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The Law of the Somalis
A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa
by Michael Van Notten
- Release date: March 30, 2007
- Language: english
- Author: Michael Van Notten
- Genres: somalia, africa
- Format: paperback, 272 pages
- ISBN: 9781569022504 (156902250X)
- Publisher: Red Sea Press,U.S.
About The Book
This book details many striking features of Somali customary law. It is compensatory, for example, rather than punitive. Instead of being imprisoned or otherwise punished, law breakers are required to compensate their victims. A victim seldom fails to receive compensation, moreover, because every Somali is insured by near kin against his or her liabilities under the law. Being based on custom, Somali law has no need of legislation or legislators, hence is happily free of political influences. Even so, the author points out areas in the law that are in need of change. These do not require legislation, however; many desirable changes, such as ending restrictions on the sale of land and enhancing the status of women, are implicit in economic development. As for the Somali political system, not only is there no need to set up a democracy, the author clearly shows why any attempt to do so must inevitably produce chaos. This book by a trained and sympathetic observer shows how, viewed in global perspective, Somali law stands with the Latin and Medieval laws and the English common law against the statutory law that originated in continental Europe with the modern nation state. It explains many seeming anomalies about present-day Somalia and describes its prospects as well as the dangers facing it. Born in Zeist, the Netherlands, in 1933, Michael van Notten graduated from Leiden University in Law and was admitted into practice in Rotterdam. He later served with a New York law firm and directed the Institution Europaeum, a Belgium-based policy research organization. In the early 1990s, he became interested in the prospect of Somalia developing in the modern world of a stateless society, and for the next twelve years, he studied Somali customary law. A keen analyst of the intricacies of clan politics, he traveled fearlessly in war-torn Somalia. He died in Nimes, France, on June 5th, 2002
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