Building Peace in Somalia: A CIC Project on Policy Performance

 Somalia has long faced a diverse and daunting set of challenges. Countless political actors have unsuccessfully struggled to build a stable central government capable of holding territory and delivering services. In many ways, the fundaments that have fueled instability and violence for decades remain, but since the September 2012 election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, there has been palpable optimism amongst many Somalis and international actors, and there is a sense that we may be in a window of opportunity to make durable gains in Somalia.

It is in this context that the Center on International Cooperation (CIC), with the support of the Government of Sweden, has initiated a project to study external actors’ peacebuilding frameworks in Somalia. Over of the course of 2014 and early 2015, we will produce a series of reports that explores how recent international learning has been applied in Somalia and provides actionable recommendations.

My colleague Sarah Hearn and I recently conducted an initial survey of peacebuilding frameworks currently being applied in Somalia, and what was abundantly clear is that there is little consensus on what “peacebuilding” actually means. In our discussions with a range of international and Somali actors, the terms “peacebuilding,” “statebuilding,” and “stabilization” were frequently used interchangeably and to describe a broad range of activities.

Overall, we found three primary categories of peacebuilding activity:

• First are frameworks that focus on national processes aimed at building the legitimacy and capacity of the Somali state.

• Second, sub-national “bottom-up” peacebuilding frameworks emphasize the need to facilitate reconciliation and build capacity at the local level, as well as to mediate within and among regional entities. Many also emphasize the importance of supporting state formation through mediation between regional authorities and Mogadishu.

• Lastly, there are a range of security frameworks that aim to improve Somali security by pursuing al Shabaab forces, as well as those that address international security objectives by targeting the sources of transnational terrorism and threats to international commerce.

This week, we released a project brief to outline the objectives of this study and discuss our planned methodology. The aim of this document is to provide a broad view of the project’s objectives and our propositions based on our initial research. These will inevitably evolve and be refined as the project advances. Over the coming months, CIC will conduct this research through interviews with key Somali and international actors, field research across a range of regions in Somalia, and document review.

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May 07, 2014
Thomas Zimmerman
Horn of Africa