Constitution making and implementation in Somalia: Working with the Melbourne Somali Diaspora

In July 2012, the Provisional Constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia came into force. The Provisional Constitution was an interim settlement, which anticipated its own review and revision as the country developed its political institutions. In particular, the details of Somalia's federal structure were left to be elaborated as more Federal Member States were created. The Provisional Constitution anticipated that the revision process would be completed in time for the next federal elections, which were scheduled for late 2016. However, this deadline was not met and the process of constitutional revision is ongoing.

In 2018, in response to a request from a leading member of the Somali diaspora, Mr Mohamed Ibrahim, ConTransNet commenced a partnership with the Somali diaspora in Melbourne to support the Somalia constitution-making and constitutional implementation processes. The diaspora sought to draw on ConTransNet's deep comparative constitutional law expertise, with a particular focus on: (1) federalism (in particular, options for dividing power and = resource-sharing); (2) natural resource management in federal systems; and (3) government institutional structures in federal systems.

On 13 June 2018, ConTransNet hosted the First Somali Constitution Forum at Melbourne Law School. That Forum brought together a diverse group of approximately 20 influential members of the Somali diaspora to discuss key issues affecting Somalia’s ongoing constitution-making process, and federalism in particular . ConTransNet was very pleased to be able to share the expertise of Professor Cheryl Saunders an expert in comparative constitutional law and Professor Michael Crommelin, former Dean of Melbourne Law School and expert federalism and natural resource management. Feedback from participants was very positive, with videos of the presentations and discussions shared with a range of stakeholders in Somalia.

On 21 November 2018, ConTransNet hosted the Second Somali Constitution Forum at Melbourne Law School. The Forum again brought together members of the Somali diaspora in Melbourne, as well as a Somali Federal Member of the Somali Federal Parliament, the Hon Abdirahman Adam Ibrahim, and the Somalia National Director of ICTs, Mr Abdi Salam Mohamed. Participants again discussed a range of issues and options regarding Somalia's options for designing a federal structure suitable to the needs of the Somali people.

ConTransNet Resources on Federalism

  • "Constitutional Design: Options for Decentralizing Power"

    The functions of government that a state performs can be decentralized in various ways and to varying degrees. This Paper is divided into 3 parts, which together are intended to guide the reader in understanding the key building blocks involved in building a decentralized state and identifying the key design issues involved. The paper identifies 3 common models of decentralisation, using country case studies to explain the key design features of eeach model. This paper is part of CTN's Policy Paper Series.

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  • "Implementing Federalism"

    Federalism or devolution involves the organization of public power so that government, on at least two levels, is responsive and accountable to the people that it serves. More than 25 countries around the world operate as a federation of some kind. Many more devolve power in other ways, either across the country or in particular regions with special autonomy. This Constitutional INSIGHT explains why any change from a centralized to a federal or devolved system is a significant one. It also outlines some of the challenges that arise in the context of such change, and suggests options that might be available to meet them. This paper is part of the "Melbourne Forum Constitutional INSIGHTS" series that is a joint collaboration between CTN and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

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  • "Asymmetric territorial arrangements in decentralized systems"

    This Constitutional INSIGHT deals with the questions presented by constitutional or legal arrangements that treat one region of a state differently from others. Differential treatment of this kind is sometimes described as ‘asymmetry’. Asymmetry is a feature of constitutional arrangements in all parts of the world. Examples of asymmetry on which this
    INSIGHT draws include Jammu and Kashmir in India; Aceh in Indonesia; the Bangsamoro region in the Philippines; the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea; Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia; and the Oecusse in Timor-Leste.This paper is part of the "Melbourne Forum Constitutional INSIGHTS" series that is a joint collaboration between CTN and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

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