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close this bookThe Somali Conflict (Oxfam)
close this folderPart V: Somaliland: peace-building
View the document1. Secession and cessation
View the document2. The Boroma conference
View the document3. Post-Boroma
View the document4. Demobilisation
View the document5. Shir Nabadeedka ee Sanaag: 'The Sanaag grand peace and reconciliation conference'
View the document6. Conclusions and recommendations

5. Shir Nabadeedka ee Sanaag: 'The Sanaag grand peace and reconciliation conference'

5.1 Introduction

The introduction to this report suggests that conflict is inherent in all human societies, 'a universal part of the way that humans organise and mediate individual and group relations'. If conflict is part of everyday life, then mechanisms must also exist within society to manage or resolve those conflicts. Mediation, peace conferences, peace-keeping, peace-enforcement, monitoring, military intervention, safe havens, humanitarian aid, and legal and judiciary procedures are just some of the overt and obvious mechanisms.

The response of humanitarian aid agencies to conflict tends to focus on the appalling impact of conflict and the provision of external solutions, or 'interventions'. There is, perhaps, an assumption that because a society is in conflict, local mechanisms for resolving conflicts no longer exist, or have ceased to function. Recent studies by NGOs on conflict (such as Duffield, 1990) have tended to look at the causes of conflict. While the understanding which these studies provide is essential to reorientate our thinking, perhaps there is a need to place more emphasis on looking at solutions.

By concentrating on the causes of conflict rather than the solutions to it, perhaps we fail to look for, and see, those indigenous processes or mechanisms which exist to bring about resolution or peace. Lewis (1961) has commented on Somali society that 'hostility and hospitality are important social parameters between pastoral groups'. In Somalia, to date, the emphasis of analysis has been on 'hostility', and perhaps we now need to look at closer at 'hospitality'. When we look at solutions, we should remember that, from our experience, the best development projects are those that utilise and build upon local knowledge and experience, where communities have a control over the process. It is for this reason that I present this brief case study of the 'Sanaag Grand Peace and Reconciliation Conference'.47

5.2 Sanaag Region

Sanaag, in the north-east of Somaliland is a semi-arid, mountainous and semi-desert region. The livelihood of people in the region is based on pastoral nomadism and small-scale sedentary agriculture, practiced in the valleys of the Gollis mountains. Erigavo is the regional capital and largest town.

Historically, Sanaag is important to the Somali people as the place where many of the eponymous ancestors of the clan-families lived and are buried. Several of the tombs of the ancestors are important pilgrimage sites, in particular the tomb of Sheik Issaq in Mait. Sanaag is also the only region in Somaliland where Issaq (Hater Yunis and Habr Toljallo) and Darod (Warsengeli and Dolbahunte) live together and share (and compete over) common resources of grazing and water. The division of the region into three districts broadly reflects the demographic division of resources. The Habr Toljallo mainly inhabit Eil Afweyne district to the west, the Habr Yunis and Dolbahunte live in Erigavo district in the centre, and the Warsengeli are in Badhan district to the east. Inter-marriage between Issaq and Darod, however, is more common in Sanaag than other regions of the country.

A number of minority clans also live in the region. These include the Jibrahiil, Minsale, Magadle and Gaheyle, as well as lineages of the 'sate' (outcast) clans, the Tumale, Yibr, and Midgan. Most of these are bonded to the Issaq or Darod clans. The Gaheyle, however, claim genealogical attachment to the Majeerteen (Darod).

With pastoralists competing over diminishing grazing and water resources, Sanaag region has always experienced tensions among its population. During Barre's government, the Darod clans in Sanaag (Dolbabunte and Warsengeli) gained access to resources, such as land and property, within areas traditionally considered to be Issaq. They were able to retain control over these through the power of the state. The civil war, as experienced in Sanaag, was therefore partly fought by the Issaq, under the banner of the SNM, to regain control over those grazing and water resources.

