Since you have moved the debates on monopolies - I am against private monopolies as far a necessities are concerned. I am less concerned with publically owned monopolies. As far a luxuries - I don't care.
With regard to your questions
"If there were no States, no Nations, no Gov'ts would man still have rights? Would there still be such a thing as justice? Would ethics exist?"
No - Rights are a societal concept - without that framework to provide legitmacy all you have is abilities. (To Fred - since rights are a societal concept society can grant lesser rights to corporate persons than Human Beings - but there still needs to be a society)
Yes - Although it would be even more poorly understood than it is now, and there would be no external objective framework - it would be a purely subjective concept of whether an individual considered an outcome 'fair' (consider the term 'poetic justice').
Yes - ethics are a personal and contextual value system of right and wrong. You do not need a society to have your own subjective idea of what is right and what is wrong.
Moving onto Somalia
Michael I very disappointed you have things backward. The Ethiopian Troops invaded after the Islamic Courts Union had taken over and effective established a Goverment (albeit unrecognised internationally, like Somaliland), they didn't invade when there was no Government. There is a Government there now - although still almost entirely dependant on Ethiopian troops and fighting continues. - so you have a point about outside intervention possibly making things worse - After a form of government was taking hold.
The Background - Somalia had no effective Government 1995 - 2006 just competing/warring majority 'Clans'.
Then last year the Islamic Courts Union took over and established some form of Government and Sharia law. This was considered a significant improvement for both business and human rights (except by the USA and Ethiopia)
Ethiopia then invaded in 'support' of the 'Trasnsitional Government' (Powerless Government in Exile). Bringing Somalia back to civil war. - which is pretty much where we are now.
When you talk about northern Somalia where exactly do you mean Somaliland?, Puntoland? (Both that effectively have governments of their own).
In answer to your question
Why don't we hear that they are doing fine without gov't for the last 15 years?
Somalis were not by any stretch of the imagination doing 'fine'. Just think how bad things have to be for Sharia law to be considered an improvement. (Or you could dig up the Amnesty International, Human Rigths Watch, US State Dept reports for that time).
I also point out that I have represented far too many Somali Refugees over the years (minority clan mainly) to have any illusions that Somali's were doing 'fine'.
It wasn't reported because the news agencies and 'audience' were not interested. Pretty much as they weren't interested in the 'brotherwar' that broke out between the PUK and KDP when the Kurdish Autonoumous Area was established.
I've also ask you to note that the evidence does not support Somali's "doing better now".
UNICEF warns of critical levels of malnutrition amongst Somali children
NAIROBI, 12 September 2007 - Following a recent nutrition survey, UNICEF and its partners estimate that 83,000 children in central and southern Somalia suffer from malnutrition - 13,500 of whom are severely malnourished and at risk of dying.
"These children urgently require attention to ensure that they survive," said UNICEF Representative to Somalia Christian Balslev-Olesen. "UNICEF is very concerned that their numbers might increase with continued civil strife, limited humanitarian access to these areas, food insecurity and a depressed economy," he added.
Malnutrition is not new to Somalia, however such critical levels in a region known as the country's breadbasket are alarming and point to a deteriorating humanitarian situation. In fact, an earlier comprehensive nutrition survey conducted in May in Middle and Lower Shabelle (bordering Mogadishu) had already indicated that 17 per cent of children under five years of age suffer from global acute malnutrition – a figure that is above WHO emergency threshold levels (>15 per cent).
"Children and families in this region have recently gone from one shock to another" said Balslev-Olesen, "and with the next flood season around the corner, it is important that peace building efforts are intensified to ensure that UNICEF and its partners can address the underlying causes of these problems as well as the immediate needs."
UNICEF currently supports 60 selective feeding programmes in Central and Southern Somalia. These centres treat about 15,000 malnourished children each month. But in order to scale up its activities and reach the thousands of additional children at risk, issues of security must be tackled.
"We appeal to all parties involved," stressed Balslev-Olesen "to establish peace so that we can work with communities to meet the needs of these children."
