The Republic of Somaliland declared independence from

Mohammed Hassan, Ibrahim, Ulf Terlinden
Somalia in 1991 after years of war had culminated in the overthrow of the Somali dictator Siyad Barre. Since then Somaliland has proven the most stable entity in the Somali region. Despite setbacks during two internal wars in 1992 and 1994-96, Somaliland has also been one of the most peaceful places in the Horn of Africa. A lengthy self-financed process of clan reconciliation in the early 1990s led to a power-sharing government. This has provided an important base for Somaliland's enduring
more » ... and's enduring political stability and for its reconstruction and development. Somaliland defies a common view that Somalis are incapable of governing themselves. Despite numerous and continuing challenges, especially in the context of the democratization process begun in 2001, Somaliland presents an alternative path to state reconstruction in the Somali region. Building peace and forming a state From the outset the existence of functioning traditional institutions in Somaliland was fundamental. These institutions have survived both British colonial rule and Somali statehood functionally intact, albeit transformed. Revitalized during the resistance against Siyad Barre's regime, ad hoc councils of elders (guurtiida) instantly took on the role of quasi-administrations, managing militias, mediating disputes, administering justice, interacting with international agencies and raising local revenue in the absence of local administrative structures. Moreover traditional clan elders provided a readily available conflict resolution mechanism and reconciliation infrastructure. In the 1990s international intervention by the UN Mission in Somalia (UNOSOM) and by other foreign powers struggled to cobble together an agreement between warlords in Mogadishu. However Somaliland achieved its cessation of hostilities and also longer term stability through a series of no less than 38 clan-based peace and reconciliation conferences and meetings between 1990 and 1997. The efforts in Somaliland (and also in Puntland) differed from those in south central Somalia on a number of key characteristics: 1) meetings were materially supported by communities, including the diaspora; 2) key figures of each affected clan participated voluntarily; and 3) resolutions were adopted by consensus after broad consultation. These circumstances provided for a remarkable degree of local and national ownership, legitimacy and inclusion. Much of this was transferred to the statebuilding process in Somaliland, too-at least initially. The new polity is often described as a 'dynamic hybrid' of western form and traditional substance. It is founded on clan-based power sharing and balanced political representation (the beel system). But this occurs within the framework of western style procedures and institutions, such as elections, parliament and cabinet. At its centre, the constitutional Guurti, the powerful Upper House of Parliament, institutionalized the political participation of traditional and religious elders. Reintegration and demobilization of former combatants were crucial in terms of neutralizing potential spoilers. Once the port of Berbera had effectively been brought under government control in 1993, Somaliland strongly benefited from the absence of any other significant resources that could have attracted a war economy. The availability of the port revenues also enabled the government to integrate many militias into a new national army. Former SNM leaders were appointed as cabinet ministers. As well as consensus building, cooption was an important and successful government tactic. Somaliland 'home grown' peacemaking and political reconstruction