Somalia is frequently referred to as the “most failed state in the world,” with a literacy rate below 50% and average annual income below $600 per person. It has not had a functional government regime for the past twenty years, inducing instability that has curtailed business investment and development. In turn, this has created a fragmented society ruled by chaos, effectively preventing the establishment of strong political and economic structures that could lift the country out of crisis.
As a response to Somalia’s crisis, British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a conference on Somalia in late February, inviting high-ranking world leaders to discuss increased international intervention in Somalia. Attendees such as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worked to create a resolution supporting ideas like a newly elected government, increased peacekeeping efforts by the African Union and United Nations, and greater crackdowns on piracy on the Somali coast. Notably, the resolution produced as a result of this conference focused on the establishment of political and social institutions within Somali culture—a reflection of the importance of political stability to a nation’s economy.
The creation of a strong central government would eradicate the need for regional warlords, frequently funded by pirate activities, to maintain order. The presence of government branches, such as the court system, would encourage private investment by reducing fear of encroachment on property rights. Similarly, a strong legal system would protect traders from pirate attacks, eliminating the need for high ransom payments that are reinforcing piracy in the region.
The London conference’s planned increases in international aid and support are building blocks toward the eventual creation of a functional Somali government. In a subsequent news conference, Prime Minister Cameron stated, “There is a future in a prosperous, stable Somalia that offers [people]…a job and a voice.” By supporting the creation of a strong democratic system in Somalia, the international community would help stabilize the country’s current political crisis and foster growth and development within its local communities.