Publication: Conflict in Somalia : Drivers and Dynamics

Thumbnail Image
Files in English
English PDF (810.38 KB)

English Text (194.83 KB)
World Bank
Somalia's history of conflict reveals an intriguing paradox--namely, many of the factors that drive armed conflict have also played a role in managing, ending, or preventing war. For instance, clannism and clan cleavages are a source of conflict--used to divide Somalis, fuel endemic clashes over resources and power, used to mobilize militia, and make broad-based reconciliation very difficult to achieve. Most of Somalia's armed clashes since 1991 have been fought in the name of clan, often as a result of political leaders manipulating clannism for their own purposes. Yet traditional clan elders are a primary source of conflict mediation, clan-based customary law serves as the basis for negotiated settlements, and clan-based blood-payment groups serve as a deterrent to armed violence. Likewise, the central state is conventionally viewed as a potential source of rule of law and peaceful allocation of resources, but, at times in Somalia's past, it was a source of violence and predation. Economic interests, too, have had an ambiguous relationship with conflict in Somalia. In some places, war economies have emerged that perpetuate violence and lawlessness, while in other instances business interests have been a driving force for peace, stability, and rule of law. Understanding under what circumstances these and other variables serve as escalators or de-escalators of violence-or both-is the subtle challenge conflict analysis faces in the Somali context. To prepare the ground for providing effective and sensitive reconstruction and development assistance to Somalia that contributes to conflict de-escalation, this analysis examines the key conflict factors at play in the three main regions of the country and recommends avoiding fueling clan-group competition, encouraging and supporting cross-clan or clan-neutral activities and partners, helping to bridge groups, and understanding the role of religion. A number of pertinent recommendations are also made towards fostering sensitive economic development and nonpartisan governance.
World Bank. 2005. Conflict in Somalia : Drivers and Dynamics. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
Report Series
Other publications in this report series
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
Associated URLs
Associated content