict resolution. In the early stages of a conflict they can act as peace envoys for their clans and are sometimes the ‘first messengers sent between disputing clans to break the ice.”[24] Even during the course of the civil war, “women across Somalia have been deeply involved in peace promotion and peace-making.”[25] In the grassroots and community level, women have respect and could exert influence over their traditional leaders (clan leaders), elders and politicians. Understanding this fact, the Life and Peace Institute has put “a strong focus on the empowerment of women as peacebuilders, through direct capacity building and training, or support to special women’s meetings.”[26] Therefore, women should be empowered in order to be at the forefront of any peace efforts in Somalia. They should be allowed to participate in any future peace and reconciliation conferences and decision-making processes.
Marriage as a Tool of Peace
Another thing that could contribute to peace-building from the grassroots level in Somalia is identifying cross-clan and sub-clan marriage relations. In Somali society, marriage across clans and sub-clans is prevalent. “Marriage in Somali society is a contract between families or lineages… and young people are encouraged to marry into a group where new relations can be established.”[27] Marriage relationships are a binding force among different clans and sub-clans and could help them develop close relationships and solve any disagreements through peaceful means. “Cross-clan marriages create diplomatic relations between groups, and are therefore treated with respect.”[28] Marriage strengthens bonds between lineages and often creates a basis for interaction among different clans and sub-clans. Thus, in a bottom-up approach to peace-building, cross-clan marriage relations could be used to solve disagreements among communities. People who have marriage connections from different clans and sub-clans could play a crucial role in narrowing the differences and perceptions among rival communities to work together toward lasting peace. NGOs and Civil Society: In the building of a local capacity, the NGOs and civil society could contribute a lot in the peace process in Somalia, through awareness raising programs, and by undertaking different socio-economic projects that benefit the local people. Civil society organizations and NGOs could raise the hopes of people of different clans by changing their hearts and minds in order to develop mutual trust and confidence, so that all can work for lasting peace whole-heartedly. The warlords and fighters, who have savaged the country, are sons of these people. If the society could develop confidence and trust in each other, it might be easy to eliminate warlordism.
In every society, the stories you tell to your children are very important for the harmony of the society.[29] If you pass narratives of hatred and enmity to your children, that means the conflict and mistrust will continue. Thus, civil societies, grassroots level organizations, and NGOs are needed to change the hearts and minds of Somali communities, so that they can begin to bury the past misery, hatred and enmity, for the sake of peace and a united Somalia.
Since the bottom-up approach requires mutual understanding and confidence-building among communities, there should be no time limits during the peace process. “Enough time must be made available to find a quality settlement, that is, one that deals effectively with the basic issues of conflict. When this is not met, and negotiators are forced into rushing a decision, agreements of poor quality may result.”[30] Such problems, of limiting time and rushing for a decision, have taught peacemakers bitter lessons that should be remembered, especially those learned during the UN-sponsored Addis Ababa conference of 1993. In connection to the time frame, mediators in the peaceprocess should be familiar with the social and cultural realities of the communities they are working with, so that they can understand the real problems of the culture, and help work toward their solutions. In protracted conflicts where the societies have suspicion and distrust of each other “only intermediaries that understand the cultural nuances of the society and who enjoy the Confianza (something more than simply ‘trust’) of the antagonist can hope to carry out intermediary roles successfully.”[31]
Though the initiation of building a local capacity should come from within, external support is also important in terms of providing financing, facilities and technical assistance. The Life and Peace Institute and John Paul Lederach also argue that external Actors should be limited to facilitation roles.[32] I agree with LPI’s and Lederach’s idea of facilitation, but external actors who facilitate the process should be sympathetic to the cause of Somali people. They should not be politically motivated and self-interest oriented international and regional actors.
In addition, any facilitation role played by external actors or the international community should not be that of arranging another conference outside Somalia. The international community must also not just pump money into the process for conferences. The international community should provide support for building the Somali local-level capacity for self-government, developing grassroots institutions, and encouraging civil society as a corner stone for regional administrations.
Bottom-Up Approach and Somali Traditional Peace and Reconciliation Mechanism
The bottom-up approach has clear appeal in Somalia, when we see Somali traditional peace and reconciliation mechanisms called Xeer.[33] “Xeer is a precedent-based social code which is understood to apply to all Somali people and served as a necessary restraint and moderating guide in disagreements and feuds between groups and individuals ? [it is] equivalent to an ad hoc village council and at which all males are ostensibly permitted to voice their concerns.”[34] It is the most democratic tactic, which solves disputes peacefully and allows all people to participate equally in the process of electing their leaders and establishing their administration.
