SOMALIA: ENGAGING CIVIL SOCIETY
IMTD was involved in Somalia during the late 1990s, mainly by organizing a Somali Dialogue group for Somalis living in the DC area to discuss their homeland’s current state and future.
After attending an IMTD-facilitated Ethiopian Dialogue meeting in 1996, a Somali expatriate living in Washington, DC asked IMTD to start a Somali Dialogue group. The purpose of the Dialogue was both to create more connections among the Somali community, and engage Somalis living in the DC area in discussion about Somalia’s current state and future. After establishing contacts with the local Somali community, the first dialogue was held in 1997 and others have been held periodically ever since.
In 2000, the impetus for the Dialogue meetings was the four-month Djibouti Peace Conference, beginning in May, which engaged Somali civil society in the creation of a stable and peaceful state; and the subsequent establishment of a new Somali government in Mogadishu.
A Dialogue meeting in April 2000 established a standing committee of local Somalis with various professional expertise to provide ideas and proposals for action for the Djibouti conference. The next meeting, in November, brought together members to discuss the challenges facing the recently established government in Mogadishu and how the expatriate community in North America could provide much-needed assistance.
Through one of our members, John McDonald had the privilege of meeting the former Somali Prime Minister Galaydh at a meeting in Washington, DC in January 2001. The Prime Minister and Ambassador McDonald discussed ways in which IMTD could be of assistance to the new government in the upcoming years.
On September 5, 2001, Ambassador McDonald and Program Associate Chris Bjornestad met with Mr. Dahir Sheik-Nor, the Somali Minister of Internal Affairs. Mr. Sheik-Nor was on a two-week visit to the US. The meeting focused on many of the problems and challenges currently facing Somalia. Mr. Sheik-Nor expressed his commitment to conflict resolution by engaging government, civil society, NGOs and citizens together in building a lasting peace in Somalia.
A second round of Somali Dialogue meetings was initiated in 2006. IMTD hosted the 11th Somali Dialogue meeting in June 2007. The group has been vividly discussing how the Somali Diaspora can help in establishing peace and reconciliation in Somalia. The dialogues have centered on promoting the growth of civil society in Somalia by bringing citizens together currently residing or traveling outside the country in the Washington DC community.
Somalia: A Systems Approach to Building Peace by Col Rado, Col Feather, Capt Dumont, and Ms. Nuwaysir (MS PowerPoint, 353kB), a presentation by National Defense University graduates.