Is Somalia a failed state? There has been continued violence and lawlessness in Somalia since 1991. Now, the UN warns that the security situation is worsening. In this seminar Professor Abdi I. Samatar, University of Minnesota explores the lack of unity and the country´s complicated clan system from which more than 20 different militias have emanated and struggle in Somalia. Where can Somalia go from here and how can the country be rebuild?

Somalia has been stateless for nearly twenty three years. Two competing explanations have been put forward to elucidate the nature and the causes of this political catastrophe. These scenarios have proposed contrasting fixes for the nation's political calamity. 

Currently the dominant thesis is supported by most members of the international community and sectarian elements of the "Somali political elite". The core value of this way of seeing the Somali world is the genealogical difference between communities and individuals. Those who advocate this approach claim that the country's tradition- ala genealogy- was marginalized by the political establishment during the post-colonial era.

The consequence of the neglect of such a tradition has been the political calamity that has befallen on the country. They advance that integrating Somalias' genealogical difference into the political order is the only way out of the catastrophe. These actors have developed a tribal based political formula which has guided recent developments in the country. The imagined end product of this process is a federal system based on tribal affiliation.

The alternative to this school of thought and practice is one premised on shared values among the Somali people and a common citizenship based on equal justice. Here the claim is that when the country pursued this agenda justice and peace prevailed in the country during the democratic decade. Advocates of this way of seeing the Somali world warn that a tribal based federal political project for the country would institutionalize conflict and would disable the Somali people for decades to come. A more fitting resolution to the political crisis is to go back to what worked for the Somali people and use that successful local experience to re-build a democratic order accountable to the people.

In his research, Professor Abdi I. Samatar focuses on the relationship between democracy and development in the Third World in general and Africa in particular, on how national public institutions enable people in develping countries tap opportunity in the global capitalist economy and avoid its cruel traps. He is intrested in the link between democratic leadership, public institutions, and development in East and South Africa. Other research themes include Islam, social capital and ethnicity in the Horn of Africa, and environment and development. 

Free and open for all.