The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia has increased from one million to 1.5 million since January 2007. Most of those in need are children and women.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
Pictures available upon request.
For interviews, please call:
Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative, +254 722 514 569 or +254 733 629 933
Nuradin Derie (for interviews in Somali), +254 722 582 646
For further information, please contact:
Misbah Sheikh, OIC Communication, UNICEF Somalia Support Center, Tel: +254 20 762-3958
Mob: +254 736 397 771, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Somalia Faces Bleak Future But Hope Endures
By Darren Taylor
10 September 2007
Conflict continues in Somalia, the Horn of Africa country that's been ravaged by violence for almost two decades. Innocent civilians are caught in fighting between members of Islamic militias, and troops from Ethiopia and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Human rights monitors say thousands of people have been killed or displaced. A recent national conference called to set the agenda for more inclusive politics in Somalia has instead resulted in further division. In the final part of a series focusing on Somalia, VOA's Darren Taylor looks at the future of the country.
"Somalis in general want peace. The problem of course is that many Somali elites have armed themselves and are only pursuing a peace that they are willing to live with, that they would benefit from. So the average Somali – man, woman and child – ends up suffering because of the nefarious interests of a few," says Dr. Andre Le Sage, an analyst at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a US government think tank in Washington, and a former political advisor in the process that resulted in the formation of the TFG.
"The folks who are stoking problems in Somalia are a minority in that country. And you have that minority in almost every country in the world if there is lawlessness. But when democratic governments are in place, most people want to go on with their lives, take care of their families, put their children through school, and Somalis are no different," says Prof. Abdi Ismail, a Somali academic who teaches at the University of Minnesota.
But, at the moment, there can be no "getting on with their lives" for Somalis, whether they're still living in the country or in foreign lands, for their homeland continues to be torn apart by violence.
Many Somali analysts, including Dr. Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi, a linguist and historian based in Hargeisa in Somaliland, say the only way to ensure peace and prosperity in Somalia in the future is for the international community, and especially Ethiopia, to allow Somalis to "sort out their own problems."
"The main problem in Somalia is the outside intervention, outside actors. The problem is Somalis are so weak that any country, by using a few million dollars, can influence the situation in Somalia. And that is what has been happening for the last 16 years," says Abdullahi.
"We had interference from Kenya, Ethiopia and even tiny Djibouti. And then from the bigger powers, like the United States and the European Union, and they are always interested in getting their own outcomes from Somalia."
Some observers accuse the US of selfishness, of only being interested in Somalia because of its potential to become a haven for terrorists and therefore a direct threat to America, and they accuse Ethiopia of having helped to rig the outcome of the process of negotiations that resulted in former military leader Abdullahi Yusuf being elected president of Somalia's TFG and appointing many members of his Darod clan to senior positions in his administration. Such a scenario, they say, allows Ethiopia to maintain its hegemony in the Horn of Africa by having unfettered influence over a friendly, but essentially weak, Somali administration.
Afyare Abdi Elmi, a Somali international relations specialist at the University of Alberta, says Liberia and Sierra Leone only experienced harmony when their respective warlord leaders, Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor, were removed from the peace process.
"Somalia is no different. Rewarding warlords will not bring peace to the Somali people. These individuals committed heinous crimes and they are not interested in peace or democracy. The United States should help in establishing a commission of international inquiry that investigates Somalia war crimes," Elmi states.
Instead of encouraging flawed reconciliation conferences, events he says omit key players in the conflict and simply serve to set the stage for more violence, Elmi is convinced that the US should encourage efforts by countries such as Saudi Arabia to mediate in Somalia.
"The Saudi government has helped mediate similar conflicts in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Moreover, most Somalis consider it a neutral country and it has a close relationship with Washington. It can also influence the Islamist groups as they are indispensable for ending the conflict," Elmi reasons.
Some Somali analysts also mention Yemen as the possible host of an all-inclusive peace summit for Somalia in the near future.
Le Sage agrees that the international community should make more efforts to involve "allies that have common interests in Somalia and might have better contacts with some segments of Somalia's political leadership, as divided as they are. So working with and through and in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other countries makes perfect sense."
