In This Review

When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland
When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland
By Sarah G. Phillips
256 pp, Cornell University Press, 2020

The territory of Somaliland unilaterally broke away from Somalia to become an independent state at the beginning of the civil war in 1991. But the international community never formally recognized the legality of this secession. As a result, Somaliland has not received as much international economic or state-building support as Somalia. Nevertheless, it has managed to be more peaceful and democratic than the country it broke away from. Phillips’s nuanced and provocative study is the most compelling account yet of Somaliland’s recent history. Her explanation for the country’s success weaves together domestic and international dynamics. At the domestic level, she shows that a fear of violence and instability encouraged cohesion and a sense of shared civic purpose among social elites. Phillips also argues that the lack of international attention provided space for elites to work out their differences without the often disastrous distraction of courting donors.