Monthly Archives: April 2012

The UN’s constitution for Somalia

There were a couple of articles online this week on Somalia’s proposed new constitution that really underlined the disgraceful manner in which the UN has approached the drafting of the document. The first was an article on the contribution of second and third-year American law students to the new Somali constitution. No, this wasn’t an interesting hypothetical task in a constitutional law class, but as their professor Muna Ndulo (he’s not a Somali woman, despite the name), who is consulting on the document, described it;

“The students really are having a role in history,” said Ndulo. “Their work is very significant, and the U.N. acknowledged their contribution to the process.”

Remarkable. Degrading for most Somalis, who have been largely shut out of the process (I, and most Somali observers, cant name one Somali individual who has taken a lead in the drafting process), but I’m sure would have been an interesting diversion for these students from their other, less internationally important, assignments. As one student explained, she had “learned quite a bit throughout about the challenging process of nation-building.“. You’re welcome.

More recently, I came across this article describing a meeting the committee preparing the new constitution held with the elders of the Kakuma camp in Kenya, to gather their suggestions on the document. It would appear that the UN are taking the contributions of these respected Somali elders and those from second year American university students with some parity. In fact, I don’t believe either of their contributions will be considered by the UN, not in in any real sense. As far as this ‘drafting process’ is concerned, all consultations (with or without Somali participation), are a sham. The international community are aware of what they want to see in this new constitution, they are the only one’s demanding it after all.

The Somali political scientist, Abdi Afyare Elmi, offered an excellent analysis of the UN’s reasons for demanding the replacement of Somalia’s 1960 constitution in order to end the transitional period. Most significantly, for it’s regionally powerful neighbours Ethiopia and Kenya, being the irredentist claims made in the 1960 document to one day unite the Somali people under one state. Although I disagree with the claims Elmi makes against federalism in Somalia, he exposes the international community’s bullish imposition of its will on the Somali people very well;

 It argues that the government cannot amend or change the content of the draft constitution. Yet, it wants the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to ratify the draft constitution – a contradiction in terms.

Even more offensive than consulting a group of American students on a supposedly Somali national constitution, is doing so and forcing the unelected, but Somali, Transitional Federal Parliament to ratify it without their input. If this were happening to any other country it would be an international scandal. This has been Somalia’s political reality for the past two decades, and if this constitution is ratified, it will become a more permanent arrangement.