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Public lectures and debate

Exchanges on the Middle East III / Henriette van Lynden lecture | Libya: Prospects for Peace and Reconciliation

  • Claudia Gazzini
  • Tarek Mitri
  • Youssef Sawani
Date
7 December 2017
Time
Explanation
No fee, but registration is required. Lecture starts at 20:00.
Address
De Rode Hoed
Keizersgracht 102
1015 CV Amsterdam

Exchanges on the Middle East III / Henriette van der Lynden lecture

Libya: Prospects for Peace and Reconciliation

Over six years after the 2011 February Uprising that ended Gaddafi’s dictatorship, Libya has become a deeply troubled country. Subsequent governments failed to deliver on their objectives of building a unified, secure, capable, democratic and just state. Yet, neither the Libyan people nor the international community would like to see Libya fail as a state. For most Libyans this is obvious. The international community is concerned about the humanitarian situation as well as Libya being a source of instability and a safe haven for migrant smugglers and extremist groups.

No admission fee but registration is required, register here.

Moderator | Suliman Ibrahim

Suliman Ibrahim is an Assistant Professor of private law at Benghazi University, Libya, and the director of the Centre for Law and Society Studies (CLSS) in Benghazi. He is currently a visiting senior researcher at the Van Vollenhoven Institute where he coordinates a project on assessing legislation for Libya’s reconstruction executed by the VVI and CLSS. Suliman Ibrahim did a PhD in Law at Lancaster University, United Kingdom, where he graduated in 2008.

Speakers

Claudia Gazzini

Claudia Gazzini holds a PhD in Middle Eastern History from Oxford University, and was a researcher at the European University Institute in Florence and a visiting fellow at the Northwestern University. Her academic research on Libya has been published in various outlets, including the Middle East Report and the Arab Media and Society journal. She served as senior analyst for Libya for the International Crisis Group from 2012 to 2017, before joining UNSMIL as policy advisor to the current Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Ghassan Salamé.

Tarek Mitri

Tarek Mitri received his PhD in political science from the University of Paris X, and was a lecturer at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. His main areas of interest include the history and sociology of Christian-Muslim relations. He held several ministerial positions in Lebanon, including Minister of Culture and Minister of Foreign Affairs. From 2012 to 2014, he was the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). He currently serves as the Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Relations at the American University of Beirut. 

Youssef Sawani

Youssef Sawani is Professor of Politics and International Relations at Tripoli University. He was Director of the Qadhafi Foundation before resigning in February 2011 to join the uprising. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Institute for Arab Unity Studies, and editor of the journal Contemporary Arab Affairs. His publications include ‘The February 17 Intifada in Libya: disposing of the regime and the issues of state-building,’ in Ricardo Laremont (ed), Revolution, Revolt and Reform in North Africa (Routledge, 2013).

Public lectures and debate

National reconciliation in Libya?

National reconciliation appears to be the key precondition for state-building and pursuing the abovementioned objectives, but is hampered by a number of core problems:

  • Libyan society is divided by several political, social and military fault lines;
  • there is a lack of consensus among major political actors about several major governance issues;
  • there is no united army or police force due to the existence of armed groups which for different reasons maintained their autonomy and refuse to hand over their arms and be incorporated in legitimate national army and police forces;
  • external powers, by either supporting one party or another, exacerbate existing divisions. 

Still, most actors recognize that the only future for Libya lies in national political agreement and reconciliation. Processes of national dialogue have seen some successes too. On 17 December 2015 the international community and many Libyans welcomed the new UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), which detailed a sensible course of action. Since then, its implementation has been challenged, amongst others by the elected House of Representatives (Tobruk) and General Hafter. On 17 December 2017 the LPA is to expire.

On the eve of the expiration of the LPA, this series of encounters will address the regional, political, religious, and tribal fault lines which have kept Libya divided, identify strategic actors and groups which may decisively help to bring about reconciliation, and discuss major issues of governance which remain to be solved, including the control of the armed forces and the police.

About Exchanges on the Middle East

Exchanges on the Middle East is a collaboration between the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS), and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs North Africa and Middle East Department.

Convenors

Jan-Michiel Otto

Prof.dr. Jan Michiel Otto (1952) is professor of Law and Governance in Developing Countries and director of the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society. He studied law at Leiden University and specialised in development administration at both Leiden and the Free University of Amsterdam.

Suliman Ibrahim

Suliman Ibrahim is an Assistant Professor of private law at Benghazi University, Libya, and the director of the Centre for Law and Society Studies (CLSS) in Benghazi. He is currently a visiting senior researcher at the Van Vollenhoven Institute where he coordinates a project on assessing legislation for Libya’s reconstruction executed by the VVI and CLSS. 

Karin Wester

Karin Wester is a Dutch diplomat with broad experience in the field of peace and security, international law, human rights, the UN, the EU, the Middle East, and cultural diplomacy. She has a background in journalism and cultural history and recently finished a PhD on the principle of the Responsibility to Protect and the intervention in Libya in 2011. She is currently the Strategic Policy Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.