SOMALILAND & SOMALIA: THE 1960 ACT OF UNION – An early lesson for Somaliland
LAW OF UNION BETWEEN SOMALILAND AND
Prior to attaining
independence on 26 June 1960, Somaliland was very much interested in pursuing
the dream of a Greater
What happened instead was that on the morning 1st July 1960, the members of the Somaliland Legislative and those of the Somalia Legislative met in a joint session and the Constitution which was drafted in Somalia was accepted on the basis of an acclamation, with no discussion and a Provisional President was elected. This step was taken whilst relying on an additional clause inserted on 18 June 1960 in the draft Constitution to the effect that
“immediately after the signing the Act of Union of the
Presaging what was to happen again and again in the relationship between Somaliland and Somalia, the newly elected provisional President than issued on the same day a decree law aiming to formalise the union, but even that was never converted to Law as presidential decree laws always required to be presented to the National Assembly for conversion into Law under Article 63(3) of the new Constitution within five days of their publication, otherwise they “shall cease to have effect ab initio” i.e from their date of issue. In any case, the reality was that there were two different versions of the same “law”.
Thus, although the clear plan and agreement between Somaliland and Somalia was that the same Act of Union will be signed by both states, the legal formalities, as agreed, were not completed properly and, according to Contini,
the Union of Somaliland and
Cotran [(1968)12 ICLQ 1010] comments that the legal validity of the legislative instruments establishing the union were “questionable” and he summarises the reasons as follows:
“a) The Union of Somaliland and Somalia Law, and the Somalia Act of Union were both drafted in the form of bilateral agreements, but neither of them was signed by the representatives of the two territories.
b) The Union of Somaliland
d) The decree law of July 1, 1960, did not come into effect since it was not converted into law in accordance with the Constitution.”
It was only on 18 January 1961 when a new Act of
This was a clear indication that Somaliland was an independent state with a Government of its own, however short that period was, and under Article 11(4) of the 1961 Act of Union, it was confirmed that
“all rights lawfully vested in or obligations lawfully incurred by the independent Governments of Somaliland and Somalia … shall be deemed to have been transferred to and accepted by the Somali Republic upon its establishment”.
What this confirms again is that there was a union
of two states, but more importantly, that Somaliland was an independent state
before the union and has entered into treaties with
Finally, no one is contesting that the independent State of Somaliland and its people sought to unite with Somalia on 1 July 1960, and Somalilanders are still counting the cost of that precipitate decision, But the issue is that the way the legal formalities of this voluntary union were dealt with and how the Constitution was drafted for Somalia (and not Somaliland) were early harbingers of the tragedy that was to follow, because later even the Act of Union formula of a Republic Legislative consisting of the Somaliland Legislative Assembly (of 33) and Somalia’s Legislative Assembly (of 90) was jettisoned a few years later.
LAW OF UNION BETWEEN SOMALILAND AND
Whereas the State of Somaliland achieved
independence and ceased to be under British protection or within the
jurisdiction and sovereignty of Her Britannic Majesty on the 26th day of
June, 1960, being Muharram 1st 1379, and Whereas the State of Somalia
achieved its independence and ceased to have the status of a Trust Territory of
the United Nations Organisation administered by the Republic of
Italy on the 1st day of July, 1960, being Muharram 6th 1379, and Whereas
it is the will of the peoples of Somaliland and Somalia that their
States shall unite and shall forever be united in the
Now we the signatories hereof being the duly authorized representatives of the peoples of Somaliland and Somalia and having vested in us the power to make and enter into this Law of Union on behalf of our respective States and peoples do hereby solemnly and in the name of God the Compassionate and Merciful agree as follows:
The State of Somaliland and the
State of Somalia do hereby unite and shall forever remain united in a new,
independent, democratic, unitary republic the name whereof shall be the
(b) The Capital of the
to the express provisions of this Act of Union the Union hereby constituted
shall be upon the following conditions:
(1) That the component administrative units of the government of the Somali Republic until more suitable administrative arrangements are made, shall be firstly the region comprising the territories contained in the boundaries of the presently existing State of Somaliland [hereinafter referred to as the Northern Region] and secondly those presently existing territories which comprise the six Regions of Mijertein, Mudugh, Hiran, Benadir, Upper Juba and Lower Juba all in Somalia (hereinafter collectively referred to as the second-named Regions).
(2) That the existing laws presently in force in the Northern Region and in the second-named Regions respectively shall remain in full force and effect within the respective territories where the same presently apply and shall not have force or effect beyond those respective territories where the same presently apply.
(3) That all persons now serving the Somaliland Government in the Northern Region and the Government of Somalia in the second-named Regions respectively shall continue to serve the Government of the Somali Republic upon terms not less favourable than those at present applicable to them.
(4) That the Courts as presently constituted in the aforesaid Northern Region and the aforesaid second-named Regions shall continue to exercise within their respective territories the jurisdiction which is conferred upon them by presently existing law and shall be Courts of the Somali nation;
(5) That all rights and obligations vested or accruing, whether public or private (including any status of legal personality acquired under law by corporate or non-corporate bodies) shall continue to subsist in accordance with sub-clause (2) hereof, be recognised and enforced by the Courts of the Somali Republic referred to in sub-clause (4) hereof and by the Government in the Somali Republic.
(6) That in the
All persons who upon the date of
this Union possess the citizenship of Somaliland and
(2) All persons who hereafter would, but for this Union, have become citizens of Somaliland or
Head of State of the Somali Republic shall be the President of the Republic
chosen in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution referred to in
Article 7 hereof.
