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Free Content Tillyan Footprints Beyond Europe: War-Making and State-Making in the Case of Somaliland

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While international recognition has been a long time coming, the Republic of Somaliland that “seceded” from Somalia on May 18, 1991 constitutes not only a de facto state, but also one of the rare cases of effective secession in sub-Saharan Africa. Close to two decades after declaring independence, Somaliland enjoys relative peace, stability and security, contrasting starkly to general developments in South-Central Somalia. Past attempts to explain this divergent outcome frequently focused on unequal colonial trajectories in North and South Somalia and their respective consequences on the traditional elders' (in)ability to negotiate peace and stability. This article casts a critical eye on such 'traditional peace' accounts, and advances an alternative “bellicose peace” argument in their stead. Investigating the explanatory power of the Tillyan “war makes states” dictum, it is suggested that Somaliland's project of state formation is—by and large—to be attributed to its particular experience of war. The proposition is advanced that Somaliland's violent liberation struggle was constitutive to its state-building project, as the anti-regime war brought about the foundation for a monopoly of violence, led to the state's economic self-reliance and accountability, and created key political institutions that survived the war and became important pillars of the new state thereafter. It is concluded that, while collective political violence is neither an angel of order nor a demon of decay, war can, under certain conditions, still be constitutive of state formation in today's world—as is shown by Somaliland.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2010

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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