When the Swedish government recognized Palestine as a state, it was a clear political mark. At the same time, in the Horn of Africa, Somaliland is today celebrating 24 years of democracy and stability. It should now be time for Sweden to take the lead internationally and fully recognize Somaliland as an independent country.
Somaliland, the northwestern part of what was then the Republic of Somalia, liberated itself in 1991, after having previously been subjected to oppression and military abuse. Among other things, cities had been bombed by the then Somali regime under Siad Barre.
In many other countries where a liberation movement has been successful, it has soon established itself as a one-party state or as a military dictatorship. We have too many examples of such a development in Africa and Asia.
But that has not been the case in Somaliland. Instead, the country's new leaders have sought reconciliation and consensus and established a government based on both a popularly elected parliament and a popularly elected president.
Has built a stable society
Through a successful combination of traditional and Western institutions, it has been possible to create a stable society, where consultation and division of power between clans is combined with multi-party systems and a legislative parliament that sets limits on the president's power. While the southern parts of former Somalia have suffered from internal clan conflicts, jihadism and terrorism, Somaliland has had almost three decades of peaceful and stable development.
In Somaliland, there is today such a positive development that the outside world wishes to see in Africa and the Middle East. In addition, the country meets all international criteria for recognition, by controlling its own territory and enjoying legitimacy in the eyes of its own citizens.
In a region marked by terrorism, oppression and widespread human rights abuses, Somaliland is a shining exception, with peace and democracy. It has also achieved this on its own, with the help of institutions and solutions that it has developed itself, and without international support.
Recognition would help the whole region
However, Somaliland is still not recognized by the outside world. Recognition would mean a lot to Somaliland. Unemployment is high and the country has a great need for investment that creates jobs. It can in the long run prevent young people from getting to the Mediterranean where they fall.
Recognition would also help neighboring Somalia develop democracy and fight militant Islamists.
The EU believes that the African Union (AU) should take the first step, but the AU is dominated by dictatorships and is hardly interested in encouraging democratic experiments.
Therefore, Sweden, in its foreign policy role as a standard bearer for democracy and human rights, should take the step of recognizing Somaliland as its own state. This would also help to support a desirable development not only in Somaliland but in the Horn of Africa.