Somaliland SDG16+ Progress Report

Despite the government of Somaliland not taking part in the negotiation process that led to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it has proactively engaged on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has endorsed the SDGs and included them in its national development framework, the National Development Plan II (NDPII), as an expression of the commitment to the agenda.

The Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG) in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) acts as the Secretariat for the SDGs, providing substantive support and capacity-building for the goals and their related thematic issues, including water, energy, climate, oceans, urbanization, transport, science and technology, the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), partnerships and Small Island Developing States. DSDG plays a key role in the evaluation of UN system wide implementation of the 2030 Agenda and on advocacy and outreach activities relating to the SDGs.

Since Somaliland is not a member of the UN1, the current follow-up and review mechanism –the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) does not offer an opportunity for the government to report on its progress in implementing the SDGs. Given the centrality of the ‘leave no one behind’ agenda, Somaliland, regardless of political status, should not be excluded when it comes to the SDGs. To ensure that Somaliland’s efforts to implement the SDGs is shared with the rest of the world, civil society has decided to fill the gap – and report on the process and progress on SDG16+ implementation in Somaliland.

The Somaliland SDG16+ Coalition is composed of the Horn of Africa – Center for Policy Analysis (CPA), the Somaliland Human Rights Center (HRC), the Network against FGM in Somaliland (NAFIS), Saferworld, the Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), and the Somaliland National Youth Umbrella (SONYO).

This is an independent progress report that is produced and owned by the Somaliland SDG16+ Coalition – a group of civil society organizations working to implement SDG16+ in all regions of Somaliland.2 The report itself is a result of an inclusive and comprehensive consultation process involving civil society and relevant government organs and departments. The purpose is to outline the progress that has been made, existing gaps and to provide recommendations to sustain progress and fill gaps.

The focus for the progress report comes from SDG16+ consultation workshops, which were held in 2017 and 2018 across Somaliland. A total of 55 civil society organizations were consulted during this progress–representing a range of different groups including women’s groups, youth groups, minority rights, and disability rights groups. In these consultations, the following three targets were selected for the short term and long-term SDG16+ priorities:

  • SDG 5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life
  • SDG 5.3: Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
  • SDG 16.3: Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all
  • SDG 16.5: Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms
  • SDG 16.10: Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements
  • SDG 16.6: Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels

In February 2019, civil society organizations decided which of these SDG16+ targets and indicators to be used in the progress report – and decided the report to cover SDG 16.3, SDG 16.10, SDG 5.5, and SDG 5.3. Hereafter, a data gathering process was carried out in which civil society organizations, UN agencies, international NGOs and various government departments were involved. Both primary data and secondary data were collected in the process. The relevant government agencies were targeted in the data gathering process to find out the official data. Also, data from civil society organizations, international organizations and UN agencies were gathered.

The track record on reporting

Somaliland has never reported to the UN HLPF because of its political status as an unrecognised state. Nevertheless, it has endorsed the SDGs and included in its national development framework, the NDPII. Civil society has a key role in serving as an intermediary to sketch the progress made by Somaliland and remaining gaps in order to link the local communities to global forums and discussions. While there have not been any civil society formal inputs to the HLPF, this is not the first time Somaliland civil society has reported to an international forum. In 2015, civil society of Somaliland prepared and submitted a shadow report of the Universal Periodic Report (UPR) to the UN Human Rights Council. The UPR civil society report was based on consultation process with 40 organizations located in all the six regions of Somaliland. After the report was submitted, civil society held a workshop with the government officials to introduce and share with the report recommendations. The government welcomed the recommendations and the process, which enabled Somaliland’s issues to be tabled in an international forum. This SDG16+ progress report is being built on the experience gained from the UPR as well as the coordination and cooperation mechanism utilized during the drafting and preparation of the UPR report in 2015.

Prison population in Somaliland in 2018

Somaliland has 14 prisons. The number of the prison population was 2,402 prisoners in 2017. In 2018, the prison population is 3,753. The largest prisons are Hargeisa Central Prison and Mandheera Prison, which is located northeast of Hargeisa. Relevant authorities have not provided a segregated data on the un-sentenced detainees. In many cities including Hargeisa, the capital and the most populous city, un-sentenced detainees are held in police stations. The police reported on 3 November 2018 that 1,700 criminal cases were pending before the courts. At least one accused person is involved in every case. In the 2018 police report, unfinished criminal cases represented 9% of the total cases.

