Somalia: Failed State of Nascent States-System? FOI Somalia Papers: Report 1


  • Peter Haldén

Publish date: 2008-12-11

Report number: FOI-R--2598--SE

Pages: 64

Written in: English


  • State-formation
  • African Security
  • the Horn of Africa


This report deals with the problem of order in Somalia, one of its purposes being to ascertain the factors that sustain the current condition of statelessness. An important aspect of the report is to emphasise the differences within the area encompassed by the legal entity of Somalia. In the North, two state-like entities have evolved, Somaliland and Puntland, while southern and central Somalia are marred by violence and the absence of effective political order. This contrast between functioning de facto states in the north and a non-functioning de jure states in the South is central to understanding the political relations in Somalia today. The report conducts a reconceptualisation of Somalia as a nascent states-system. This understanding seeks to replace the hitherto dominant discourse of Somalia as a "faild state". The interpretation of Somalia as a nascent states-system begets consequences for the political ambitions of external actors: a striving to enhance stability and to construct a system of political interaction based on norms in order to build peace replaces the emphasis on retaining and/or resurrecting the old state structure. The analysis of the political conflicts in Somalia after 1960 in the report demonstrates that the idea of the sovereign state is an important driver of conflicts. If this idea were to be abandoned, then the chances of decreasing the extent as well as the intensity of the political violence increase. In turn, this would increase the possibilities for stability in the wider region.