War and Peace in Somalia

National Grievances, Local Conflict and Al-Shabaab

Edited by
November 2018 9781787380189 480pp
EU Customers


For the last thirty years Somalia has experienced violence and upheaval. Today, the international effort to help Somalis build a federal state and achieve stability is challenged by deep-rooted grievances, local conflicts and a powerful insurgency led by Al-Shabaab.   

Consisting of forty-four chapters by conflict resolution specialists and the world’s leading experts on Somalia, this volume constitutes a unique compendium of insights into the insurgency and its impact. War and Peace in Somalia explores the legacies of past violence, especially impunity, illegitimacy and exclusion, and the need for national reconciliation. Drawing on decades of experience and months of field research, the contributors throw light on diverse forms of local conflict, its interrelated causes, and what can be done about it. They share original research on the role of women, men and youth in the conflict, and present new insight into Al-Shabaab—particularly the group’s multi-dimensional strategy, the motivations of its fighters, their foreign links, and the prospects for engagement.

This groundbreaking volume illuminates the war in Somalia, and sets out what can and should be done to bring it to an end. For policymakers and researchers covering Somalia, East Africa, extremism or conflict resolution, this is a must-read.


‘[This] collection provides research at a granular level on aspects of the conflict that are imperative to understanding the genesis of the conflict, why it has persisted and why the attainment of peace and reconciliation remains a daunting task in contemporary Somalia. … a comprehensive resource for decision-makers and role-players in the
region.’ — South African Journal of International Affairs

‘This remarkable book should be compulsory reading in foreign ministries.There is much to be learned from the insight and judgement of its contributors, from their experience and understanding of Somalia, which can usefully be employed elsewhere.’ — Menzies Campbell, Lord Campbell of Pittenween CH CBE PC QC

‘The contributors to this volume help lift the fog of war. Based on in-depth field research, rigorous analysis and decades of experience, they throw light on what is happening in Somalia. Crucially, they offer practical ideas about what can be done to reduce the violence and pave the way towards peace. This will be a work of reference for scholars and decision makers alike for years to come.’ — Jeffrey Feltman, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs

‘This volume is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the multiple drivers, dimensions and dynamics of violent conflict in Somalia. It provides insights into the most useful roles that can be played by different actors, including the international community, that wish to advance peace and stability. The expert contributions are lucid, penetrating and cover an immense range of issues, from feuding clans and political grievances, to the enduring threat posed by Al-Shabaab.’  — Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum and former Foreign Minister of Norway.

‘This book addresses the dynamics of conflict in Somalia. It brings together a rich array of insights and practical recommendations on the basis of hard-won experience over the last 30 years. It is necessary reading for anyone committed to preventing and resolving violent conflict and to advancing peace and stability in Somalia.’ — António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, previously United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Prime Minister of Portugal.


Michael Keating was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia from January 2016 to September 2018; he is now the Executive Director of the European Institute of Peace. Previously he was an Associate Director of Chatham House, Deputy UN Special Representative for Afghanistan and Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel.

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