Prior to the war the populations in the main towns of Erigavo and Eil Afweyne were a cosmopolitan mix of clans. However, the war led to a large displacement of people and changed the composition of many settlements. When the SNM 'liberated' Erigavo, the Darod left the town, the Warsengeli going east to Badhan and the Dolbahunte south to Las Anod. Other groups such as the Gaheyle and the 'sate' clans who had taken up arms on the side of Siad Barre were also displaced from the Issaq areas. In 1992 Engavo's population was less than half its pre-war size.

Under the terms of a cease-fire concluded in 1991 after the war, the Issaq, Warsengeli and Dolbahunte agreed to remain within their traditional borders. Clan territories became 'safe havens' for Darod fleeing both from SNM 'liberated' areas and from the war in southern Somalia. Contact between the Issaq, Warsengeli and Dolbahunte was limited to the radio and to trading at market places along the borders. Only women were able to cross the borders.

This process of creating 'safe havens' during war, where lineages acquire a territorial reality, is described by Lewis (1961): 'Opposed groups ... withdraw from each other, leaving an area of neutral or no-man's-land, along the fringes of which guards (kojoog-ka) are posted.'

5.3 Restoring Peace

Although the SNM united the Issaq in their opposition to Siad Barre, the movement was constituted on a political alliance of clans who, in 'peaceful times', would themselves fight over resources. During the war there were conflicts in Sanaag between sub-clans of the Issaq. After Erigavo was captured by the SNM in February 1991, the town was initially occupied mainly by the Habr Yunis clan, with only a limited presence of Habr Toljallo. A Habr Yunis militia commander assumed the position of 'acting Governor'. As the Habr Toljallo owned property in the town, this situation was clearly untenable, and a process of reconciliation was started to enable other Issaq to return to Erigavo.

The reconciliation process was led by two prominent elders from Eil Afweyne, who are closely related; their two sub-clans are known as 'Habr Labada' (the 'two Habr', or 'twins'). As a result of their efforts, a committee of 43 elders (guurti), representing the Issaq clans in the region, was formed in January 1992 to settle inter-clan disputes, restore stability, and appoint a regional administration.

The regional guurti initially reaffirmed the position of the 'Acting Governor' to head up an interim administration. However, after a series of security incidents in August 1992, the Acting Governor was asked to resign by the elders. The administration was disbanded and the elders assumed authority through a number of committees. The guurti also decided that there should be no regional administration until such time as all the clans in the region, both Issaq and Darod, had reconciled their differences. This assertion of authority by the elders took place at the same time that the Somaliland National guurti intervened to stop the conflict in Berbera.

5.4 The Peace Conference

The 'Sanaag Grand Peace and Reconciliation Conference', between the Habr Yunis and Habr Toljallo (Issaq), and Warsengeli and Dolbahunte (Darod), opened in Erigavo on 19 August 1993. The meeting was opened with the reading of the Koran by Sheik Ahmed Edleh, one of the two Issaq elders who had helped to form the Issaq regional guurti.

The Sanaag Conference is an impressive example of an indigenous Somali peace and reconciliation process. Much time and thought was expended on the structure, process and organisation of the meeting. It stands in marked contrast to that initiated by the international community through the United Nations, and it is useful for the purposes of this report to draw out the main characteristics of the meeting and the process that led to it.

5.5 Peace-making from the Grass Roots

The Somali saying nabad iyo caano ('peace and milk') stresses the important relationship between peace and prosperity. Plentiful milk means healthy livestock and good grazing. 'Good grazing' refers not only to the quality of the pasture, but also to access to it. Access to pasture and water is assured through peaceful cooperation. Another Somali proverb, nabad iyo rob ('peace and rain'), complements that and stands in opposition to the proverb ol iyo abaar ('conflict and drought').

In the introduction to this report, I commented that there are two theories of how peace-making can work in Somalia: one a top-down process that recognises the political legitimacy of the 'warlords'/politicians, and the other a bottom-up approach where people rebuild their relations of trust and cooperation from the grassroots. The model in use in Sanaag region is the latter. The process is neatly described in the story that is now used to explain the beginning of the peace process in Sanaag.

