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Kick-off conference on the role of law in Libya’s national reconciliation

On 11 and 12 April, the kick-off conference “The role of law in Libya’s national reconciliation” took place. The conference marked the official start of a research project by the Van Vollenhoven Institute of Leiden University and the Centre for Law and Society Studies of the University of Benghazi on reconciliation in Libya.

The conference

The conference, which took place at the Center for International Legal Cooperation in The Hague, addressed the topic of national reconciliation in Libya, and focused on five key areas of concern around which there exist major disagreements hindering this reconciliation; national governance, decentralization, transitional justice, security forces, and national identity.

The conference was well attended by scholars, embassy staff, people working at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Non-Governmental Organizations. Birgitta Tazelaar (Director of the Middle East and North Africa Department in The Hague) and Eric Strating (Ambassador of the Netherlands Embassy in Libya) were invited to open the conference. Experts from Libya attended and shared their ideas and experiences with Dutch scholars throughout several sessions, each one focusing on one of these key areas of the research.

Examples of the multitude of topics addressed during the conference are: the formation and composition of national institutions, the devolution of powers and competencies to regional and local levels, the formation of national army, and the role of religious and tribal leaders in providing transitional justice. The second day of the conference was dedicated entirely to the topic of national identity, as this will be the focus of the research project in the coming months.

The research project: “the role of law in Libya’s national reconciliation”

The conference is part of a large research project conducted by the Van Vollenhoven Institute of Leiden University and the Centre for Law and Society Studies of the University of Benghazi, with support of the Netherlands Embassy in Tripoli. Led by senior researcher Suliman Ibrahim, the project will identify and assess the role of law with regard to major challenges of national reconciliation from a socio-legal perspective. As such, it will combine legal analysis, consultations with stakeholders, and interviews. The research project is to be conducted from 2018 to 2020.