Xeer fits with the bottom-up approach in the sense that it contains social and political conventions and contracts, and it emphasizes a decentralized political authority that is administered by community leaders. “Xeer is an institution to mediate social and political arrangements in present-day Somalia, where anarchy and state collapse continue.”[35] Xeer has been tried, experimentally, in Somaliland and Puntland and has proven to be very successful. These two regions succeeded in creating institutions led by a council of elders that “have both mandates for, and experience in conflict resolution and continuing responsibilities in establishing peace.”[36] Especially in Somaliland, the council of elders “succeeds not only in creating a constitution but in appointing the government.”[37]
Somaliland and Puntland might serve as models for stabilizing the other regions. If all regions succeed in establishing community-based administrative institutions, the formation of a federal state would not be difficult. “It must be realized that true peace for Somalia can only come from the Somali people themselves, with the engagement of traditional and indigenous peace and reconciliation mechanisms, and without international domination.”[38]
Bottom-Up Approach as a Means for Fair Power and Resources Sharing
The problem of power and resource-sharing is a major factor that led to the failure of previous peace efforts in Somalia. The power and resource-sharing problem is not limited to the Somali case; but it is a determining factor in most civil wars and intrastate conflicts. “It is logical as these wars involve a struggle for power and influence in society. This is a way to handle the participation of parties in a society after a war: to give space to a host of actors who have previously been suppressed or excluded from influence.”[39] Unless all parties feel secure, the peace-process is likely to fail because it “involves control over government, as government resources can be used to maintain the security dilemma or to transcend it.”[40] Thus, ensuring the security of all parties should be part of any peace process.[41]
If one of the warring parties is skeptical about its security after the agreement or in the future government, certainly it will spoil the agreement. “Even a small but dedicated group can commit a series of violent acts that can bring about the collapse of the peace process.”[42] Therefore, for any peace process to be successful, it should involve all parties.[43] In addition, a successful peace process requires the properly shared control of power and resources.[44] But “shared control may require some degree of trust; [and] it may also be a temporary arrangement for a transition period? This is where all parties are represented in [the] government according to a formula agreed upon beforehand.”[45]
Therefore, in the Somali case, the use of the bottom-up approach is ideal for solving the aforementioned problem of power and resource-sharing, and the participation and security dilemmas. Somalis have a “traditional system of land management, agricultural and grazing systems, conflict mediation, legal adjudication, and related functions.”[46] Using this system, Somalis solve disputes related to power, land, resources, and the security of different communities and clans. Somali people “seek broad-based power sharing, both as an echo of the past and as a search for a more participatory future.”[47] For this reason, “any new model of governance must include power sharing,”[48] which could only be realized through a bottom-up approach in order to represent all Somalis.
Today, Somalis are in desperate need of peace and stability. After enormous destruction in the economic, social and political spheres of Somalia and loss of life, Somalis need any sort of peace. In all previous peace efforts, Somalis were hoping to hear good news, news of peace and unity. Unfortunately, most of the previous peace efforts could not bring the lasting peace that Somalis have dreamt for decades. The main causes of the conflict are believed to be unequal power and resources sharing among different Somali clans and sub-clans. These issues have never been addressed in the previous efforts. The top-down approach, forming a centralized administration starting from the top-level leadership, was used in the previous peace efforts. However, given the hatred and suspicion among Somali clans, a top-down approach could not solve the Somali problem. The only possible approach that could solve the Somali problem, as this paper argues, is adopting a bottom-up approach.
A bottom-up approach is a comprehensive and community-centered long-term strategy that could bring a lasting peace in divided societies. Bottom-up approach in Somalia requires empowering local people, raising public awareness, and ensuring representation and participation of all sections of the community in the process. Accessible sections of the society like women and elders should play a crucial role in the peace process. In short, a bottom-up approach in Somalia should be indigenizing the peace-building process. The peace process should start from within and trickle up in Somalia and should win the hearts and minds of the Somalia people.
Somalis do not need externally convened conferences where self-appointed governments are set up. As history shows us, previous peace and reconciliation conferences failed and the governments which had been elected in these conferences had no public base. They could not win the support of people, so they could not unite the country. Therefore any future peace process should be inside Somalia by Somalis. External Actors should restrict themselves to providing facilitation for the process. In addition, they should provide financial and moral assistance for the process. Otherwise, external Actors should let the Somalis take the ball of the peace process and play the game by themselves.

prepared by: M.C.A.Shiil

Dhaymoolenews Soomaaliland, Hargeisa


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