It is said that in late 1991, the Banadde and Karaman plains around Eil Afweyne in western Sanaag received good rains, while to the south-east around Buhodle the rains failed. Pastoral families of the Dolbahunte, from the east, who needed access to the pastures used by the Issaq in the west, sent women envoys to the Issaq to ask if they could have access to their grazing areas (degaan). In order for this to happen, the Dolbahunte and Habr Toljallo needed to establish an agreement or 'contract' (xeer). The new xeer needed to involve the elders of each clan, and it is from this point that the peace process has been built.

5.6 A Long-Term Process

The peace and reconciliation process has been very protracted, and all sections of society have had the right to participate. Peace-making demands that people at every level of clan segmentation should reconcile their differences before they are able to meet as a larger body.48 The process is necessarily slow, in order to be inclusive, rather than exclusive.

Between August 1992 and June 1993, seven peace meetings were concluded between sub-clans of the Issaq and Darod in Sanaag region: August 1992, between the Habr Toljallo, Warsengeli and Dolbahunte at Shimbiraale; November 1992, between the Habr Yunis and Warsengeli at Jidalle; November 1992, between the Habr Toljallo, Warsengeli and Dolbahunte at Garadag; January 1993, between the Habr Yunis and Dolbahunte at Dararweyne. Further meetings took place at Yobe and Armale, between the Habr Yunis, Warsengeli and Dolbahunte.

While the details of the meetings differed, depending on the nature of the conflict (e.g. a dispute over a water point, grazing land, or personal property), the general conclusions were the same, namely:

· 'to establish peace in the region';
· 'to establish the means through which outstanding conflicts between clans can be resolved';
· 'to enable the free trade and movement of people'.

With a view to establishing peace in the region, it was also determined that a final meeting of all clans should take place in Erigavo in 1993.

5.7 Preparatory Meetings

The regional peace meeting in Erigavo was originally scheduled to start in early 1993. However, the opening was delayed by the convening of the Boroma conference in January 1993, which ended in May, and separate meetings among the Dolbahunte at Boame in February, among the Warsengeli at Hadaftimo in July, and among the Habr Yunis in Burco in July.

Potentially the Boame, Hadaftimo and Burco meetings could have upset the peace process in Sanaag. In particular, the Warsengeli meeting in Hadaftimo (when divisions within the Warsengeli over their relationship to Somaliland came to the fore) could have resulted in the Warsengeli pulling out of the Erigavo Conference.

The Warsengeli are divided into two. One group in eastern Badhan are more closely associated with the Majeerteen, having economic links with Bosasso. The majority Rer Nooh Omar, to the west of Badhan, are inter-married with the Musa Ismael (Hater Yunis) of Erigavo and have economic links and property with the town. They are supportive of the Sanaag meeting and links with Somaliland.

The Warsengeli Garaad, Sultan Abdisalam Sultan Mohamed, is old and bedridden in Hadaftimo. His representative, his brother Ismael Sultan, who participated in some 41 meetings in Somaliland (including Burco and Boroma), issued a communique at Hadaftimo in support of Somali unity and of UNOSOM activities in Somalia. Although the communique supported the promotion of peace talks in Sanaag, he refused to attend the Erigavo meeting. As a result, the Warsengeli Garaad had no representative at Erigavo. However, the Garaad himself is said to be supportive of the meeting, because the meeting was able to proceed.49

There was also a last-minute hitch with the Gahayleh. The Gahayleh are a small clan, but are considered to be one of the original clans of Sanaag. They are thought to be related to the Habr Magadle, whose daughter Sheik Issaq married. Before the war they used to live among the Rer Abdi Hamud of the Musa Ismael (Hater Yunis), in Sanaag. However, they are what is known as a sheegad ('pretending'; claiming to belong to a lineage to which one does not belong by birth), and declare a genealogical affiliation to the Majeerteen. During the war they sided with the Darod against the Habr Yunis. When the SNM gained control, the Gahayleh fled en masse to Garowe and Bosasso. As a result they have lost their farms and frankincense trees.

Just before the Sanaag Conference was due to open, the Gahayleh requested a place in the meeting. They were refused, because they had not taken part in any previous preparatory meetings. The consensus was that they should solve their problems with the Musa Ismael before they could take part in the meeting. The Musa Ismael offered them the opportunity to meet after the peace conference at Yobe, but they have apparently refused this.

