Workshop series on Somali constitutional law from a comparative perspective commenced in the Somali Federal Member States

Attendants were selected members of the Legislative Assembly of the respective Federal Member State.

The workshop series organized under the German Federal Foreign Office funded project Capacity Building and Legal Advice for the Federal Member State Legislative Assemblies in Somalia started with the topic Introduction to Political Decentralisation and Federalism. The workshops on this topic were held for members of the Federal Member State Legislative Assemblies of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Puntland, and Jubaland.

The workshop materials on the topic were prepared by Research Fellows from the Foundation and discussed with the Somali Legal Advisors employed under the project during the first training-of-trainers workshop held beginning of December 2022. The presentation provided a general overview on the three forms of state structure – unitary, federal, and confederal. Then the presentation focused on federalism as a distinct form of decentralization discussing its major features and the various approaches and reasons for introducing federalism. The last part of the presentation was dedicated to Somalia discussing how federalism was introduced and evolved in Somalia and covered the relevant provisions in the Somali Provisional Constitution and the constitutions and laws of all the five Federal Member States. The presentation was then followed by a working group exercise. The participants were divided into three groups, each of them considering and discussing possible advantages and disadvantages of a) a decentralized unitary state structure, b) a decentralized federal system, and c) of a confederal state structure in a fictitious country.

The workshops on this topic were now held by the Somali Legal Advisors trained during the first training-of-trainers workshop. The workshop series started in Jowhar on 26 of December 2022, where the Local Project Coordinator and Senior Legal Advisor together with the Speaker opened the workshop for 30 selected members of the Hirshabelle Legislative Assembly. The Local Project Coordinator and Senior Legal Advisor managed to also open the workshop in Kismayo for selected members of the Jubaland Legislative Assembly on 31 December 2022. The workshop was held for selected members of the Legislative Assembly of Galmudug in Dhusumareb on 4 January 2023, and for selected members of the Puntland House of Representatives in Garowe on 8 January 2023. Only in South-West State, this workshop could not yet be held due to the prevailing political tensions, particularly in its state capital Baidoa.

In all four locations in which the workshop was held, it triggered very interesting discussions on why Somalia adopted a federal system and how it could be developed further. From feedback gathered at the end of the workshops, generally, participants concluded that they now have a broader and better understanding of the concepts of political decentralisation and federalism because of the workshop. They therefore appreciated the start of the workshop series and were looking forward to attending more of such workshops in future.