Although Somaliland is not fully recognized as a country, it is one of the few countries whose democracy is on the rise at a time when democracy is declining in the world. Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) which measures the transformation processes towards democracy and a market economy worldwide recorded a historic low this year. According to the BTI 2022 report, this is the first time that autocracies have outnumbered democracies, with 70 out of the 137 examined countries being autocratic. Correspondingly, the House of Freedom highlights that democracy has been steadily declining over the last 16 years, authoritarianism was gaining strength, and the political rights and civil liberties around the world deteriorated. The Washington-based nonprofit organization argues that the United States, which was for many years been known as the leader of the free world, has someway relinquished its leadership role in the global struggle for human freedom. The US and other freedom-loving countries have neglected and failed to give full political support to like-minded democratic countries with limited international recognition which are struggling with the shadow of authoritarianism and chaos such as Taiwan and Somaliland. The latest House of Freedom report ranked Somaliland as a ‘partly free’ improving 7 points from the preceding year with a score of 49/100. This is an unmatched record by any other state in the East of Africa including Kenya (48/100) which was known to be the most democratic country in East Africa.
Although Somaliland locates in a region where democracy is not popular, the country has been successfully working for the last 20 years to strengthen the democracy and keep progressing to a fully democratic status. Since the early 2000s, a dozen of free and fair elections have taken place in Somaliland territory and five presidents have been elected with a peaceful transition of power. This is an unparalleled achievement and many of those who observe the democratization process of African countries describe Somaliland as a democratic success and one of the strongest democracies in Africa. A perfect example of Somaliland’s democratic maturity is the ruling party’s acceptance to last year’s joint parliamentary and local elections results, in which the opposition parties secured a surprise win. In addition to being a rising democratic and free economy, Somaliland locates at a strategic location that plays a significant role in the global economy. All the world superpowers, from the ancient Egyptians to the cold war superpowers (The US and The Soviet Union), have had trade, military, and social relations with the cities along the Somaliland coast from Zaila, Berbera to Laas Qoray. Despite Somaliland’s achievements and strategic importance, Somaliland people have suffered diplomatic isolation and unfair treatment which left the country in poor economic and social conditions.
Finally, in order to reverse the trend of the declining number of democracies, the democratic countries need to show more support and real solidarity for the weak and rising democracies based on the shared values and principles of freedom and democracy. Somaliland’s inclusion into the international community will encourage global democratic efforts to prevent the growth of authoritarian powers.
Head of Public Diplomacy Section