The Somali Strategy Forum (SSF) is an internationally inclusive, non-profit, non-partisan, and multi-disciplinary research institute that forthrightly examines the myriad complex issues affecting Somali human security and regional strategy.  SSF’s mission is to foster frank, unbiased, and intellectual dialogue; dialogue that will ultimately lead to the enhancement of Somali human dignity, substantially improve internal Somali governance capacity, and vastly advance East African regional security.  By undertaking our work in a transparent, inclusive, and non-discriminatory manner, the SSF also strives to increase the International Community's understanding of Somalia's rich culture, history and regional significance.  

The Somali Strategy Forum’s methodology is to work collaboratively with Somali and international civil-society organizations, governmental organizations, international organizations, universities and other partners to rationally evaluate the state of Somali physical and institutional infrastructure development, and to offer pragmatic, unbiased and constructive recommendations to policy makers and the public. Further, where and when they can be effective and sustained, the SSF engages in pragmatic institutional capacity development projects.  

The Somali Strategy Forum recognizes that Somalia and its citizens – including its international Diaspora - are presented with many challenges.  However, the SSF also recognizes that Somalia has many assets with which to address these challenges; most significantly, the will, spirit and intellectual capacity of its people.  By harnessing this human capital, by offering pragmatic solutions to complex problems, and by coordinating voluntary coordinated Civil Society responses, SSF serves as a catalyst for sustained social and economic development in Somalia – and abroad.


Security

Clearly, Somali security is an issue that must be addressed.  However, there is more to Somalia than violence.  Thus, kinetic solutions – standing alone – will not resolve Somalia’s security issues nor alleviate the suffering of the Somali people.  Instead, the SSF maintains that Somalia’s future is largely dependent on the state of its infrastructure - including its governance infrastructure – and this infrastructure has been substantially diminished due decades of conflict, instability and neglect. Because of this, the SSF advocates for a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, and inclusive human security approach; an approach that respects the culture of the Somali people, protects the rights of all Somali citizens, offers greater opportunity for social and economic development, and sets the foundation for societal self-actualization.


Guiding Principles

In undertaking our work, the Somali Strategy Forum is guided by the following principles:
  • The goal of Somali Human Security is to seek genuine peace with freedom and justice in common cause with a community of free and independent nations.
  • The advancement and preservation of democracy are essential to promote human rights, inspire principled cultural achievement, and maximize economic development.
  • Informed public opinion and an enduring non-partisan consensus maintain a viable security structure in a democratic society.
The Somali Strategy Forum is fully aware the vital importance of these principles. Thus, upon its inauguration, the SSF’s Board - in accordance with its stated mission and objectives - dispatched a team of experts to every province in Somalia to conduct a comprehensive Somali Needs Assessment.  This SSF team of subject matter experts volunteered their time, talents and treasure to undertake this project.   Their findings and recommendations will be outlined in depth in future publications.  However, at the outset, it is important to note that SSF’s Needs Assessment underscored Somalia's critical need for substantially increased governance capacity, inclusive political mediation, focused economic recovery, and sustainable physical infrastructure reconstruction, rehabilitation and development.  In particular, the Needs Assessment highlighted the critical need to immediately begin undertaking planning for – and expeditious execution of – sustainable development in the following fields:
  • Strategic Planning;
  • Conflict Mitigation, Peace-building and Mediation;
  • Rule of Law Development, Justice Sector Reform, and Judicial Strengthening;
  • Institutional Governance Capacity Training and Building;
  • Civil Society Development and Strengthening;
  • Universal Access to Education and Curriculum Reform;
  • Economic Liberalization, Free Market Encouragement, Entrepreneurship, Free Trade, Open – Transparent - Competition; and
  • Physical Infrastructure Development, including sustainable Agriculture, Riparian Rights, Transportation, Telecommunications, and Health Care.


Coordination and Cooperation

The Somali Strategy Forum is prepared to work with the Transitional Somali Government to build a representative democracy.  However, we recognize that after more than three decades of tyranny, this work will not easy.  Former regime leaders and regional spoilers have ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust.  Remnants of these regimes, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization. However, the SSF will continue working closely with Somali citizens as we take ever-increasing responsibility for our own affairs. As has been accomplished elsewhere, the strength and will of free peoples are now being tested before a watching world. We WILL meet this test.

The new reality is that because of coordinated Somali civil-society institutional governance and human rights capacity-building insistence, the Transitional Somali Government is just beginning to see the need for change. Recent events in Somalia - and in the Diaspora - have revealed broad public support for political pluralism, the rule of law, and free speech. In short, what we are witnessing are the stirrings of Somali democracy and they carry the promise of even greater change to our oppressed people.  What is missing, however, is the capacity to make this promise a reality.  That is where the Somali Strategy Forum can help.



Governance

With regard to Somali governance, the Somali Strategy Forum believes:
  • Governments that protect the rights of their citizens are ultimately more stable, successful and secure;  
  • Governments that suppress ideas never succeed in making them go away;  
  • Governments of the people and by the people set a single standard for all who would hold power;
  • Governments must maintain their power through consent, not coercion;
  • Governments must respect the rights of minorities, women and children, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; and
  • Governments must place the interests of their people and the legitimate workings of the political process above individual party or tribal membership.
  • With regard to Somali Civil Society development, the Somali Strategy Forum believes:
  • Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite;
  • Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selectively applying the law to punish political opponents;
  • Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media;
  • Successful societies privatize their economies and secure the rights of property;
  • Successful societies prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people;
  • Successful societies recognize the rights of women;
  • And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people.
We at the Somali Strategy Forum understand that without these ingredients, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts alone will not create a safe society.  We also understand that without striving to make these principles a reality, elections alone will not make a true democracy.



Investment in the Future

The Somali Strategy Forum serves as a beacon to all those who would work with us to help promote Somali tolerance, plurality and education.  We understand that decades of violence have deeply affected the country's ability to rebuild and sustain itself. Because of this, the SSF’s highest priority will continue to be to develop inclusive education and training programs that will help ensure the nation's needs are met; particularly with regard to vulnerable populations. At the same time, the founding members of the SSF recognize the critical need for encouraging economic recovery as a basic cornerstone for fostering Somali reconciliation.  Thus, we will continue to work with all who would engage in voluntary coordinated social and economic development – particularly as we endeavor to meet the goals of Somalia’s Medium Term Development Framework (MDTF) 2012-2018.

This will be a massive and difficult undertaking.  However, it is worth our effort - it is worth our sacrifice - because we know the stakes.  The failure of democracy in Somalia would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the Somali people and the international community, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. But, with our help, democracy in Somali will succeed and that success will send forth the news – around the world - that freedom can be the future of every nation.
The Somalia Strategy Forum
5957 N Broadway Avenue, Chicago, IL, USA, 60660.
Phone: +252-616-963654     Fax: +1-773-856-3376     E-mail: info@somaliastrategyforum.org

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