Opinion article by His Excellency Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed, The Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources of The Federal Republic of Somalia
As Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.”
Over the past few years several African states have emerged from devasting civil war and the breakdown of civil institutions. Like Somalia, they have embarked on a programme of rebuilding, fully conscious that the freedom and prosperity of their citizens rests ultimately on success in embedding the rule of law.
The long and brutal tragedy of Somalia’s history over recent decades makes us particularly conscious that this will play a crucial role in the success or otherwise of our continued reconstruction.
Fundamentally, I see investing in the rule of law as meaning drafting good constitutions, reforming laws and courts to embed an independent judiciary, empowering citizens, ensuring equality and access and justice for all, regulating for fair access to markets and services and promoting fiscal regimes that encourage foreign direct investment. Of course, we have a long way to go with many challenges to surmount. But we are making progress.
After 30 years of civil war, Somalia is committed to embedding a democratically elected government that is inclusive, both politically and geographically. Moreover, we are proud that of our parliament’s 275 MPs, 67 are women, and we seek to increase this representation.
However, this commitment to democracy needs to be supported by rebuilding the economy in a way that will allow every citizen to share the benefits of economic success.
To this end, the Somali Government has embarked on a series of legislative reforms as part of its commitment to sharing its wealth with every citizen. In 2018 the Government announced a landmark revenue sharing agreement ensuring a fair and equitable sharing of Somalia’s existing and potential mineral and natural resources amongst all Somali citizens.
This Act is the first step in establishing Somalia as a country committed to judicial, legal and financial reforms whereby it is seen by the international community as aspiring to best practice in all its institutions. This goal extends to abiding by both the spirit and terms of international law to help attract foreign direct investment and broader support.
In all of this, we are being supported by international institutions such as the United Nations which is assisting the Federal Government and Federal Member States to extend justice services across Somalia Indeed, the Chinese UN Envoy recently stated that the world should continue to help Somalia strengthen its governance capacity. Of course we face major challenges but the strategic advice we are receiving will help over time to establish capable, accountable and rights-based police services to provide public order, safety and security for all the people of Somalia.
And that philosophy extends to our international relations, including being a good partner to our neighbours in East Africa. Take our maritime disagreement with Kenya, for example.
Somalia is committed to the arbitration process currently underway in the International Court of Justice and will abide by the judgement of that court, which will without doubt be delivered fairly and within the rule of international law.
Any suggestion that Somalia has behaved dishonourably by trying to attract bids for oils blocks in the disputed area, or indeed has even undertaken any seismic surveys in that area, is entirely unfounded. Our commitment to the rule of law extends to this issue and for Somalia that commitment is, I believe, the key to our future from which we will not waver.
Building the rule of law will take time but I believe we have the will and support of the people to successfully embed it with the economic and social benefits which will follow.