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Published On: Sat, Dec 10th, 2016

MOFA Press Release on Human Rights Celebration in Somaliland

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Today we celebrate the 58th anniversary of the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Declaration continues to represent the benchmark for human freedom and dignity in the world today. The Somaliland Government uses this occasion to reaffirm its firm commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Our Constitution enshrines in law the human rights of all our citizens and articles 10 and 21 confirm our commitment to adhere to the UDHR and all relevant international human rights treaties.

Since the restoration of our sovereignty in 1991, the Republic of Somaliland has focused on rebuilding and rehabilitating itself as a nation. Having endured the catastrophe of war and human rights abuses against its people, Somaliland is unequivocal in its support for the promotion of human rights, which it views as an intrinsic part of national development.

Although Somaliland has not ratified international human rights treaties (pending international recognition of its present de facto statehood), under Articles 10 and 21 of the Somaliland Constitution we accept that we inherit all international instruments signed under the Government of Somalia between 1960 and 1991. This constitutional commitment extends to regional human rights conventions including the AU Constitutive Act, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Somaliland further recognizes and adheres to international human rights instruments subsequent to this date including the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Somaliland regrets the fact that despite universal acceptance of the principle that human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent, the international community does not recognize the right to self-determination of Somaliland’s people. Somaliland’s sovereignty over its people and territory is ignored, which imposes harmful and unnecessary constraints on our government’s ability to uphold and deliver the rights our people are entitled to. For example, we are prevented from signing up to the UN’s Human Rights monitoring mechanisms despite our willingness to do so and to comply with relevant provisions.

The right to self-determination, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations (UN) and International Covenants of Human Rights, states that “all peoples have the right of self-determination” and that by virtue of that right they are free to determine their political status to pursue their economic, social and cultural development. This right was affirmed as part of international law at the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in June 1993. It is such a fundamental precondition of the enjoyment of other rights that it has often been called ‘the right to have rights’.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly intended that human rights be enjoyed on a universal and meaningful basis, yet four million people in the Republic of Somaliland continue to be overlooked and deprived of the right to determine their own fate. It is long past time that the international community acknowledged the unjust and untenable situation whereby Somalilanders are effectively denied their ‘right to have rights’. On this day which celebrates human rights, we call on the international community to grant the wish of the people of Somaliland and ensure they can enjoy their rights to the fullest extent in the years to come.


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