In 2018 annual report of the Police published in 3 November, the Police stated that 19, 664 occurrences of criminal cases were reported to the police across the country. Only 28% were brought to court. More than half of these criminal cases were pending at the time of the report. According to the report, 44% were resolved outside of the court system and have not proceeded to formal court. These cases were resolved through settlements reached by involved parties using customary law and other informal conflict resolution mechanisms. There is no record of how outside court conflict resolution involved reported criminal cases were handled nor the nature of these cases.

In 2018, the courts of Somaliland received 9037 civil cases and 6371 criminal cases. This makes 15, 408. At least two people are involved in every case, meaning more than 30, 000 people sought justice from the courts in 2018. To expand the judiciary activities to those who are not resident in proximate to court infrastructures, courts moved in a process called mobile courts. Mobile courts are not special courts, but sometimes judges hearing cases travel to villages, rural areas and prisons located outside of cities to hear cases. In 2018, the mobile courts have received 725 criminal cases and 561 civil cases. The parties involved in these cases were 2831 people.

Open and free media is imperative for any democratic society to thrive and attain sustainable development. Somaliland’s constitution enshrines the freedom of the press as an essential part of the country’s democracy. The government of Somaliland represented by the Ministry of Information and media professional organizations and civil society organizations are working towards drafting a legislation applicable to the media. The government budget does not include support for the protection and training of journalists. International and national nongovernment organizations are engaged in giving short-term training.  But, in 2017, the first journalism faculty has been opened by the University of Hargeisa in collaboration with the journalist’s association and a donor. The report acknowledges that it has become difficult to report the accessibility of the public to information. The next report will cover the statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information. In the data gathering for this target, nongovernmental organizations, government departments and the judiciary were focused to find out information. The following international non-governmental organizations and UN agencies were contacted and asked to provide data and information regarding this target and their field of work: Horizon, UNSOM and UNDP.

The Constitution of Somaliland and the Press Act (2004) guarantee and protect freedom of media. A process of drafting a comprehensive media act has been carried out in 2018 to amend the Press Act. Consultation workshops were held in Hargeisa for different stakeholders. The draft media law covers a wide range of media issues and is intended to resolve media and government frictions. The University of Hargeisa opened the first journalism degree in Somaliland to contribute improvement of media professionalism and ethics.


This progress report by Somaliland SDG16+ Coalition demonstrates that Somaliland has made laudable achievements despite big challenges in capacity and resources to implement the ambitious 2030 Agenda. If the challenges and gaps outlined in this report are addressed and critical factors that are key for success are utilized, Somaliland can make a further and steadfast progress. But this will require cohesive and transparent cooperation and concrete commitment and willingness from all stakeholders. The National Development Plan II of Somaliland recognizes and endorses some SDG16+ targets, and the government has expressed willingness to work towards accepting and contextualizing the SDGs. Although the NDP II is not a replica of the SDGs, Somaliland is ahead of many countries in linking its development plan with the 2030 Agenda. Civil society organizations have played a vital role in localizing SDDG16+ and carrying out inclusive initiatives to identify priorities and bring together stakeholders to cooperate in realizing SDG16+. They have worked to increase the awareness among the public and decision makers around SDG16+ issues, in both local and international platforms. A localization process has taken a particular route that could help other countries’ localisation processes. The realization of the SDGs will require consistent and better strategized funding from the government and other sources including donors and the private sector. There is a funding gap that is hindering attaining marked goals. Existing limited funding sources are not well coordinated and are rarely allocated on the basis of SDGs targets. There is a need to support the strengthening of the capacity of government agencies and civil society organizations tasked with implementing and monitoring the SDGs. The government of Somaliland lacks a real mechanism to report to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). Institutions are challenged by absence of reliable data and lack of data sharing when there is a data. Data sharing mechanisms within government institutions and between the government and the civil society is very weak. Existing civil society data is not used for official monitoring.


The government, national civil society, international organizations and UN agencies have different roles to play in implementing SDG16+. A thorough understanding is needed of what interventions are taking place in Somaliland to contribute to the achievement of SDG16+. Ensuring that these efforts are then further coordinated will be an important factor for success in the coming years. It is also essential to cooperate and share data. The Ministry of Development and National Planning (MoNPD) should mandate provision of data collected by INGOs and Local NGOs and strengthen the capacity of its Statistics Department. The MoNPD should make data available for the public, and the Parliament should enact Right to Information Act. Civil society organizations (CSOs), international organizations and UN agencies should support and capacitate the Statistics Department and other government agencies and include SDG16+ priorities in Somaliland into their strategic plans and activities. UN agencies should be transparent in providing data for the programs and budgets implemented in the country with disaggregated per region to build on achievements made and to be monitored, and provide support SDG16+ localization process.

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