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The London Conference on Somalia


Mao of Somalia

[Map of Somalia —]

Leaders from across the globe are gathering today with various leaders in Somalian civic society at the London Conference on Somalia. The goal of the conference is to develop a new international approach to Somalia that nonetheless keeps Somalians in the center of the dialogue and thus of viable solutions.

The British government is central to these efforts and their views have been laid our rather well in this blog post from Philip Barton, who is the Deputy Head of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Washington. I was particularly pleased with this excerpt:

Ultimately decisions on Somalia’s future rest with the Somali people. The role of the international community is to facilitate Somalia’s progress and development: our strength is in unity and coordinated support to Somalia. As Foreign Secretary Hague said;

“A more stable Somalia is vital to our national security here in Britain; it is essential to the stability of the Horn of Africa; and it is long overdue for the people of Somalia who have endured twenty years of desperate suffering.”

Our goals are ambitious, but realistic. We know they can’t be achieved overnight and certainly not without international cooperation. We are pleased the United States is standing with us at this important moment, as we have stood together so many times in the past. Coordinated leadership is vital to making a reality of our shared vision of a more stable Somalia.

The United States appears to be putting its money where its mouth is. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today announced at the conference that the United States is committing an extra $64 million in humanitarian aid to Horn countries as part of a larger vision for the region’s future stability. The money is a pittance relative to both the problems of the area and the United States’ budget, but it along with Clinton’s larger remarks reveals a clear sign of American engagement in the region.

All involved in these discussions know that no advancements will come easily in Somalia and the rest of the Horn. There is no magic bullet. But recent weeks have see a few positive advancements and maybe, just maybe, within the next decade we will see progress in a region that has not moved forward in a long, long time.



Derek Catsam

Derek Catsam is a Professor of history and Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan Professor in the Humanities at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He is also Senior Research Associate at Rhodes University. Derek writes about race and politics in the United States and Africa, sports, and terrorism. He is currently working on books on bus boycotts in the United States and South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s and on the 1981 South African Springbok rugby team's tour to the US. He is the author of three books, dozens of scholarly articles and reviews, and has published widely on current affairs in African, American, and European publications. He has lived, worked, and travelled extensively throughout southern Africa. He writes about politics, sports, travel, pop culture, and just about anything else that comes to mind.

Areas of Focus:
Africa; Zimbabwe; South Africa; Apartheid