Forging Jubaland: Community perspectives on federalism, governance and reconciliation

In 2012 Somalia began a process of federalisation as a mechanism for statebuilding and ultimately stabilisation. Previous political processes have elicited limited success and have frequently been critiqued as elite-driven and divorced from popular needs. This research and its associated recommendations are an attempt to re-focus attention onto Somali citizens and elevate their governance and reconciliation needs within the current political and statebuilding processes.

The research showed that the creation of Jubaland has had a number of positive effects. It has added renewed urgency to the issue of political reconciliation and the resultant accommodation of various political stakeholders into a new regional government. Furthermore, service delivery and most notably security has improved in the period since the Interim Jubaland Administration’s inception, with those surveyed attributing responsibility to the new Administration. Despite these successes, there remain a number of challenges around democratisation and good governance, and a comprehensive approach is needed to address the issue of social reconciliation. The influence of the clan continues to be viewed as problematic, yet trust in non-clan-based governance is lacking. The challenge going forward will be how to marry the issues of political accommodation of elites and the associated stability this can confer, with the need for popular representation and good governance that meets community demands.

The report makes a number of key recommendations with a view to strengthening Jubaland’s future and supporting the constructive development of federalisation and statebuilding in Somalia more broadly. These include the following:

  • Democratic elections should be supported and conducted for the 2019 Jubaland appointment process.
  • A Jubaland development plan should be devised to ensure state-wide distribution of good services and resources.
  • Traditional justice mechanisms should be strengthened through recourse to formal state enforcement mechanisms such as courts and police.
  • Governance structures and appointment processes should be streamlined to improve efficiency and comprehension by citizens.
  • Civic engagement should be conducted around how non-clan-based governance could and should work.

In-depth research into and consensus building around future transitional justice mechanisms should start early to lay foundations for meaningful reconciliation of historical crimes.

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“Though imperfect, the beginnings of Jubaland have been positive. Optimism can be built upon, but the primary ingredient for success is ultimately the political will of the stakeholders involved.”

Joanne Crouch and Oliver Chevreau