There has been a rumor floating around for the past few weeks that Israel is interested in recognizing the Republic of Somaliland as a separate country. It would be a first for the country, as no other nation has yet to recognize the unilateral separation from its 1960 union with southern Somalia in 1991. All foreign aid, workers and other NGOs work in this region under the agreement that this is simply part of Somalia. The politics regarding international recognition are lengthy and complicated, but in short, several Arab countries are hesitant to recognize the country due to politics with Ethiopia, the African Union is hesitant to recognize Somaliland because it doesn’t want to set a precedent for other African countries to legally split and be recognized and the Western world has said it is hesitant to recognize Somaliland because the AU has not.
So, with all that in mind, I decided to write up a very short list of issues that arise as a citizen from a country that is internationally unrecognized.
*Your passport remains unrecognized by other countries, severely restricting your ability to travel outside your border. In the case of Somaliland, Ethiopia and Djibouti allow Somalilanders to travel through their respective countries, but they still do not recognize Somaliland as a separate country.
* Your high school or college diploma has the potential to remain unrecognized, meaning that your advanced education could be seen as meaningless to the outside world.
* Foreign aid is limited, and what little exists is directed to you under the conditions that your country belongs to a larger nation. This can severely stunt development. However, some have argued that because of Somaliland’s inability to be internationally reocognized and receive international loans, it has not fallen into the traps that other developing countries have. So, despite Somaliland’s status as a “poor” country, it does not carry the heavy debt that other countries in their continent do.
* Your country is not able to have separate representation at major international councils (UN, AU, etc.), resulting in obvious disadvantages for your country, in addition to its inability to speak on behalf of itself.
* Your currency is internationally unrecognized, obviously creating a host of additional issues.
I am sure there are many, many more points, so please feel free to leave comments about them. I always appreciate people sharing more about the effects of the lack of international recognition with me.