Executive Authority of the Somali Republic shall be vested in the Council of
Ministers appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution
referred to in Article 7 hereof and shall be exercised as therein provided.
legislative power of the Somali Republic shall be vested in the National
Assembly constituted in accordance with the provisions of the
Constitution referred to in Article 7 hereof and shall be exercised as therein
7. The Constitution of the Somali Republic shall be the Constitution of the State of Somalia with such adaptations as may be necessary to bring it into conformity with this Act of Union but notwithstanding the provisions thereof relating to amendment, no amendment of that Constitution shall derogate from the conditions of Union set forth in clause 2 hereof unless made in accordance with the procedure and provisions set forth in clause 10 hereof.
Upon this Act being made the
presently subsisting Legislative Assemblies of Somaliland and
The existing President or
Vice-President of the Legislative
Assembly of Somalia shall preside over the National Assembly of the
members of the Council of Ministers after being appointed in accordance with
the Constitution shall each make an oath of allegiance to the
Notwithstanding anything in clause
2 hereof, the citizens of the
Notwithstanding anything in clause
2 hereof there shall be no customs, excise or other tax imposed upon the
movement of goods (including animals) between any parts of the territory
unification of customs tariffs is achieved, goods imported from foreign
countries, land moving from the Northern Region to the second-named Regions and
vice versa shall be subject to the customs laws at present in force: in the
Northern Region and the second-named Regions.
There shall he established a
Special Commission the members of which shall be persons who were
immediately prior to this Act of Union either members of the Legislative
Assembly of Somalia or members of the Legislative Assembly of Somaliland
together with a Chairmen being a member of the National Assembly a
pointed by the members of the
(2) The members of the Special Commission (other than the Chairman) shall be appointed by the President of the Somali Republic acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers and shall consist of an equal number of former members of the Legislative Assembly of Somalia and former members of the legislative Assembly of Somaliland.
The Special Commission shall
examine into and make recommendations (which in the event of the Commission not
being unanimous shall be the recommendations of a majority of its members to
which a minority report shall be attached) as to the provisions to be made from
time to time by law for the purpose of establishing uniformity between the laws,
institutions, public services and social services presently existing in
the regions referred to in clause 2 (1) hereof.
(4) The Special Commission shall for the aforesaid purposes be empowered to establish sub-commissions or committees, the members whereof may include other persons, and to engage or call for assistance from any person by way of advice or otherwise.
A Special Commission shall from
time to time report to the Council of Ministers as to its recommendations
under sub-clause (3) of this Clause and the Council of Ministers shall
thereupon with all reasonable dispatch lay such report before the National
Assembly together with the proposed legislation to be made to give effect
(6) The National Assembly shall thereupon decide by a majority of the members thereof present and voting upon such proposed legislation whether the same shall be enacted.
(7) Upon the National Assembly so deciding then the President shall assent to such legislation and upon the same coming into operation any condition set forth in clause 2 hereof shall so far as it is inconsistent with such legislation be abrogated.
Special Commission may with the approval of the Council of Ministers make
rules regulating its procedure and
providing for the duration of the appointments of its members, the remuneration of any persons whose participation or assistance is called for under sub-clause (3) hereof, the filling of vacancies in membership and all other matters as may be required for the performance of the functions conferred upon the Special Commission by this clause: Provided that if the Special Commission fails to make rules under this sub-clause in accordance with a request made to it by the Council of Ministers, the Council of Ministers may make the said rules.
Any rules made under sub-clause (8)
may be added to, amended or revoked in the same manner.
Any property (including any rights
arising from contracts or otherwise) that is immediately before this Act
of Union vested in the Government of Somaliland or in the State of Somalia
shall upon this Act being made vest in the Somali Republic or In any such
person or authority on behalf of the Somali Republic as the Council of
Ministers may direct.
(2) Any liabilities or obligation (whether arising from contract or otherwise) incurred by the Government of Somaliland or by the State of Somalia and subsisting immediately before this Act of Union shall upon this Act of Union being made be a liability or obligation of the Somali Republic or of such person or authority on behalf of the Somali Republic as the Council of Ministers may direct.
(3) For the purposes of the preceding sub-clause, any property which immediately before the making of this Act of Union was vested in, or any liability or obligation which at that time had been incurred by, any person or authority on behalf of the Government of Somaliland the State of Somalia shall be deemed to be property vested in or a liability or obligation incurred by the respective Government or State.
Without derogation from the
foregoing provisions of this Clause the rights and obligations arising
from agreements entered into - between the Government of Somaliland and
the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
and between the Government of Somalia and the Government of Italy and other
States and International Organisations which are set out in the Schedule (2) to
this Act shall be binding upon the Somali Republic.
For the time being the provision
subsisting immediately before the making of this Act of Union for the
expenditure of public monies of the Somali Republic hereby constituted
within and upon the Northern Region and the second-named Regions shall as far
as practicable continue to the intent that those monies which have been
authorised to be expended within and upon the respective Northern Region and
second- named Regions shall continue to be expended upon the public service and
upon the development and welfare and in the service of the said Northern
Region and the second- named Regions and the inhabitants thereof
(2) For the time being the presently subsisting provision for the expenditure of public monies (including such monies as may be provided by way of assistance from foreign States) upon the development and welfare of the aforesaid Northern Region and second-named Regions and the inhabitants thereof respectively shall as far as practicable continue to the intent that those schemes of development and welfare which are now current shall be completed and that those schemes of development and welfare which have been planned shall be proceeded with within the respective Northern Region and second-named Regions hereinbefore referred to and for the benefit of their respective inhabitants.
Supreme Court of the
now constituted and which will continue to subsist in the aforesaid Northern Region.