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Five years after Libya’s dictator Moammar Gadhafi was deposed in a popular revolution, the country remains trapped in a spiral of deteriorating security, economic crisis, and political deadlock. Trust in the nation’s weak government institutions has fallen to an all-time low as political elites, unable to agree on even a governmental structure, deploy armed militias to control territory and economic assets. An additional challenge comes from ISIS and other violent extremists exploiting the situation to expand operations in Libya. Still, civil society organizations remain active and committed to laying the foundation for a unity government capable of rebuilding the state. Meanwhile, a new, internationally recognized Government of National Accord—the product of a two-year, United Nations-led process—continues its struggle to establish legitimacy and a measure of control beyond the capital.

USIP’s Work

The U.S. Institute of Peace was among the first organizations to enter Libya after the uprising began and is well-positioned to help the country try to stabilize during its transition. By conducting analysis, programming, and policy development in Libya’s volatile environment, USIP seeks to ease the country’s violent conflicts. Recent work in Libya includes:

Alliance of Libyan Facilitators -- USIP offers training and support to Libyan professionals, including civil society leaders, lawyers, and journalists, who serve as mediators and facilitators to manage and resolve conflicts in their communities without violence. This USIP-supported network helps them share conflict-management resources and experiences to advance their work.

Judicial Prisons Assessment for Dialogue and Reform -- USIP’s involvement in prison management and reform in Libya has included analyzing prison and detention standards in 2012 and 2015; helping the judicial police and Ministry of Justice with strategic planning in 2013; working on transitional prison regulations with the U.S. Department of State and local prison directors in 2014; and participating in a United Nations-led effort to draft a code of conduct for prison staff in September 2015.

Applied Research -- USIP researches topics critical to understanding Libya’s needs in its transition, including through meetings with key stakeholders across the country. Studies include examining the role of tribalism in oversight of justice and security, and the part tribes play in post-revolutionary Libya’s political and social life; a comparative analysis of policing structures in Libya, which builds off previous research; and an exploration by a USIP Jennings Randolph fellow of local factors that affect radicalization of youth and their recruitment into violent extremist groups in Libya.

Policy Planning -- In addition to encouraging continued U.S. and international engagement in Libya, USIP convened a policy planning discussion on the country in Washington in May 2015. This conference, entitled “Supporting Justice and Security Locally in Libya,” explored recent experiences of Libyans in developing strategies and mechanisms—state, quasi-state and non-state—that promote peace, justice, and security locally.

Regional Taskforce for Security Sector Development -- Growing out of USIP’s work on security sector reform in the Maghreb and Sahel, the taskforce consists of 15 government, law enforcement, and civil society representatives from across the regions, including from Libya. The taskforce advances institutional reform through individual and collective initiatives that strengthen the rule of law, counter violent extremism, and prepare stakeholders to undertake reform.

USIP Events

USIP frequently hosts events that bring together thought leaders, scholars, experts, policymakers, and elected officials to discuss peacebuilding efforts around the world and analyze current affairs. USIP has held numerous off-the-record roundtables on Libya with Libyan and U.S. figures. In March 2016, the Institute hosted Martin Kobler, Special Representative for the U.N. Secretary-General, for a conversation on the role and future of the unity government backed by the U.N. Support Mission in Libya.

USIP Publications

USIP staff and experts publish in-depth reports as well as short, timely policy briefs that distill expert research, lessons learned, and solutions to advance peacebuilding. Recent publications on Libya include:

Regional Security Through Inclusive Reform in the Maghreb and the Sahel (December 2015) Governments throughout the region are struggling to manage a security environment fundamentally transformed by the Arab Spring. Theirefforts to secure their territory and civil society’s work to encourage accountable and transparent security institutions have proceeded almost wholly divorced from each other. This report shares insights from engagement between official and civil society actors within and across borders, and argues for working regionally.

Customary Practice and Restorative Justice in Libya: A Hybrid Approach (May 2015) Libya’s central government remains extremely fragile, as the nation routinely experiences explosions, assassinations, kidnappings, and fighting between militias. This report highlights some of the opportunities for, and obstacles to, restorative justice in such a chaotic transitional setting. Its goal is to spark debate among scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and civil society actors about the current potential of the system of reconciliation in Libya.

The Role of Media in Shaping Libya's Security Sector Narratives (April 2015) During and after Libya’s revolution, national media outlets were popular for their balanced reporting. The country‘s media now has become polarized and a tool for a confusing array of institutional and non-institutional actors, all of whom claim legitimacy. This report examines three leading television channels to offer insights into the media’s role in shaping public perceptions and building political constituencies.

Toward a Rule of Law Culture (December 2015) This guide is the product of a two-year partnership between USIP and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Counterterrorism, during which USIP designed, developed and piloted a foundation rule of law course for the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law. The four five-day pilot courses were delivered between November 2014 and July 2015 to mid- and senior-level legal, penal, police, judicial, and civil society personnel from 15 countries across Africa and the Middle East. The courses primarily focused on countries in transition.

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