The Sanaag Conference is therefore a culmination of a series of peace meetings that had taken place over a twelve-month period. The long-term nature of this process is essential to the success and sustainability of any agreement reached at Erigavo.

5.8 Peace-making to Peace-Building

Somali society is essentially a democratic society in which individual (male) opinions and the right to participate in decision-making are jealously guarded. The authority of the elders who negotiate at the peace meetings is not inherent, but is delegated to them by their clans.

All opinions have to be canvassed, and different interest groups which cut across clan alliances have to be co-opted into the process. In Somaliland, for example, the Issaq people categorise themselves into the mana-gaaho, mana-festo, and manaseer. The mana-gaaho are those who fought in the bush against the regime; the mana-festo (associated with the Manifesto Group50) are those who stayed on in Mogadishu; and the mana-seer ('who drink sweet drinks') are those who fled abroad. These groups represent different ideas and interests. In addition there are the 'politicians', 'intellectuals', 'army', 'religious groups' and the 'deydey'. In a country where 'few among the population would admit to being unsuitable for Presidency' (Drysdale, 1992), everybody's opinion has to be taken into account.

The long-term nature of the reconciliation process was necessary to ensure that the different clans of the region participated and supported the process. The dismissal of the acting regional administration by the Issaq guurti in August 1992 was a clear recognition that a narrowly based administration could have no authority and that the reconciliation process needed to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

Given the length and intensity of the conflict, it would be impossible in a single meeting to deal with the vast range of grievances that stand between the different clans. The advantage of the series of preliminary meetings meant that many issues had been dealt with along the way. The implementation of decisions of the previous meetings, such as the return of property, helped to strengthen ties and reinforce final decisions reached in Erigavo. In essence this is 'peace-building'.

The Erigavo meeting was therefore seen by participants as the formal confirmation of a long-term peace and reconciliation process. In the words of one delegate, 'Now everyone is purely for peace ... everyone has tasted war and peace and has chosen peace.'

5.9 Common Objectives

The protracted process also meant that it was possible to define the objectives of the Erigavo meeting clearly, and agree a common goal. There were only two items on the conference agenda:

1 Confirming Peace.
2 Establishing a regional administration.

Participants and observers in Erigavo firmly stressed that the primary objective was to establish peace between the clans that would allow for the return of the Darod to Erigavo, the settling of all disputes, and the return of all property. The fact that many Warsengeli and Dolbahunte returned to Erigavo at the start of the meeting was an indication of the confidence which people placed in a successful outcome.

5.10 Equal Representation

Each of the four clans participating in the meeting had equal representation in all the committees of the meeting, despite the fact that not all of the Warsengeli were present (see diagram 13).

5.11 Structure of Meeting

The organisation of the meeting was impressive. There were over 400 delegates, security personnel and labourers.

8 Sultans/Garaads
7 religious leaders
8 members of the Chairing Committee
200 delegates
22 on the Preparatory committee
130 police (100) and (30) prison staff
50 workers in the hotels and conference venue.

All representatives to the meeting were identified by official cards and had clearly defined roles and functions.

i) Guurti SuldaanGaraad - Council of Sultans and Garaads

The Council of Sultans consisted of seven Sultans and Garaads:

Dolbahunte

- Garaad Abdelgani


- Garaad Ismael


- Sultan Suleiban

Habr Toljallo

- Sultan Abdillahi Ali (Garadag)

Habr Yunis

-Sultan Esa (Burco)


- Sultan Saed (Erigavo)

Edegalle

- Sultan Mohamed (Hargeisa)

Warsengeli

- Garaad (not in attendance)

The Garaad of the Warsengeli was too old to attend the meeting. The Edegalle Sultan was present, because the Edegalle come from the same clan (Garhajis) as the Habr Yunis.

