Thinking Beyond Roadmaps in Somalia

Expanding Policy Options for State Building

Progress toward building a viable, functioning state in Somalia appears to have stalled in the face of political infighting, corruption, and insecurity. With its mandate due to expire in 2016, the Federal Government of Somalia is in danger of missing a series of deadlines, agreed with the international community, to pass a permanent constitution and hold national elections. In this report, Dominik Balthasar of the European Union Institute for Security Studies examines whether these priorities are the right ones for a government struggling to win public legitimacy. Citing the example of Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia in 1991 to declare an independence yet to be recognized by the international community, the author shows that state building is an inherently messy, elite-driven process that does not—and should not—follow a set path. Examining Somaliland’s singular approach to building a state is instructive in helping Somalis and their international partners consider new approaches to their own, faltering project.

Dominik Balthasar is an analyst with the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Brussels.

Dominik Balthasar