How can civil society support reconciliations and civil engagement in Somalia?

Author: and
Key words: , , , , ,
Issue: Volume 13, Issue 2, 2019


This article explores the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in furthering bilateral attempts by Somali regimes and the international community in restoring peace and functional social institutions in Somalia. It highlights how an inclusive reconciliation process that covers social actors and stakeholders can repair the eroded trust and fosters peaceful coexistence. The core discourse focuses on the roles played by CSOs in the negotiation and bridging gaps between communities and the government through a fair and equitable non-partisan framework for restoring peace in Somalia. The emphasis will be placed on the sociocultural dynamics CSOs can bring within the context of the process to bridge social and political gaps created by decades of civil strife. The article concluded that a quest for sustainable peace, institutional development, and effective governance requires equitable contributions and representation of the CSOs and local communities’ stakeholders. Most efforts put forth by political elites in the government and the international community have faced lot of resistance because of competing interests. Therefore, it is of vital importance that political elites, community leaders, and regional bodies encourage the participation of Somali CSOs and stakeholders in all aspects of the post-conflict socio-economic and political reconstruction. The article suggests a new approach to redefine CSO roles in the reconciliation process and rehabilitation of sociopolitical and economic challenges posed by decades of the ongoing political and civil unrest in the country.

Full text

Permalink (doi)

Authors Affiliations

Farhia A. Abdi (1), Kon K Madut* (2)
1. Taos Institute, USA
2. University of Ottawa, Canada
* Corresponding author.


