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Order Out of Chaos: Somali Customary Law in Puntland and Somaliland

This article highlights the role clan elders play in mediating conflicts in Somalia. Elders uphold Somali customary law known as xeer that provides reciprocal rights between kin and clans and they also arbitrate when xeer is violated. Clan elders’ ability to maintain the rule of law has been especially important considering the chaos that ensued with the collapse of the Somali state in 1991.  Not only have they managed everyday conflicts among people, but clan elders also mediate conflicts between political entities as illustrated by their role in resolving  the territorial dispute over Puntland and Somaliland. Learn more about Somali clan leaders’ role in managing security and upholding law and order.

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Traditional Authority and Good Governance in Africa

This article offers the perspective of a tribal elder on the failed attempts to make peace in Somalia, and the role of tribal elders in preventing and resolving conflicts in their communities. Elder Ibrahim of the Luway sub-clan explains how elders derive their power from the community, which gives them authority to mediate within their tribe as well as between their tribes and other tribes. Elders work within their traditional power structures to find inclusive solutions to local conflicts in ways that international negotiators could learn from. Learn more about traditional conflict resolution in Somalia.

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