But even if this were to happen, says Abdullahi, Somalis should still be "left alone" to negotiate their own future. He says there's an encouraging precedent for this.
"Here in Somaliland, people left the leaders alone and look at the result we have: a stable democracy. We had negotiations and conferences, we established a bicameral parliament and now we have peace. And we have no terrorists here. If you leave people alone to sort out their own problems, they will come up with solutions."
But Omar Faruk, the chairman of the National Union of Somali Journalists, says abandoning Somalis in the "high hope" that they'll solve decades of strife on their own would be "wrong…. The international community withdrew from Somalia in the 1990's, and that prolonged the crisis and the conflict. The US-led UN troops left from Somalia in the 1990's, while the conflict in Somalia was only starting. And at that time we had only two main warlords. Now, we have more than 30 equal-power warlords – either in the government or not in the government."
The only way forward for a lasting peace in Somalia, he says, is for the international community to continue to pressure the factional leaders.
"We need the international community to be present on the ground, as peacekeepers, and at the same time to push the different political groups to reach a solution. We do not need less international presence in Somalia; we need much more. But it must be in the form of a legitimate peacekeeping force, with no sinister motives," Faruk says.
Ismail says unless there's major reconstruction and development in Somalia, there'll be no peace, and what's needed is for international donors to make substantial financial commitments to the country.
"Very significant amounts of money, carefully monitored, that will be invested in the infrastructure of Somali society, the rebuilding of the country – ports and airports and schools and roads, water systems, electricity, security, education, health – those kinds of things. If that is done, then it will create jobs in the country. Many of the young people who have nowhere to go will see that as a new hope for them, and the revival of the Somali society will take place. There will be little need for young people to join warlords, or to join Islamist militants, or whatever group," he says.
Prof. Ahmed Samatar, the dean of international relations at Macalester College in Minnesota, says he and other Somali academics have often discussed the future of their impoverished, violent homeland.
"We have made some calculations, and we think that an investment of about a billion dollars a year for about five to six years in those kinds of social infrastructure and economic infrastructure will put new energy into the revival of Somali society and its own institutions."
But Samatar also believes that a "moderate Islam" has a major role to play in Somalia's future.
"This is a society that has to rise from the ashes. And the only way in which you can rise from the ashes is to retrieve some of the fundamental cultural foundations of that society. Islam is a Somali phenomenon. The Somalis cannot be non-Muslims. There are many in the Somali society who understand that an Islam that is cosmopolitan, that's connected to the world, is the key to rehabilitated, democratic politics."
Prof. Hagi Mukthar, another prominent Somali academic in the US, says no "proper" development will happen in Somalia unless there is a "large scale disarmament process, supported by the world, to get rid of all the weapons in the country. Otherwise it will remain in disarray. You can't have people running around a country carrying weapons of mass destruction and expect there to be peace and political negotiation."
But Mukthar isn't optimistic. He foresees the circle of ethnic violence continuing in Somalia.
"No clan until today (has) really won over another clan. There was no loser, and there's no winner. It's always like this," he says.
"One area where we are failing hopelessly is that you never hear Somalis speaking about the rule of law. I've never heard of any place that has undergone a crisis of such magnitude, and nobody talks about what has gone wrong, about who is who in the whole scenario."
He warns against a "growing apathy" among Somalis.
"Other nations, in the aftermath of a civil crisis, there's always a great shout amongst the people for the rule of law to take precedence in establishing order. If you look at South Africa, Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone – there were processes there that allowed the people a bit of justice. Why is this not happening in Somalia? It worries me a great deal. There are no calls for any tribunals, or for any justice, in Somalia."
Tom Porteous, the director of Human Rights Watch in London, warns that the Somali state cannot be rebuilt in a "human rights vacuum. All the parties to the conflict at the moment have committed very serious violations of international humanitarian law. Those violations continue, and as long as they continue, it's going to be extremely difficult even to start rebuilding the Somali state."