Somalia’s Statehood Is This a “Failed State” in the Truest Sense?

Before delving into the example of Somalia, it is critical to define a failed state precisely. Theoretical definitions may not necessarily apply to a certain territory’s political reality. The term ‘failed state’ is extremely vague and continues to be debated by academics and other political pundits. When a state becomes incapable of giving positive political benefits to its citizens, it fails. Positive political goods include “security, law, and order (the state exercising exclusive authority over the justifiable use of violence).” The Somali state was designed by British and Italian constitutional experts and bestowed with sovereignty by the society of states. It’s unsurprising that “the standards used to evaluate states are derived from Max Weber’s ideal-typical, rational-legal state apparatus described in his 1922 work The theory of social and economic organization are overwhelmingly European (and by extension, states in North America and Australia). Finally, these western nations meet the conditions for an ideal sort of state. The final product of what a state should look like and its subsequent qualities undoubtedly “draw some academic criticism due to its ahistorical and ideologically skewed roots.

Somalia is not recognized as a failed state via an analytical lens based on ground realities, but through a political lens. The United Nations and the international community have taken a political stance in attempting to incorporate Weberian state traits into Somalia in its entirety. Nicholas Kay, the United Nations Secretary-Special General’s Representative for Somalia since 2013, remarked in a 2015 piece for Al-Jazeera, “I am not ignorant to the obstacles and hazards.” Since June 2013, I have lived and worked in Mogadishu. I have observed Somalia’s arduous journey toward improved government and stability”. Somalia, he stated, was becoming more politically stable and developed as a result of collaboration with the international community. He is imprecise about the region he is referring to. He continues by stating that the UN’s presence throughout Somalia, beyond Mogadishu, enables them to provide critical political, logistical, humanitarian, and development assistance to the remainder of the country. According to the article, their presence throughout Somalia, beyond Mogadishu, enables them to provide critical political, logistical, humanitarian, and development assistance to the remainder of the country. From his vantage point, he has failed to recognize the two functional northern separate entities. That is primarily what the international community has chosen, and he conveys that image; that Somalia can/shall be called a stable state only when the TFG occupies and rules the entire country with the assistance of the UN and the international community. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is a prominent example of “Stewardship,” i.e. a western-imposed institution in Somalia that continues to torment the country in an ill-fated attempt to unite it as a unified entity. The US and the UN established the TFG to eliminate the Sharia-based Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which had restored the highest level of order in southern Somalia since 1991. Prior to the installation of the unpopular TFG in Mogadishu, a relatively mild rudimentary government existed. The international community did not consult the Somali people over the TFG’s legitimacy, and as a result, the TFG continues to lack support among Somalis. Prior to the TFG invasion and disturbance of peace in south Somalia, the UIC had vanquished militants and warlords, and its government, though unrecognized, was functional and had the support of the Somalis.

Not only is labeling Somalia a failed state dishonest, but it also reflects an unrealistic conception of statehood based on a Weberian definition. Essentially, all three states should be recognized as autonomous entities and reviewed individually to decide if they meet the criteria for statehood or have failed to meet the criteria. However, the question of whether Somalia as a whole qualifies as a state cannot be raised. Somalia was a state before to the commencement of the civil war in 1991, and while it may be considered a failed state for a few months prior to Somaliland’s unilateral declaration of independence in May 1991, it has not been a state (one entity) since that time. As a result, the term “failed state” is an erroneous designation. Somalia is not a unified entity, and the choice to label the country a failed state is political, not academic. A more accurate evaluation of Somalia would acknowledge that Puntland remained anarchic until 1998 and that South Somalia remained anarchic until the UIC’s disbandment. The categorization of the entire country as a “failed state” is deceptive.

Due to the legacy of colonization, the notion of state failure and accompanying criteria for establishing a stable state continue to disproportionately affect the developing countries. The way these states are founded is frequently detrimental to non-western states. By contrast, Western nations reject the forced conceptions of state, non-state institutions, democracy, and good governance in their entirety. They exploit and appropriate notions and discourses in order to gain political clout and control. They become instruments of local politics and (to a lesser extent) instruments of power bargaining in the western-dominated global arena. Somalia is still undergoing war, turmoil, and displacement of Somalis as a result of western interference.

Somalia has demonstrated to the world that indigenous institutions can undertake all of a state’s tasks, and do so more effectively, as demonstrated in Somaliland and Puntland. The best solution that the West and the UN can advocate for the Somali people is to attempt to incorporate indigenous policies and develop long-term, fair, and effective policies for the southern part of Somalia, that is, “a departure from the Weberian standard when assessing statehood with a fresh look at African states, beyond normative concepts.”

In view of the concept above, the International Community should be objective in assessing Somali issues, recognizing reality on the ground, and adjusting policies that benefit the Somali people. There should be impartial arbitration and support for an analytical approach to the country’s condition, since there are sufficient resources and expertise available to provide a constructive and accurate assessment of Somalia. It is past time for any idealized visions of what failing regimes should look like to be abandoned. Somalia’s status as a failed state is a product of both an idealized notion and a misunderstanding. It is false and unjust to the Somali people and other concerned individuals worldwide. Pretending that Somalia is a single entity ruled by the TFG would continue to do the country more harm than good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

18 − nine =

Enquire here

Give us a call or fill in the form below and we'll contact you. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24-48 hours on business days.