Gauging the Feasibility of Local Ownership in Security Governance in Fragile States : A comparative study of south/central Somalia and Somaliland

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Somalia has been a country without an effective government since the fall of Siyad Barre’s regime in 1991. Multiple attempts to establish an administration with sovereign control over Somalia’s entire territory have been undertaken but none of them has been very successful. Part of the reason is the complexity of Somali society, which is known to center around five major clans, each consisting of sub-clans and other groupings that change alliances per issue and over time. Over the past eighteen years many efforts have been made by the international community, notably the United Nations (UN), the United States (US), and the East-African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to restore legitimate governance in Somalia. Such interventions have been typified as top-down approaches to state-building. What is meant is that interventions have been state-centered both in the process and the product of state-building. As such, top-down approaches to state-building are designed and implemented at national level and aim to contribute to the legitimacy of the central state. These top-down approaches to state-building have been criticized because they did not take the precarious nature of Somali society’s clan interests into account. In particular, the consistent top-down approach to state-building in Somalia has been unrepresentative and exclusive in nature because in the process some clans were privileged over others, which inspired new rounds of conflict between clans. Whereas clan imbalances are perhaps unavoidable given the large number of clans and sub-clans, it is important that those imbalances are not perceived as unjust and regarded as potentially threatening. Processes to reconcile clans are instrumental in this regard but have mostly been neglected in attempts to resurrect a legitimate central government.
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