The Sultan and Garaad is the focus for the moral and ethnic solidarity of the clan. He therefore carries responsibility for the clan in a religious and political sense. The traditional function of Garaads and Sultans is as mediators. Their authority primarily derives from their expertise in mediation and problem-solving. They stand above the narrow divisions of the clan interests and 'can see beyond the fight'. The mechanism of mediation in Somali society is therefore institutionalised through the office of the Sultan or Garaad. At the beginning of the meeting the Sultans and Garaads let it be known that they were ready to sign an agreement, on completion of the conference. Thus they indicated that the meeting should conclude in peace.

ii) Sheiks

There were seven religious Sheiks attending the Sanaag Conference. Somali law combines both customary law and Islamic sharia. Religious leaders (wadaad) have an important role alongside elders at peace meetings, providing religious sanction to decisions. The religious leaders can influence the meetings, by reference to the Koran, by reminding participants what the Koran has to say about certain actions and behaviour.

iii) Shir guurti - Chairing Committee

The Chairing Committee consisted of eight members, two from each clan, one Chair, two Vice Chairs, and four secretariat:

Ali Warsame (Chair)

- HY

Saed Mohamed Nur

- HY

Mohamed Ali Shire

- DH

Mohamed Ahmed Abdulle

- DH

Mohamed Haji Ducale

- HT

Hassan Haji Ducale (Hassan Sheik)

- HY

Mohamed 'Borasab'

- WG

Mohamed ?

- WG

The Chair, Ali Warsame, was a wealthy businessman who left Mogadishu as late as 1992. It is not clear why he had been chosen to act as the Chair, but it is likely that he was able to provide some resources for the conference. He may also have had plans to invest in the region and therefore had a commitment to the success of the conference.

iv) Shir Ergo - Council of Delegates

The main council of elders involved 200 delegates (ergo - 'emissaries'), 50 from each clan. Thirty members from each clan were official voting members, with a further 20 (murti sheraf) in observance. The function of the Ergo was to review the agreements signed previously and to decide on the resolutions to the meeting. All the delegates were elders who had the authority to make decisions on behalf of the clans. According to informants, the elders and the members of the chairing committee are selected according to their 'ability' rather than the strength or size of their clan or sub-clan. Thus while 'politicians' were strictly excluded from the conference (although some

MPs were present in Erigavo), some of the elders were businessmen.51

v) Conference Preparatory Committee

This had 20 members, five from each clan, with various responsibilities for finance, logistics, and reception of VIPs. The preparatory committee was also responsible for organisation of police and labourers. The Committee was chaired by Ismael Haji Nur, a Habr Yunis businessman and elder from Erigavo.

vi) Clan Preparatory Committees

Each clan had its own preparatory committee, with responsibility for preparing the clan's agenda for the meetings and logistics.

5.12 The 'Intellectuals'

Somali Development and Relief Association (SDRA) is a Warsengeli NGO, with strong links in the USA. One of its members, Mohamoud Jama, is a member of the US Ergada (Somali Peace and Consultation Committee). Another important member is Mohamed Abdi Ali 'Bayer', one of the few Warsengeli members of the SNM, and a Minister of Planning in the first Somaliland government.52 He was also a member of the Somali Intellectuals for Peace and Democracy who, with the Ergada, the Somali Peace and Development Society, the Somali Peace Initiative, and Somalis in UNOSOM, formed an ad hoc peace coalition of Somalis at the Addis Ababa meeting in March.

The SDRA has had an influential role in the Sanaag peace process, particularly between the Issaq and Dolbahunte. Mohamoud Jama, as early as September 1992, wrote to the UN for assistance to fund a meeting in Sanaag, and was one of the first to record the meetings. They have been proactive in the cause of peace and have been the channel for funds from the Life and Peace Institute for the Sanaag Peace meeting.

SDRA formed one of the groups of 'intellectuals', observing and supporting the peace conference in Sanaag. Other (though less well-defined groups) existed among the other clans.

It can be seen from this that the conference involved a wide range of different interest groups.

5.13 Consensus Decision-Making

A fundamental principle of the conference is that all decisions should be achieved by consensus, rather than through voting. It is believed that voting, even if only one person is in disagreement, can leave a grievance. A consensus decision results in a 'win-win' situation and is considered more sustainable.

