Somalia 1992


During an ongoing civil war between various rebel groups within the country, customary law temporarily collapsed, instigating a multilateral intervention under the leadership of the United Nations, known as UNOSOM, the alliance was tasked with assuring security until humanitarian efforts could be carried out. During 1992, an estimated 350,000 Somalis died of disease, starvation, or civil war. Images of famine and war were shown on American news networks, feeding public pressure, motivating U.S. President George H.W. Bush to order emergency airlifts of food and supplies to Somalia.


Basis of Conflict: An ongoing civil war between multiple ethnic groups, clans and military groups.

Regime Type: Somalia became known as a failed state due to the collapse of customary law and order.

Severity of Crisis: The civil war and violence caused the death of, at least, 350,000 Somalis, from hunger or conflict. Despite the establishment of relative peace in 2009, around 500,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Somalia since the start of the civil war in 1991.


The severity of the crisis motivated much foreign intervention both by organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Nations, and sovereign states, such as the United States. UNOSOM I & II were characteristic peacekeeping missions, which attempted to restore basic law and order. In 1993, the United States intervened, attempted to strategically target group leaders to remove their capability to regroup and act against the United Nations' efforts.  


Somalia, even today, finds itself in turmoil. After incurring heavy casualties between 1992 and 1995, the United Nations forces withdrew, thus allowing military clashes to continue. In 2010, a technocratic government was elected to power and successfully implemented numerous reforms and successfully ousted militant Islamists from the majority of the country. Since 2007, African Union troops have assisted with cleaning up remaining insurgents. In 2014, the United States carried out multiple drone missions as part of the broader mission killed Al-Shabaab leader Moktar Ali Zubeyr.


The Somali civil war acts as a classic case of failed foreign and multilateral intervention. Both the United Nations and the United States suffered severe casualties, while barely improving the humanitarian situation in the country.