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Somalia's Chief Negotiator to the WTO resigns after meddling by senior officials

Wednesday June 17, 2020

Maryan Hasasn - via Twitter

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somalia's Chief Negotiator to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has abruptly resigned after two years on the job on Monday, citing subversion by senior officials in the government.

Maryan Hassan's departure from the post will be a blow as Somalia works on ascending to the WTO as a member state.

Somalia's Working Party was established on 7 December 2016 despite not having ever met.

Hassan tendered her resignation on Twitter in a three-thread post.

"Tonight I tendered my resignation to His Excellency, @M_Farmaajo. It has been a huge honour to represent my country at the @WTO in my capacity as Somalia's first Chief Trade Negotiator. Despite the full support of the President, I was undermined at every turn."

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She added that as an educated woman, she was branded as challenging to work with by some of her peers, although it did not deter her from her work.

"I'm a technocrat, not a politician. I keep my head down & do the work. Unfortunately, some senior officials undid our progress last week, leading to a diplomatic crisis. I have been called "difficult" "arrogant" - this does not surprise me - I'm an educated woman, oh well. "

Ms Hassan thanked her colleagues at Villa Somalia and the Federal Government.

"I would like to thank my supportive colleagues at the Villa&FGS. This is my fifth year serving the FGS & so I must also thank the former administration that first submitted Somalia's request to the WTO & of which gave me my start as Chief Legal Adviser to the then PM. END"

Ms Hassan is an accomplished lawyer and legal scholar who worked at the International Arbitration Practice of Al Tamimi & Co, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Somali Mission to the UN in New York. Maryan has advised the Office of the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Somalia on the transfer of Somali prisoners held in custody in various Indian Ocean Island States on piracy charges.

Ms Hassan is a member of the World Bank's International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) panels of arbitrators and conciliators. She also co-founded Somalia's Arbitration Task Force alongside Gary Born. She was recognized for her work in this field by being shortlisted for 'Best Development' in GAR's 2017 awards.

Since 2019, Maryan has been an Obama Foundation Leader, and more recently she joined the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law as a Brandon Research Fellow. She's also worked on the 'TrialWatch' initiative with the Clooney Foundation for Justice. She leads law Students and junior lawyers from the Somali Bar Association (SBA) to monitor and respond to trials that pose a high risk of human rights violations. She was invited to work on the initiative by Mrs Amal Clooney, one of the foundation's founders.

Prior to Chief Negotiator for WTO Accession at the Office of the President, Maryan Hassan was the Chief Legal Adviser to the Prime Minister from Jan 2016 to July 2018.

She said at a WTO conference that she decided to start working in Somalia to thwart greedy foreign investors who were eager to exploit Somalia.

"I got started in Somalia because of the issue with investors. At the time, I was working in Dubai as an international arbitration lawyer, and I was assisting the Attorney General. We found that a lot of investors were coming in and taking advantage of the fragile institutions that existed in Somalia — this is a similar reality faced by most post-conflict countries. These investors wanted to have investments in Somalia without having the proper recourse for our people. I moved myself to Somalia, thinking that I would be able to help, and I have been able to, because without proper arbitration clauses for example, in our agreements there is no protection for our actual traders."

Hassan joins Yussur Abrar in being the second high-profile Somali official to resign from the Federal Government citing interference in their work. Abrar, Somalia's central bank governor from September to November 2013, resigned less than two months into the post after she was pressured to authorize improper deals. Her departure deeply embarrassed the federal government, which was struggling to battle graft and corruption within its ranks.

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