5.14 Problem-Solving

An important feature of the way that elders work at problem-solving is their ability to deconstruct a problem and solve first those issues which are deemed solvable. As described above, the whole reconciliation process itself from the beginning was constructed around that principle, so that through a series of preparatory meetings problems were dealt with along the way.


Diagram 13: Shir Nabadeedka ee Sanaag

The first week of the Sanaag conference was spent reading over the agreements that had been reached by the preceding meetings, electing a chair, and agreeing on the agenda and the rules for the meeting. The second week was set aside for the individual clans to hold their meetings and to solve any outstanding issues that had not been solved during their previous meetings, or that had arisen since.

The meeting was structured in a way that recognised the different relationships and grievances between the clans and the need for these to be dealt with separately. For example, the Habr Yunis have a different relationship with the Dolbahunte and Warsengeli than with the Habr Toljallo. The Habr Yunis share common boundaries with the Dolbahunte and Warsengeli and a different set of rules (xeer) thus governs their relationships than those with the Habr Toljallo. The Habr Yunis have intermarried more with the Warsengeli than the Habr Toljallo have. Within the Habr Yunis there are also different relationships. The Musa Arreh, for example, who live in Mait, share no common borders with the Darod, so the rules which govern their relationship are different from those of the Musa Ismael.

As indicated above, competition over the ownership and usage of land and resources was a driving force behind the war. The various clans who share boundaries will have different land issues to resolve. For example, the Masagan valley was developed for farming by the Dolbahunte prior to the war, having previously been grazing land used by the Musa Ismael (Hater Yunis). The Musa Ismael recaptured it from the Dolbahunte during the war. Who the land now belongs to must be sorted out by the Musa Ismael and Dolbahunte themselves. Other clans would not intervene unless asked to.

The Habr Yunis and the Warsengeli similarly have specific problems to resolve. The Habr Yunis and Warsengeli own the largest numbers of houses in Erigavo. Return of property was therefore a big issue for these two clans. In contrast, the Dolbahunte and Warsengeli do not share a common border and there were fewer contentious issues to resolve.

The elders understand that different problems exist between different groups. During the war the xeer which governed those relationships was broken. It is much more traumatic to be in conflict with a neighbour than with a stranger. Repairing that relationship is likely to be much harder. Time was therefore set aside for the clans to discuss their problems in separate meetings, and more time was given to those clans with a greater number of more difficult problems to solve. For example, the Dolbahunte and Habr Toljallo took two days to reconfirm their previous agreements, while the Habr Yunis and Warsengeli were given four days.

Interestingly, it was said that the Issaq (Hater Yunis and Habr Toljallo) had not settled their own problems before the meeting, and it had been agreed to deal with them once the meeting was concluded. The reason for this was not clear. In 1991, they made a list of their grievances and demands (diya blood payments, return of looted items, etc.). It was perhaps felt that solving the larger problems between the Issaq and Darod would help them to solve their internal differences. Moreover, the issues within the Issaq were perhaps clearer and could be more easily settled within the existing rules of xeer

The elders are pragmatic in dealing with problems. It is understood that there are things that can be settled, and there are others that cannot. For example, it was possible to list the grievances between the Habr Yunis and Habr Toljallo, but the grievances between the Issaq and Darod were too many. What happened between the Issaq and Darod therefore had to be dealt with in a different manner. While assets (houses, vehicles, land) can be returned, the norm has been in all such meetings in Somaliland to draw a line under the past and to declare that any homicide that took place before the cease-fire has to be forgotten. Incidents from that time on will be dealt with through joint committees. The principle is to avoid things that will create further problems: a recognition of the limits of law.

From an outsider's perspective, this insistence on forgetting and hiding grievances (institutional amnesia and amnesty) makes it difficult to understand whether trauma is in fact an issue and, if so, how it can be dealt with. It makes it difficult to address issues of war crimes and human rights abuse. History is important in Somali society and feuds can last generations, so it is difficult to see how crimes can be truly forgotten. Perhaps there is in such an agreement a recognition of common guilt.

