In 2006, DRC/DDG and Oxfam Novib co-sponsored a research study to “critically assess the historical and current role of the traditional structures in the development process in Somalia, and analyse how the Somali traditional structures can interlink, and be matched with formal governmental structures and principles of good governance”.
This analysis was critical to point out the importance of working with elders and elder structures in South Central Somalia. Based on the findings and recommendations of this report, in 2007, DRC/DDG launched an EU-funded two-year pilot project entitled “Support to the consolidation and strengthening of the role of clan elders within peace building and respect for human rights in Somalia” with two local partners (Somali Peace Line and Horn Peace Somalia).
Now, in 2019, DRC/DDG commissioned an evaluation study on these 12 years of interventions around more inclusive, transparent and accountable customary justice institutions (Guurti+ model) under the DFID-funded, UNOPS managed Security Sector and Justice Programme (SSJP) programme “The Time is Now”.
This project allowed for this plurilegal understanding of Justice in Somalia to be scaled up, with a community-centred approach, in 10 districts with the support of the legal aid partners WOCCA, CEDA and SWDC, who are working closely on legal aid provision and holistic assistance to survivors.
“I would say that if Malaaq elders had not been united, the violence [following the arrest of Mukhtar Robow in Baidoa] would have turned into a clan conflict that would be disastrous to the stability of this district.”
– Most Significant Change Study, Baidoa, 2019.
Key findings of the report highlight that the approach has improved access to justice and resulted in more inclusive participation in peacebuilding. It also highlighted the importance of supporting women, young people and minority clans with technical capacity – in mediation and within their roles in local civil society organisations – in order for them to be able to meaningfully engage in these structures and not have their lack of expertise be used as an argument against their participation.
Mostly, it showcased the validity and effectiveness of an inclusive approach and bottom-up reconciliation processes. In the most significant change study, the inclusive work with the Guurti+ (Malaaqs+, Dubabs+, Nabadonos+) in Baidoa was shown to have a direct impact on the prevention of escalation of violence in the post-elections tensions.