Somalia–United Kingdom relations

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Somalia–United Kingdom relations
Map indicating locations of Somalia and United Kingdom


United Kingdom

Somalia–United Kingdom relations are bilateral relations between Somalia and the United Kingdom.


Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, President of the autonomous Somaliland region in northwestern Somalia, speaking at a Chatham House event (November 2010).

Relations between the territories of presente-night Somalia and the United Kingdom date back to the 19th century. In 1884, Britain established the British Somaliland protectorate in northern Somalia after signing successive treaties with the then ruling Somali Sultans, such as Mohamoud Ali Shire of the Warsangali Sultanate.[1] In 1900, the Somali religious leader Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan ("Mad Mullah")'s Dervish forces began a twenty-year resistance movement against British troops. This military campaign eventually came to an end in 1920, after Britain aerially bombarded the Dervish capital of Taleh. Following World War II, Britain retained control of both British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland as protectorates. In 1945, during the Potsdam Conference, the United Nations granted Italy trusteeship of Italian Somaliland, but only under close supervision and on the condition—first proposed by the Somali Youth League (SYL) and other nascent Somali political organizations, such as Hizbia Digil Mirifle Somali (HDMS) and the Somali National League (SNL)—that Somalia achieve independence within ten years.[2][3] British Somaliland remained a protectorate of Britain until 1960.[4]

In 1948, under pressure from their World War II allies and to the dismay of the Somalis,[5] the British "returned" the Haud (an important Somali grazing area that was presumably 'protected' by British treaties with the Somalis in 1884 and 1886) and the Ogaden to Ethiopia, based on a treaty they signed in 1897 in which the British ceded Somali territory to the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik in exchange for his help against raids by Somali clans.[6] Britain included the proviso that the Somali residents would retain their autonomy, but Ethiopia immediately claimed sovereignty over the area.[2] This prompted an unsuccessful bid by Britain in 1956 to buy back the Somali lands it had turned over.[2] Britain also granted administration of the almost exclusively Somali-inhabited Northern Frontier District (NFD) to Kenyan nationalists despite an informal plebiscite demonstrating the overwhelming desire of the region's population to join the newly formed Somali Republic.[7][8]

A year after the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in 2012, the United Kingdom became the first Western country to re-open its embassy in the country since 1991.

On 1 July 1960, the former British Somaliland and the Trust Territory of Somaliland (the former Italian Somaliland) united as scheduled to form the Somali Republic (Somalia).[9][10] Between 1963 and 1968, the Somali government severed diplomatic ties with the UK authorities over the Northern Frontier District issue.[11] It later reestablished relations following the rise to power of the Supreme Revolutionary Council in 1969.

After the collapse of the Somali central government and the start of the civil war in 1991, the UK embassy in Mogadishu closed down.[12] In the ensuing period, the British government maintained diplomatic ties with the newly formed Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government. It also engaged Somalia's smaller regional administrations, such as Puntland and Somaliland, to ensure broad-based inclusion in the peace process. In 2012, the British authorities additionally organized the London Conference on Somalia to coordinate the international community's support for the interim Somali government.

Following the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2012, the British authorities re-affirmed the UK's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty.[13]

On the 23rd of March 2017 UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson chaired a council meeting on the humanitarian and political situation in the Horn of Africa nation in the face of upcoming famine concerns. A week before this Johnson visited Mogadishu to Salk with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed about a strategy to avert any crisis.[14]

Diplomatic missions[edit]

Somalia maintains an embassy in London. The diplomatic mission is led by Ambassador Abdillaahi Mohamed Ali.[15] Additionally, the Somaliland region has a diplomatic office in the city.

On 25 April 2013, the UK became the first western country to re-open its embassy in Somalia, with British First Secretary of State William Hague attending the opening ceremony in Mogadishu.[12] On 6 June 2013, the British government appointed Neil Wigan as the new British Ambassador to Somalia. He succeeded Matt Baugh.[16] On 16 March 2015, Harriet Mathews was appointed as Wigan's successor as ambassador. He is slated to be transferred to another Diplomatic Service office in June 2015.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hugh Chisholm (ed.), The encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information, Volume 25, (At the University press: 1911), p.383.
  2. ^ a b c Zolberg, Aristide R., et al., Escape from Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World, (Oxford University Press: 1992), p. 106
  3. ^ Kwame Anthony Appiah; Henry Louise Gates (26 November 2003). Africana: the encyclopedia of the African and African American experience: the concise desk reference. Running Press. p. 1749. ISBN 978-0-7624-1642-4.
  4. ^ Paolo Tripodi (1999). The colonial legacy in Somalia: Rome and Mogadishu: from colonial administration to Operation Restore Hope. Macmillan Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-312-22393-9.
  5. ^ Federal Research Division, Somalia: A Country Study, (Kessinger Publishing, LLC: 2004), p. 38
  6. ^ Laitin, p. 73
  7. ^ Laitin, p. 75
  8. ^ Francis Vallat, First report on succession of states in respect of treaties: International Law Commission twenty-sixth session 6 May – 26 July 1974, (United Nations: 1974), p. 20
  9. ^ Worldstatesmen - Somalia
  10. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, The New Encyclopædia Britannica, (Encyclopædia Britannica: 2002), p.835
  11. ^ "UK appoints New ambassador To Somalia". Goobjoog. 17 March 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Britain Re-opens Embassy in Somalia". The Chosun Ilbo. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Communiqué on Secretary-General's Mini-Summit on Somalia". United Nations. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Boris Johnson chairs UN council meeting on Somalia as famine approaches". Retrieved 2017-03-24.
  15. ^ "Somali Embassies Around the Globe". Somaligov. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  16. ^ Foreign & Commonwealth Office (6 June 2013). "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Somalia". Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  17. ^ "Press release: Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Somalia". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 17 March 2015.

External links[edit]