5.15 Mediation

The primary function of the conference was to provide a forum in which the clans could solve their differences. The conference offered a forum for facilitation rather than mediation. The clans were expected to solve their own problems. At the same time the meeting did provide a structure for mediation. The clans were expected to reaffirm their agreements at the main conference. If they were unable to do this, the ergo were given the opportunity to mediate. If they were unable to solve the problem, it went to the Chairing Committee, and if they also were unable to solve it, it passed to the Sultans. The Sultans would if necessary be the final mediators and final decision-makers. However, they prefer to approve decisions, rather than enforce them.

Having an equal number of delegates in each committee was essential for mediation. In Somali society mediators have to be equal in number in order to represent equally the interests of the different parties.

5.16 Resources

The meeting was largely funded by the communities in Sanaag. Some support has been received from ActionAid and the Life and Peace Institute through SDRA. UNOSOM promised to transport 30 tonnes of food for the meeting, donated by the American Embassy in Djibouti, but at the time of the visit this had not been forthcoming.

The funds from the LPI has been used for food, blankets and utensils. Each delegation contributed 75 head of goats, and some fuel. The cost of keeping over 400 delegates was in the region of So.Sh 680,000 ($200) per day. By the end of the second week of meeting they were said to be 60,000,0000 ($20,000) in debt.

5.17 Security

By common agreement, all militia were kept away from Erigavo for the duration of the conference. 100 policemen were recruited from the Habr Yunis (50) and Habr Toljallo (50) for the meeting. They were identified by red arm bands. They were the only people allowed to carry guns during the conference. It is significant that the security police were provided by the Habr Yunis and Habr Toljallo. Erigavo is traditionally an Issaq town, primarily Habr Yunis. It is customary in Somali society that hosts are responsible for the security of their guests. In providing the security, the Habr Yunis were therefore confirming their role as hosts.

5.18 Defining the Peace

The conference in Erigavo was first and foremost a peace meeting between the clans. However, if peace is merely defined as an absence of armed conflict, then peace could be said to have been established by the cease-fire agreed between the clans in 1991. However, a cease-fire is only the first part, a precursor to peaceful cooperation. Peace has to be built upon and institutionalised. The series of peace meetings that were concluded prior to the Erigavo conference laid down the parameters for sustaining new relations and peaceful cooperation, namely the rights to:

· freedom of movement
· freedom of trade
· access to common grazing areas
· access to common water sources
· return of property.

5.19 Property Issues

It has been assumed that sorting out issues of property and land rights will be problematic in any peace process in Somalia. In Erigavo, this appears to have been less of an issue than one might assume. In principle it is an issue open to negotiation. In Erigavo it was consistently stressed that people who live (or lived) together know who owns what. People distinguish between private and common property, in the same way that pastoralists distinguish between common and private wells. For example, in Sanaag on the Guban coastal plain where water is abundant, no specific rights are exerted over wells; on the Ogo plateau small lineage groups exert some ownership rights; in the dry Haud individuals exert rights over wells.

Houses and movable property such as animals and vehicles are relatively easy to deal with. The owners are known. The issue, once the principle is agreed that property should be returned, is partly a private matter. For example, a person whose house has been captured or squatted in by another may negotiate for its return and agree to pay some money to the squatters for looking after' the property. Other property may have been protected by affinal relatives, in which case the return of that property is easy. By the start of the peace meeting many people had already begun to exchange property - animals and movable assets.

A more problematic issue is land. As described above, some of the valleys of Sanaag had been expropriated by others prior to the war for farming land, and the war had been partly fought over this issue. In Sanaag a major issue will be the farms and grazing areas which the Habr Yunis have declared as rightfully theirs and which used to be farmed by the Dared. The significance of the land issue was made clear by the fact that fencing of enclosures was going on in Erigavo town even during the conference. Equally significant will be the lands of (23) former cooperatives and reserve areas which were declared open at the Dararweyne meeting. Closures and enclosures will ultimately damage the interests of the pastoralists, and affect their coping strategies, by restricting their movement.

