Somalilandsun-Rebuilding a country after conflict is about far more than repairing damaged buildings and re-establishing public institutions. Fundamentally, it is about rebuilding relationships at all levels, restoring the people’s trust and confidence in governance systems and the rule of law, and providing the population with greater hope for the future.
These processes are all critical to the consolidation of peace and security in fragile post-conflict situations. When they are neglected, the threat of conflict re-emerging is very real. In this sense, state-building and peace-building are potentially contradictory processes – the former requiring the consolidation of governmental authority, the latter involving its moderation through compromise and consensus.
The challenge for both national and international peacemakers is to situate reconciliation firmly within the context of state-building, while employing state-building as a platform for the development of mutual trust and lasting reconciliation. In the Somali region, neither of these processes can be possible without the broad and inclusive engagement of the Somali people. Interpeace (formerly known as WSP International) – launched its Somali Programme in the northeastern part of Somalia known as Puntland in 1996. It subsequently expanded its programme to Somaliland in 1999, and to south-central Somalia in 2000. Working with highly respected local peace-building institutions established with the programme’s support – the Puntland Development Research Centre (PDRC) in Garowe, the Academy for Peace and Development (APD) in Hargeysa, and the Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD) in Mogadishu – Interpeace has employed a highly successful ‘Participatory Action Research’ methodology to advance and support interlinked processes of peace-building and state formation. Interpeace’s experience in the Somali region over the past decade indicates that the understanding and trust developed through the PAR methodology can help to resolve conflicts directly, while at the same time building consensual approaches to address the social, economic and political issues necessary for a durable peace. The Dialogue for Peace programme has provided unique opportunities for the three partners to engage with each other in collaborative studies and shared projects across their borders – such as this peace mapping study – while managing their respective components of the Dialogue independently. The three partners meet regularly with Interpeace’s Somali programme team as well as with a ‘Dialogue Support Group’ comprising the programme’s donors at the European Commission, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, UK, and USAID.
In January 2007, Interpeace and its Somali partner organisations began a study of peace initiatives in the Somali region as part of Phase II of the Dialogue for Peace Programme. The study complements the “conflict mapping” exercise undertaken in partnership with the World Bank in Phase I of the programmei . No comparable study of peace initiatives in the Somali region had yet been undertaken, despite the numerous reconciliation processes in the Somali region since 1991, at local, regional and national levels. While some of these have failed to fulfil expectations of resolving violent conflict, others have provided a basis for lasting stability, peace and development but are unknown beyond their immediate context. Interpeace and its partners consider that there are valuable lessons to be learned from these initiatives for both Somali and international policy makers, in terms of key factors that influence their success, sustainability or failure, and in terms of the relationship between peace processes and state building.
Read the full report titled Peace in Somaliland: An Indigenous Approach to State-Building