Thursday, December 13, 2012

Peacebuilding in Libya

This is an excerpt from an essay I have wrote for one of my classes.  I shall put up the whole essay in a month or so, but this is the most important part of the essay.  This expert examines the peace operations in Libya. .. If anything does not make sense, you are probably lacking context so read the full essay when it's up :p .
 Libya is an interesting case because it is often hailed as a successful peace operation in the media. As you will see below, I agree with this point even though there are still a lot of uncertainties when it comes to Libya's case. P.S. I'll fix the footnotes in a week or so :P And sorry... this is going to be very dry, but in my defense it's an excerpt from an essay and its very hard to make academic writing fun :P .

Image taken from UNSMIL website
The Case of Libya


National Transitional Council has been established and recognized as legitimate government by 30 countries even before the end of the war.  Following the declaration of liberation in October 2011, NTC organized a national election of General National Congress on July 7th, 2012. In October 2012, the GNC elected Ali Zeidan who became the country’s Prime Minister in charge of creating transition coalition government.[1] He chose his government representatives from two biggest blocs in the Congress the Alliance of National Forces, led and the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party. [2] In addition, the GNC will create “constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution which will be submitted to a referendum in 2013.”[3]
Although there have been protests about the make-up of the cabinet, they should be viewed as an acceptable form of voicing ones discontent with political or social issues. The reconstruction of the Libyan political system has been largely positive. Indeed, it met three of the aforementioned requirements of the peacebuilding process: transitional government, elections and elected government. Moreover, there is a lot of internal political support in favour of current political change. For example, the Benghazi part of the February 17th Coalition, which was part of revolution from the first protest, has decided to dissolve because of “their desire to submit to a single legitimate authority which the NTC represented”.[4] The Coalition refuses to take position of “revolutionary command council”, because they believe that “resort to ‘revolutionary legitimacy’ [might threaten] stability and democratic transformation.”[5] In addition, the Libyan Brotherhood has expressed their support for civil state, democracy or ‘moderate’ Islamic state and civil society. [6] Even the some of the radicals are supporting the regime change. The leader of the Libyan Fighting Group, Bilhaj, has expressed “on numerous political occasions and media appearances his commitment to the establishment of a democratic state, he has recently announced the establishment of the Islamic Movement for Change” that has publicly defended the national political agenda.[7]
 However, it should be noted that security sector reform component of peacebuilding is still incomplete. The NTC had issues imposing its political will because it lacks legitimacy, and therefore it is unable to back its will by force.[8] This will likely change with the newly elected government, but it is too early to say so definitively. Similarly, institutional reform in army, police and judicial sectors in order to achieve “a functioning law enforcement apparatus” has not been yet been achieved for the same reason.
The key issue in security sector is the militias. The local councils that are in charge of administrating cities have military components to them but they do not have full control of those components.[9]  Thus militias are controlling the streets, while not under the control of the government. Indeed, militias never combined into one united force during, or after the conflict, and are now ruling over their own sections of territory thus undermining the authority of the elected government.[10] In addition, the previously mentioned Islamic Movement for Change “has been busy arming itself and forming loyal armed brigades”, while giving a supporting political rhetoric in favour of the regime.[11] Indeed, the security sector disorder has manifested itself in the attack on the US embassy in September, with a result of 4 deaths - one of which was the US ambassador. However, there is hope that with time the elected government will acquire more power and will be able to get the security sector under its control. Indeed, the Libyan people are tired of fighting and want security, which has been demonstrated by the revolt against militias in response to attacks on US embassy.[12] This has given the government the opportunity to “take more concentrated action to consolidate military forces under its command.”[13] One of the ways suggested of reintegrating militias into society is with “a combination of financial rewards, promise of adequate social standing, and above all, assurances that laying down their arms will not jeopardize their safety or that of their community.”[14] However, this can only be done by the elected legitimate government. Indeed, even though there is also still a lot of peacebuilding to be done in economic development, social rehabilitation and regulatory reform, it should be done by the elected government rather than outside forces or foreign diplomats. Otherwise, the process will not to be deemed legitimate and acceptable by the local people.
Currently, UN peacebuilding mission is headed by UN Support Mission in Libya that was created in order to “assist the Libyan authorities to define national needs and priorities throughout Libya, and to match these with offers of strategic and technical advice where appropriate.”[15] It is meant to provide support in the following areas: democratic transition, Rule of Law & Human Right, Security Sector Reform, International Assistance Coordination and countering of illicit proliferation of arms. If UNSMIL follows its mandate closely, then it will be a positive force in Libya. However, it must be careful not to highjack the transition and state-building process from the Libyan people and government in order to install the Western values. If the Libyan people believe that changes in their political system are coming from outside, then they will be less likely to trust it and more likely to rebel against it.

[1] World Bank, Libya Overview, Sep. 2012, 10 Dec.2012 <>.
[2] BBC News, Libyan Parliament Approves New Government, 13 Oct.2012, 10 Dec.2012 <>.
[3] World Bank, Libya Overview, Sep. 2012, 10 Dec.2012, <>.
[4] Ibid. 17.
[5] Ibid. 17.
[6] Ibid. 17.
[7] Ibid. 19.
[8] Youssef Mohammad Sawani, “Post-Qadhafi Libya: Interactive Dynamics and the Political Future,” Contemporary Arab Affairs, 5:1 (2012): 9.
[9] Ibid. 16.
[10] Christopher S. Chivvis, Keith Crane, Peter Mandaville, Jeffrey Martini, “Libya’s Post- Qaddafi Transition: The Nation-Building Challenge,” RAND Corporation (2012): 4.
[11] Ibid. 19.
[12] Ibid. 3.
[13] Ibid. 5.
[14] Ibid. 6.
[15] UNSMIL, UNSMIL Mandate, 10 Dec.2012 <>.

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