The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) organised a Special Panel on Libya on 29 June 2017, in association with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
The panel was moderated by Ms Annyssa Bellal, a Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law at the Genvea Academy. The panelists included Ms Elham Saudi, Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, and Mr Jean-Paul Rouiller, the Terrorism Joint Analysis Group Manager at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Ms Saudi emphasized the challenges facing the political development of the Libyan state and the new constitution, as well as the multipolarity of power given the presence of three governments vying for legitimacy. She explained the lack of conditionality, vetting, and accountability for who becomes part of the government, the central bank’s role in funding the numerous militias, and the governments’ dependence on the support of the militias.
Mr Rouiller covered the involvement of Libyans in jihadist groups and circles, in particular the evolution of Libyans’ involvement in extremist organisations following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. Libyans have occupied powerful, background positions in jihadist groups for decades. Contemporary Libyan fighters are increasingly directing their focus on attacking the West, which represents a major transition from the 1990s and early 2000s.
The panel brought to light the complexities facing a country mired in systemic violence, instability, and fractured, decentralised governance. The risk is extremely high that Libya becomes a bastion for extremism in the years to come. The panelists made it clear that in order to avoid continued chaos and violence in the future, a multipronged effort tackling political corruption, economic inequalities, and the proliferation of arms and extremist groups needs to be made. It cannot be done by Libyans alone, and the involvement and collaboration of its neighbors and stakeholders in the international community, such as Italy, will be critical to bringing about a new, stable, and democratic Libya.
GCSP stands as a forum open to further discussions and efforts at discovering new, creative solutions to resolve the situation.