Burao, Borama, and Sanaag Conferences

Rebuilding a country after conflict is about far more than repairing damaged buildings and re-establishing public institutions. Fundamentally, it is about rebuilding relationships at all levels, restoring the people’s trust and confidence in governance systems and the rule of law, and providing the population with greater hope for the future. These processes are all critical to the consolidation of peace and security in fragile post-conflict situations. When they are neglected, the threat of conflict re-emerging is very real. In this sense, state-building and peace-building are potentially contradictory processes – the former requiring the consolidation of governmental authority, the latter involving its moderation through compromise and consensus. The challenge for both national and international peacemakers is to situate reconciliation firmly within the context of state-building, while employing state-building as a platform for the development of mutual trust and lasting reconciliation. In the Somali region, neither of these processes can be possible without the broad and inclusive engagement of the Somali people.


On 18th May 1991 at this second national meeting, the SNM Central Committee, with the support of a meeting of elders representing the major clans in the Northern Regions, declared the restoration of the

Republic of Somaliland, covering the same area as that of the former British Protectorate4. The Burao conference also established a government for the Republic; an administration that inherited a war-ravaged country in which tens of thousands of people had been killed, many thousands injured, and the main cities, Hargeisa and Burao, almost entirely destroyed. The territory had been extensively mined, yet with the establishment of peace, hundreds of thousands of internally and externally displaced people were starting to return home. At the same time, thousands of clan-affiliated militia (both SNM and opposing clans) were rendered surplus to requirements, yet remained armed.

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