n Conflict Trends - Preventing violent conflict in Somalia : traditional and constitutional opportunities

Volume 2014, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Somalia is beginning to lift itself from the ashes and debris of war, and attempting once again the project of statebuilding and peacemaking to bring stability to a society devoid of it for so long. In September 2012, 135 traditional elders from different clans and groups elected a new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, and 275 members of Parliament by secret ballot. A six-pillar plan was formulated by government to guide the state's development process. The constitution is in its final stages of development. Foreign relations have been re-established and investments have increased marginally. Yet, despite these positive developments, peacemaking processes need to be institutionalised to ensure that future disputes do not escalate into violent, widespread conflict. Disputes and non-violent conflict are inevitable in any state's existence. However, when those differences are not fully addressed, the conflict can become violent, as in the case of Somalia. Furthermore, the highly developed infrastructure of war in Somalia means that those not satisfied have the means to respond violently. This article assesses the opportunities for preventive mechanisms that exist within traditional customary law, known as , as well as in the most recent draft of the constitution, with a particular look at factors that could prevent disputes from escalating into violence. What will become clear through the analysis is that both and the constitution offer opportunities for preventing such conflict. These opportunities should be used to their fullest potential and be institutionalised, to promote complementarity between and the constitution and, ultimately, enhance the likelihood of peace.

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