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Somalia: Struggling to Implement Agreements, Policies, Laws, and Conventions
By Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim
Sunday November 5, 2023

Since the establishment of Somalia's permanent federal government institutions in 2012, I have had the opportunity to witness the country's ongoing struggle with the implementation of agreements, policies, laws, and international conventions. Somalia enters these commitments with good intentions, but its consistent challenge lies in translating these commitments into tangible actions. This concern has grown increasingly evident during my years in the country, making it a critical issue that demands attention for Somalia to progress effectively.

Over the last decade, I have spent a significant portion of my time in Somalia, allowing me to observe the evolving state capability and its various dimensions closely. During this time, I became acutely aware of the disparity between the agreements, policies, laws, and conventions signed on behalf of Somalia and the ability to translate them into tangible results. This observation compelled me to delve deeper into the problem of implementation.

One of the most notable political milestones in recent years was the adoption of the Provisional Constitution in August 2012, marking the end of the transition and the establishment of the new Federal Government. Alongside this constitutional development, several political agreements were made between the FGS and Federal Member States (FMS) that were never fully implemented. Prominent among these was the recurring commitment to hold national elections based on the one-person-one-vote principle. Despite numerous agreements, the practical realisation of this goal remained elusive.

This November evokes memories of a decade ago when I took part in the initial phase of the Jubaland Reconciliation Conference, commencing at the Jazeera Hotel in Mogadishu on the 1st of November 2013. This conference emerged from an agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and Ahmed Madobe, representing the Interim Juba Administration, in Addis Ababa in August 2013. Additional agreements, particularly focusing on security concerns like the demobilisation and reintegration of militias into the Somali National Army (SNA), were also established. Yet, regrettably, these agreements were never comprehensively put into practice.

Policy-wise, Somalia has introduced essential frameworks to drive progress across various sectors. A prime example is the National Environmental Policy, designed, among other things, to manage municipal waste and address environmental challenges. However, local authorities still struggle with its full implementation, hindering the country's environmental sustainability efforts.

In 2013, Somalia enacted the Regions and District Law to establish a mandated and legally structured framework for local governance systems. Regrettably, this law has not been implemented by its prescribed provisions.

Furthermore, Somalia ratified several international conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, designed to safeguard the rights and well-being of its children. Despite this commitment, the nation has yet to make the necessary investments in ensuring the welfare of its youth.

In the realm of international relations, Somalia has entered into bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, such as the one with Turkey regarding energy and mining collaboration in June 2016. Despite the initial agreements, tangible cooperation and results have been limited.

The challenges Somalia faces in implementing agreements, policies, laws, and international conventions can be categorised into two primary factors. The first pertains to a deficiency in essential groundwork, including preparation, planning, consultations, and assurance of the relevant authorities' mandate, acceptance, and capability for successful implementation.

The second category of challenges is compounded by a multifaceted array of issues, including persistent security threats disrupting implementation, constraints related to the capacity of institutions and human resources within governmental bodies, frequent political instability and disputes, and resource limitations obstructing plan execution. Issues such as corruption and a deficiency in transparency pose significant obstacles, while the absence of effective coordination among stakeholders and fragmented efforts further exacerbate inefficiencies in the implementation process.

To enhance Somalia's implementation capacity, a multifaceted approach is imperative. First and foremost, the nation should prioritise security sector reform to ensure a stable environment for executing plans and projects. Building strong, accountable, and transparent institutions is essential, and recruiting and retaining skilled personnel within these institutions should be a key focus. Additionally, it is crucial to establish mechanisms for resolving political disputes and improving intergovernmental cooperation. Anti-corruption measures and enhanced financial oversight will help safeguard resources for implementation while fostering public participation, and awareness campaigns can ensure more significant support and vigilance. Effective coordination and cooperation among government bodies, civil society, international partners, and regional actors will promote efficiency and coherence. Furthermore, addressing historical conflicts and reconciling societal divisions can contribute to a conducive atmosphere for implementation. Ultimately, a concerted effort to overcome these challenges will transform Somalia's commitment to action.

Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim
[email protected]


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