Eight years after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya continues to struggle to end its violent conflict and build state institutions. External actors have exacerbated Libya’s problems by funneling money and weapons to proxies that have put personal interests above those of the Libyan people. U.N. efforts to broker a lasting peace have failed and been overshadowed by competing peace conferences sponsored by various foreign governments. Meanwhile, Libya’s borders remain porous, particularly in the southern Fezzan, facilitating an increase in trafficking and smuggling of illicit materials, including weapons. 

At the subnational level, many local conflicts reflect long-standing feuds between various factions, tribes, and ethnic groups. In the shadow of the ongoing conflict around Tripoli, the prospects for a political solution are dimmed by the country’s deep political and tribal divides. .

USIP’S Work

Since 2011, USIP’s approach in Libya has focused on building a strong local infrastructure for peace, strengthening the capacity of key constituencies like youth and women, and facilitating local dialogues between groups in conflict. These local institutions will be crucial to the success of any eventual transitional justice effort, creating a constructive platform to address grievances and reduce polarization and violence. USIP’s work is meant to empower Libyans with the tools necessary to contribute to a sustainable peace.

Recent projects include:

Convening Community Dialogues in Three Conflict-Affected Locations

USIP partnered with key community actors and civic leaders from Sebha, Ubari, and Nalut-Siyaan from 2018-2020 to convene local dialogues on transitional justice and conflict resolution. In 2020, USIP will support these individuals, in partnership with international organizations like the World Food Programme, as they implement post-dialogue activities intended to build community trust and to strengthen social cohesion.

Strengthening the Security Sector and Rule of Law

The increasing presence of nonstate armed groups and their cooptation of traditional security services has resulted in inconsistent—and sometimes inhumane—law enforcement practices and treatment of inmates in correctional facilities. Libya’s dilapidated prisons are incubators for radicalization and extremist recruitment and also allow nonstate armed groups to engage in self-interested and predatory practices.

USIP’s projects promote the rule of law and the constructive involvement of local communities in security issues. These projects evaluate the criminal justice sector, strengthen capacities of justice officials, and develop collaborative problem-solving. USIP conducts workshops with the Ministry of Justice and other officials to improve the conditions for juvenile offenders and support women advocating for reconciliation in Misrata and Tawergha.

Improving Youth Conflict Management Skills.

USIP is improving the conflict analysis and prevention skills of youth across the country through youth-led projects intended to prevent recruitment by extremist groups. In Ubari, USIP seeded an organization called “I Am a Volunteer,” focused on reconciliation and collaboration between tribes. In Brak Al-Shati, a youth leader, with the support of USIP, successfully advocated for the addition of a youth representative on the municipal council. Alwaan, a Facebook page with almost 50,000 followers, chronicles these success stories and inspires other Libyan youth. In 2020, USIP will convene decision-makers and youth in dialogue around pressing issues in eastern Libya.

Informing Policy Through Groundbreaking Research.

USIP works with local partners to produce unique, timely, and policy-relevant research. Previously, USIP partnered with UNDP to ensure their Stabilization Facility for Libya project in Sebha was sensitive to local dynamics. To date, USIP has produced reports covering: the state of prisons and detention, the significance of tribal authorities and their role in justice and security, the prospects of elections, and the secure release of sensitive detainees. Future research will focus on drug trafficking, juvenile detention, conflict dynamics around Libya’s borders, and issues facing youth in southern Libya.

 

Related Publications

Amid Libyan Crisis, Two Hostile Towns Build a Basis for Peace

Amid Libyan Crisis, Two Hostile Towns Build a Basis for Peace

Monday, June 1, 2020

By: Abigail Corey; Esra Elbakoush

Libya’s escalated warfare and the COVID pandemic are hindering formal diplomacy and thus prolonging the risks the conflict poses—from the Mediterranean to Africa’s Sahel region. Yet even as international peacemaking on Libya is stalled, long-time foes in the country’s west have overcome old enmities to cooperate amid the coronavirus crisis. It is the latest of several grassroots advances in Libya that show how local dialogues can build peace amid warfare—even when global diplomacy is impeded.

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Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Global Health

Illicit Drug Trafficking and Use in Libya: Highs and Lows

Illicit Drug Trafficking and Use in Libya: Highs and Lows

Thursday, May 28, 2020

By: Fiona Mangan

This report explores how illicit drug trafficking and drug use in Libya has shaped and been shaped by the country’s ongoing conflict. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and dedicated research, it examines Libya’s pre-2011 illicit economy, delves into the social impact of drugs, and focuses on drug use on the frontlines of Libya’s ongoing conflict, the corrosive impact of drug trafficking and use on the justice and security sector, and how trafficking and organized crime undercut peacebuilding and state consolidation.

Type: Peaceworks

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Peace in Libya will Have To Start with its People

Peace in Libya will Have To Start with its People

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

By: Thomas M. Hill

For nearly nine years, Libyans have lived through war and political turmoil. The country has become a place for regional heavyweights and aspiring major powers to advance self-interests, often at the expense of the Libyan people. International attention and the recent peace conference in Berlin have focused on the role of external actors who violate U.N. arms embargoes, funnel money to militants, and incite violence through propaganda.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Coronavirus Shows Why Libya Needs to Build its Institutions

Coronavirus Shows Why Libya Needs to Build its Institutions

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

By: Nate Wilson

Even before the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, Libya’s health system—like many of the country’s institutions—was in crisis. The country’s public health infrastructure has been neglected since the 2011 uprising and even before it was in need of a fundamental overhaul. On top of that, many of the foreign medics in Libya fled following the conflict in 2011 and have not returned.

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Democracy & Governance; Global Health

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