Somali pastoralism is a highly developed system of range management that utilises resources which other modes of production may not be able to utilise so effectively. The conflict in Sanaag has had an effect on the relationship between different interest groups and how they perceive the management of resources in the future. The changing population and market forces will bring new investment strategies and changes in the use of rangeland resources. One is likely to see greater 'opportunistic' development or exploitation of resources by wealthy people wanting to invest in the region, now they can no longer invest in the south. The extent to which the meeting in Erigavo, and any peace meeting, is able to address these long-term issues will be crucial for future peace in the region.

5.20 Commonality of Interests

Why, after all the years of repression, death and mistrust, should people in Sanaag want to restore peace? What are the common interests among people that motivate the desire for peace?

Because the war has been fought along clan lines, analysis of the conflict to date has tended to emphasise the agnatic relationships and conflict-prone nature of the segmentary clan system. We tend to look at the clan system vertically. However, clans segment through marriage and demographic growth. Too much emphasis on the agnatic links means that we forget the affinal links. Some Somalis have joked that 'Hater' ('mother', e.g. Habr Toljallo, Habr Yunis, Habr Awal) is the problem. While this recognises the problem of the segmentation of clans, it is perhaps also a comment on the fact that it is difficult to be hostile to someone to whom one is related. What was consistently stressed at the Erigavo conference was the affinal links and the high level of inter-marriage between the clans. The Issaq and Darod clans in Sanaag are closely linked through marriage. The Habr Yunis in particular are intermarried with the Warsengeli and Dolbabunte.

Another motivation for the conference was economic, and had to do with trade, access to grazing lands, and access to water. In a sense the conference was a business meeting. The Issaq need to cooperate with the Dolbahunte and Warsengeli in order for business, trade, economic recovery, rehabilitation and development to happen and be sustained. The Habr Yunis also need the freedom to move southwards through Dolbahunte territory to their grazing lands in the Haud.

One of the effects of war is to undermine people's 'coping mechanisms' or 'survival strategies'. 'Low-intensity' warfare, which typifies much of the armed conflicts in the world today, in which 90 per cent of deaths are civilians, aims to destroy the social fabric of communities and cooperation - the first level of coping strategies. In the harsh post-war environment in Sanaag region, peaceful cooperation, which allows for the resumption of trade and sharing of resources, is in itself a survival strategy.

5.21 Local Government

The second item on the agenda of the conference was the establishment of a regional administration. What kind of administration will emerge was not clear and was up for debate. The most likely structure will be one that mirrors the one developed for central government, with a council of elders and an executive administrative body.

The challenge for NGOs working in Sanaag is going to be how to work with any new administration that is formed. The elders kept the 'politicians' out of the peace meetings, because making peace was not their 'job'. Now it will be the job of the politicians to run the administration, and the elders are likely to point the NGOs towards supporting the administration in order to build upon or strengthen the peace. As the situation in Somaliland changes, NGOs will have to adapt their practices from one in which there was no functional government, to one in which there is a representative government starting to function.

Sanaag may offer a way of dealing with this change. In addition to the regional administration, the innovative addition that was being considered in Erigavo was the formation of a 'Development Committee', or 'intellectuals committee'. The function of this committee would be to act as advisers to the elders and the administration, to gather data on the needs of the region, and seek funding for regional development. It was been proposed that each clan would pay the salary of one graduate for one year to represent them on this committee. The name being proposed by SDRA was the 'Peace, Planning and Economic Committee'.

5.22 Peace and Development

In Sanaag region a process is underway to rebuild a community damaged by war. The model suggested by the Sanaag Conference is that peace and stability can only grow by building peace from the grassroots. The model suggests that a locally initiated process is likely to be most sustainable. It also suggests that efforts by NGOs in Somaliland should be directed towards supporting these processes at the periphery.

For the purpose of this report, what is perhaps most striking when looking at the peace meeting in Sanaag is that processes used in peace-making, or peace-building are similar to those we look for in a sustainable development projects: a long-term process, community participation, community support, legitimate representation, traditional (indigenous) ways of doing things, common goals, and community ownership of the process. In this sense the NGO approach to self-reliant sustainable development is not so far removed from peace-making or peace-building. The goals of justice and development are surely common to both. Once this is understood, it does not require too great a leap of imagination to begin to look at ways in which NGOs can both support and learn from peace-making activities in Somaliland.