The high-level seminar held in Rome on 6 May 2015 represented a relevant opportunity to trigger international dialogue on the future of Somali institutions and the security challenges affecting the Horn of Africa. The seminar was organized by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), and the Embassy of Italy to the Federal Republic of Somalia. The IAI library was the venue for a productive talk on the Somali perspectives, with particular attention to the current institutional process and security challenges. In the discussion, federalism emerged as the most viable option to stabilize Somalia after twenty years of conflict and fragmentation.
Nowadays, federalism is a fact in Somalia as the emerging regional authorities are compensating for the inability of the central federal government to maintain control over the territory, and are providing essential services to the population. However, federalism would appear to be an ongoing process; a specific model of division of competencies has to be defined and formalised in the complex constitutional process in order to avoid further inefficiencies and instability.
Another relevant theme linked with Somali stabilisation is the nexus between security and development. These two elements are connected, representing necessary steps along the way in the resolution of the huge Somali humanitarian crisis. A renewed attention focused more on development than on security challenges could represent the core of a new international effort in support of the Somali reconciliation and securitisation process. These two main themes, federalism and the security development nexus, were discussed in the two sessions of the seminar, with the participation of the President of the Puntland State of Somalia, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, and the First Vice President of the Jubaland State of Somalia, Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail, along with scholars and experts. The seminar also saw the participation of a delegation from Puntland, composed of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Ahmed Aden, Abdikadir Omar, and Issa Mohamud Farah from the Agency for Minerals and Oil of Puntland, and a delegation from Jubaland, including Abdighani Abdi Jama, Minister of State at the Presidency of Jubaland. Other participants were Mussa Hassan Abdulle, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Somalia to Italy, and Awes Abukar Awes from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Somalia to Italy, Ambassador at-large Abdirashid A. Sed, political analyst Faisal Abdi Roble, and Kadigia Mohamud from Università La Sapienza. MAECI was represented by Marco Claudio Vozzi and Carlo Campanile. Experts included Palmira Ciacciarelli (Crown Agents and former European Union Stabilisation Adviser to Somalia), Marco Massoni (Institute for Global Studies) and Gianni Bonvicini, Nicoletta Pirozzi, Natalino Ronzitti and Stefano Silvestri from IAI. This report provides a summary of the meeting and highlights the key points that emerged from the debate.
The federalist perspectives: policies and prospects
After the welcome address, the IAI Executive Vice President Gianni Bonvicini made the opening remarks. He thanked the distinguished representatives of Puntland, Jubaland and the Federal Republic of Somalia, and all the participants. Bonvicini underlined the great opportunity provided by the meeting to offer a renewed perspective on the Somali reconstruction process. He then introduced a general description of the current situation in Somalia. Nowadays, federalism could be considered as both a fact and an ongoing process in Somalia. The fragmentation produced by twenty years of war generated inability on the part of the central authorities of Mogadishu to maintain control over the national territory, determining the necessity to develop other forms of governance in Somalia. First, Somaliland declared its independence after the overthrow of Barre in 1991. Next Puntland established its autonomy, in 1998. Then, more recently, even Jubaland and South West declared their own autonomy as parts of a federal state.
Although these regions play an important role in trying to maintain control over their territory and to provide essential services to the population, there is a lack of formalisation of the federalist model, such as would define precisely the division of powers and competencies of regional and central governments. Concluding his opening remarks, Gianni Bonvicini invited all the participants to make their contributions to a positive and productive meeting, leaving the floor to the representatives of Puntland and Jubaland.
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