Key Rights and Documents

Somaliland and the Horn of Africa

Key Documents

The Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland

The Republic of Somaliland is bound by international treaties that have been ratified or acceded to by the Republic of Somalia, so long as they do not conflict with the interests of the state. The Constitution confirms this at Article 10(1).

The Constitution includes a range of Human Rights that can also be found in International Human Rights law. It divides these into ‘Individual Rights’, for example the right to life (Article 24) and the right to liberty (Article 25) and ‘Fundamental Freedoms’, which includes the freedom of movement (Article 23) and freedom of communication (Article 30).

It is important to note that many of these rights, for example the right to freedom of association (Article 23) remain ‘qualified’, meaning the State is able to interfere with it on specific grounds. Internationally it is recognised that this can be done to protect public morals, the security of the country or the rights of other individuals. The Constitution explicitly implies that the state is not bound where the law interferes with the Republic of Somaliland’s interests and concerns (Article 10(1). Though, such rights are also to be interpreted by the State “in a manner consistent with the international conventions on human rights and also with the international laws referred to in this Constitution” (Article 21(2)).

African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, also known as the ‘Banjul Charter’, is an international human rights treaty designed to reflect the history, values, traditions, and development of Africa, in its approach to protecting and promoting human rights (as stated in its Preamble).

This treaty expressly includes a range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. As well as this, it also includes collective people’s rights. These refer to rights which can apply collectively to groups, particularly minorities, who are particularly vulnerable to breaches of their human rights. One example of this is right to free disposal wealth and natural resources (Article 21), of which is especially applicable to indigenous groups.

The Rights under the Charter are to be guaranteed by States without any type of discrimination whether that be: race, sex, language, religion, fortune, birth or other status (Article 2). Though, as above, some rights remain qualified rather than absolute and may be interfered with on grounds specified by law.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is an international human rights treaty which specifically seeks to protect and promote a range of civil and political rights. These are rights which aims to refrain states from interfering with individual freedoms. This is to ensure both civil and political freedom.

It endorses fundamental human rights such as: the right to self-determination (Article 1), the right to liberty (Article 9) and the prohibition of slavery (Article 8).

The rights under this Treaty should be applied without any type of discrimination and without any limitations, other than those prescribed by law.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights can be found at

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICECSR)

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural requires states “to take steps” to the maximise their available resources to progressively achieve economic, social and cultural rights (Article 2). These rights include: the right to work (Article 6), the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work (Article 8), the right to education (Article 13) and the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (Article 12).

The Covenant requires States to guarantee the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights without discrimination and only limit such rights where prescribed by law.

Geneva Convention

The Geneva Convention and its Additional protocols regulate the conduct of armed conflict and seeks to limit its effects [1]. The Fourth Convention in particular seeks to protect the sick, wounded and shipwrecked, persons not taking part in conflict, prisoners of war and other detainees, civilians and civilian objects. for example Article 27 provides protections for occupied civilians.

Such rights apply from the outset of any conflict or occupation of a State. Though it is important to note that such rights only apply during such conflict and applies to all parties to an armed conflict.

Other Treaties

Somaliland has ratified a number of other treaties of which specifically protect minorities, as well as those who are most vulnerable to human rights breaches. These include:

- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

- UN Declaration against Violence against Women

- UN Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC)

- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

- UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment -1990

There are ten human rights treaty bodies that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties. They have many functions ranging from making policy recommendations through to monitoring the implementation of international laws. These can be found at