The Peaceful Transfer of Power and The Rule of Law – Somalia as a Model

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Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Towards A Culture of The Rule of Law
October 20, 2021, 1
Towards A Culture of Rule of Law:
The Peaceful Transfer of Power and The Rule of Law – Somalia as a Model
After a taste of victory in the maritime dispute issue, Somalia is in dire need of a culture of rule
of law. In practice, the concept of “the rule of law” provides the conceptual framework for
developing a culture of the rule of law to serve as a practical guide for dealing effectively with
social problems and provides challenges of justice and security. The political presence in
Somalia has been on a fine line in the past three decades after the collapse of the state structure
and the subsequent establishment of the local and regional system of government. The political
system in Somalia is facing a state of uncertainty, especially as the election date approaches,
which is putting the country’s democracy system on the edge of the abyss. Existing weak public
institutions threaten the country’s political stability and endanger the relative peace and unity of a
country that is threatened by continued disintegration. Recurring events make peaceful elections
and the subsequent transfer of power indispensable tasks due to the country’s lack of a rule of
law culture.
In the absence of the rule of law culture in the society, the state is confronted with leadership
challenges and an ineffective system of governance that cannot provide modest levels of development
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Towards A Culture of The Rule of Law
October 20, 2021 2
and security. The rule of law culture helps to promote and strengthen state institutions to ensure
general obedience to principles guiding the working of the society. Institutionalizing the rule of
law culture in society will compel the people to obey civil laws, check human rights abuses,
security, and ensure good governance. However, “the law” in the phrase “rule of law” means
different things to different people, depending on where they are or what they perceive themselves
to be within society. Thus, the concept of the rule of law culture is interpreted differently by people
according to their understanding of the subject matter. For instance, an educated person living
urban setting may see state law differently from a local man living in a rural area.
In modern times, Somalia is still struggling to establish the rule of law culture in its civil space
after overcoming the most challenging period in the country political history in the 1990s and early
2000s. The governmental institutions established to implement and enforce the rule of law culture
in the country have failed to meet expectations. The failure of every organ of government is
responsible for the country present unfolding political drama, with each group holding claim to
not existing law to justify their public actions. The lack of the rule of law culture in Somalia has
made the conduct of elections and subsequent transfer of power in the country cumbersome and
challenging, which always generates fears and tension in the society. The absence of the rule of
law culture results in anarchy. Somalia is on the brink of relapsing to that ignoble past of
lawlessness in the country when no recognized government controls the system.
Somalia needs to shift towards the entrenchment of the rule of law culture in the society, a specific
model to reverse the existing culture of impunity and disorderliness that has saturated the country
and plunged it into political instability, massive corruption, abuse of political power, internal
wrangling, frequent droughts, unemployment, rampant inflation, and humanitarian crises. Lack of
the rule of law culture in any society allows tyrant to assume a position of authority and operate
freely in government, as witnessed in Somalia in the 1990s. When key actors in the political space
shift over time as they accrue resources and investments, transforming “from warlord to landlord,”
which gives them more significant stakes in governance and security, not necessarily in-state interests.
However, Somalia needs to develop an acceptable modified state model of the rule of law culture as
a template to operate on and helps the country negotiates its civil and political affairs based on the
existence of strong state institutions to ensure the rule of law culture. Adherence to the rule of law
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Towards A Culture of The Rule of Law
October 20, 2021 3
culture will strengthen the current weak state structure and remove contradicting laws that are highly
confusing and contentious. Society established on the rule of law culture ensures all persons, state
institutions, and organizations are accountable to laws that are: enacted and generally publicized as laws
of the land. In the contemporary arrangement, Somalia cannot continue to operate on opportunity and risk
whenever election approaches, with doubt whether power will be transfer or not to the winner of the election.
The task towards promoting the rule of law culture in Somalia requires a wide-reaching decision
involving all stakeholders, the political leaders, and the Somalis people on the need for reformation
and harmonization of Somalia existing law in the land. Having an acceptable legal model in place
that is of international standard to differentiate formal and informal legal systems, including past
state laws, customary clan law, and shari’a, is the right path to creating the rule of law culture in a
society like Somalia. Furthermore, the current election crisis could have easily been avoided if
there were solid institutions to ensure the rule of law takes preeminence above one person’s interest
and ambition. Since the rule of law and human rights are the core doctrine of democracy, which
advocates the rule of the majority, the preservation and protection of the rights of the minority in
a political system.
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Towards A Culture of The Rule of Law
October 20, 2021 4
The logic behind the rule of law culture in a society is that people rights are protected, no
discrimination, and there is provision to seek redress whenever anyone rights are violated. On the
contrary, the lack of the rule of law is a major cause of abuse of power, instability, chaos, and
underdevelopment. Somalia needs a well-defined state refined law system that will serve as a
model to promote and create awareness about the acceptable rule of law culture as the rostrum
society stands and functions to resolve internal problems, especially elections-related matters and
other civil cases. Concluding with the famous quote of J.F. Kennedy in 1962, in his words, “Those
who make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violence revolution inevitable”. Somalia
needs a culture of the rule of law to ensure a peaceful transfer of power from one government to
another after the election’s winner is declared.
Resources
1-Kennedy, J.F. (1962). Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution
inevitable. The Tribune Newspaper, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/thought-for-theday/
those-who-make-peaceful-revolution-impossible-make-violent-revolution-inevitable-
%E2%80%94-john-f-kennedy-279777
2-Menkhaus, K. (2006). Governance without Government in Somalia Spoilers, State Building,
and the Politics of Coping. International Security, 31(3), 74–106.
3-Le Sage, A. (2005). Stateless Justice in Somalia Formal and Informal Rule of Law Initiatives.
Report July, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/20303/Somalia_stateless_justice.pdf
4-Mckay, L. (2015). Towards a Rule of Law Culture; Practical Guide. United States Institute of
Peace Washington, D.C. https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/Toward-a-Rule-of-Law-
Culture_Practical-Guide_0.pdf
5-Stremlau, N. (2019). Governance without Government in the Somali Territories. Jan. Colombia
SIPA, Journal of International Affairs. https://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/governance-withoutgovernment-
Somali-territories
6-Somalia’s security situation in crisis amid political uncertainty, March 2021.
https://www.dw.com/en/somalias-security-situation-in-crisis-amid-political-uncertainty/a-
56828825

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