Anderson, D.M. and McKnight, J. (2015), “Understanding al-Shabaab: Clan, Islam, and insurgency in Kenya”, Journal of Eastern African Studies, vol. 9, no. 3, p. 536-557.
Adan, A.M. (2015), Clan politics in Somalia: Consequence of culture or colonial legacy, viewed 6 August 2019,
Abdi, F. (2014), Reconciliation and human security: Prospects of Somalia unity, viewed 15 December 2018,
Abdi, F. (2016), Somalia: The changing discourse and the need for reconciliation, viewed 14 December 2018,
Abdullahi, M.D. (2001). The culture, custom of Somalia. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.
Arman, A. (2005), Somalia, no political legitimacy without genuine reconciliation, viewed 14 December 2018,
Allan, A. (2000), “Truth and reconciliation: A psych legal perspective”, Ethnicity and Health, vol. 5, p. 191–204.
Brons, M. (2001), Society, security, sovereignty and the state in Somalia, Utrecht, International Books.
Brandon, H. (2003), “Does the truth heal? A psychological perspective on political strategies for dealing with the legacy of political violence”, in N. Biggar (ed.), Burying the Past. Making Peace and Doing Justice after Civil Conflict, Washington D.C., Georgetown University Press, p.152-167.
Bloomfield, D., Barnes, T. and Huyse, L. (2003), Reconciliation after violent conflict, Stockholm, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
Brounéus, K. (2003), Reconciliation – Theory and practice for development cooperation, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
Crocker, C.A. (1995), “The Lessons of Somalia—Not Everything Went Wrong”, Foreign Affairs, vol. 74, no. 2.
Cohen, J. and Arato, A. (1994). Civil society and political theory, Boston, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
EU (2012), Strengthening civil society in Somalia, viewed 13 December 2018,
Fein, H. (1999), “Testing theories brutally: Armenia (1915), Bosnia (1992) and Rwanda (1994)” in L. Chorbajian and G. Shirinian (eds) Studies in comparative genocide, London, Macmillan, p. 157–64.
Gonnelli, M. (2013), Clan and state politics – Intro, viewed 17 December 2018,
Gleditsch, N., Wallensteen, P., Eriksson, M., Sollenberg, M. and Strand, H. (2002), “Armed conflict 1946-2001: A new dataset”, Journal of Peace Research, vol. 39, no. 5, p. 615–37.
Hale, H. (2004), “Divided we stand: Institutional sources of ethno-federal state survival and collapse”, World Politics, vol. 56, p. 165-93.
Huyse, L. (2005), “Reconciliation: Theory and practice” in G. Kelly and B. Hamber (eds), Reconciliation: Rhetoric or Relevant?, Belfast, Democratic Dialogue, p.7-13.
Hororwitz, D.L. (2002), “Constitutional design: Proposals versus processes” in A. Reynolds (ed), The architecture of democracy: Constitutional design, conflict management, and democracy, New York, Oxford University Press, p.45 -50.
Harvey, P. (1998), “Rehabilitation in complex political emergencies: Is rebuilding civil society the answer?”, Disasters, vol. 22, no. 3, p. 200-217.
Hutchinson, J. and Smith A.D. (1996), Ethnicity, New York, Oxford University Press.
Ismail, A.A. (2010), Somali state failure players, incentives, and institutions, viewed 17 December 2018,
Issa, S. (1994), The collapse of the Somali state: The impact of the colonial legacy, London, HAAN Publishing.
IDEA (2003), Reconciliation after violent conflict, viewed 17 December 2018,
Kaunain R. (2017), Somalia: Overview of corruption and anti-corruption, viewed 14 December 2018,
Laitin, D. and Samatar, S. (1987), Somalia: Nation in search of a state, London, Westview Press Inc.
Lederach, J.P. (1997), Building peace: Sustainable reconciliation in divided societies, Washington D.C., United States Institute of Peace.
Lewis, M.I. (1987), A modern history of Somalis: Nation and state in the Horn of Africa, London, Westview Press.
Lewis. M.I. (1994), Blood and bone: The call of kinship in Somali Society, Lawrenceville, NJ, The Red Sea Press.
Loizides, N., Kovras, I. and Ireton, K. (2010), “Introduction: Federalism, reconciliation, and power-sharing in post-conflict societies”, Federal Governance, vol. 8, no. 2, p. 1-14.
Paffenholz, T. (2009), Civil society and peacebuilding (No. BOOK), Geneva, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.
Paffenholz, T. and Spurk, C. (2006), Civil society, civic engagement, and peacebuilding. Conflict Prevention & Reconstruction, Paper No. 36, viewed 20 December 2018,
Madut, K. (2017), “Spatiality of ethnic identity and construction of sociopolitical interaction in South Sudan”, Human Geographies – Journal of Studies and Research in Human Geography, vol. 11, no. 2, p. 181-195.
Mamdani, M. (2018), Citizen and subject: Contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism, Princeton, Princeton University Press.
Murithi, T. (2016), People-to-people regional reconciliation in the Horn of Africa, viewed 12 December,
Musau, S. (2013), Clans’ and clannism’s control over weak political institutions, viewed 17 December 2018,
Menkhaus, K. (2007), “Governance without government in Somalia: Spoilers, state building, and the politics of coping”, International Security, vol. 31, no. 3, p. 74-106.
Miguel, E. (2004), “Tribe or nation? Nation building and public goods in Kenya versus Tanzania”, World Politics, vol. 56, p. 327-62.
Menkhaus, K. (2003), “State collapse in Somalia: Second thoughts”, Review of African Political Economy, vol. 97, p. 405-422.
Samatar, A. and Samatar, I. (2008), “Somali reconciliation: Editorial note”, Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies, vol. 3, no. 4.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015), Honouring the Truth, reconciling for the future, viewed 20 December 2018,
UNHCR (2017), Somali situation, viewed 14 December 2018,
USAID (2005), Increased development of a politically active civil society, viewed 14 December 2018,

This post has already been read 2724 times!

About journal

Title: Human Geographies - Journal of Studies and Research in Human Geography
ISSN online: 2067-2284
ISSN print: 1843-6587
Imprint: University of Bucharest
Frequency: Biannual (May&November)
First volume: 1/2007
Current volume: 17/2023
Language: English
Indexed in: SCOPUS, ERIH PLUS, EBSCO (SocINDEX), ProQuest (Social Science Journals, SciTech Journals, Natural Science Journals), Index Copernicus, National Technical Information Service (NTiS), Bodleian Libraries, ExLibris SFX, DOAJ, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library, Google Scholar, Ulrich
Creative Commons License


Prof. dr. Liliana Dumitrache
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Daniela Dumbrăveanu
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Mariana Nae
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Gabriel Simion
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

SCImago Journal & Country Rank