Libya - Security Policy
On 20 September 2017 the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Libya, Dr. Ghassan Salamé, announced an Action Plan for Libya at a High-Level Event on Libya on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. A key stage in this Action Plan was the organisation of a National Conference. The consultation phase of the Libyan National Conference, which ran from April to July 2018, was a broad-based nationwide dialogue process. It aimed to find elements of consensus in Libya’s fragmented political landscape on key issues related to the conflict and the future of the Libyan state. As part of the consultative process, 77 separate meetings were held in 43 locations both inside Libya and abroad. More than 7,000 Libyans from all parts of society took part, a quarter of whom were women.
The issue of how to unify Libya’s military received special attention due to the severity of current divisions. These divisions are widely perceived as a threat to the prospect of building a united nation for all Libyans. Developing a unified military, the participants agreed, was crucial to rebuilding the Libyan nation and state.
The participants agreed to a set of fundamental principles necessary for restoring security and rebuilding the state, including establishing unified military and security institutions as a fundamental precondition for rebuilding the state. A divided military represents the greatest risk to Libya’s present and future.
All military and security institutions should be subject to civil authority and must not be used for political ends. Such institutions must dedicate all efforts to serving the people’s interests and representing their collective will without oppression. The military institution must respect the peaceful transition of powers and commit itself to neutrality in the political sphere, resisting any interference in civil affairs.
The military’s first responsibility must be to protect the nation, its sovereignty, and the unity of its people and lands, while respecting the constitutional order. The competencies of the military and security institutions must be clearly defined and distributed. To avoid institutional overlaps that might negatively affect community security and stability, a clear and detailed definition of the military’s tasks has been developed.
The military’s tasks are defined as follows:
- To defend the nation and its borders and secure vital areas and strategic resources.
- To protect the nation from foreign intervention and all attempts to tamper with the nation’s core interests.
- To guarantee public security and preserve national unity and the stability of the state. In extreme circumstances, the military may intervene to ensure such security and stability.
- To combat all types of terrorism and smuggling in cooperation with security institutions.
The military is a professional body that should strive to enhance collective national belonging amongst all regions and groups. Its organization must be based on objective standards in accordance with defined and agreed-upon military legislation. Further professionalization of the military will require discussion with legal and professional experts and consultation with army officers. Such professionalization will require the following:
- Clearly defined and agreed-upon military legislation, whether by restoring previously adopted laws or by establishing a new legal and regulatory framework.
- Rehabilitation of Libya’s military and security institutions to ensure respect for individual liberties and improved relations with citizens, possibly drawing on UN expertise in this field.
- Establishment of two essential conditions for joining the military and security institutions: proof of Libyan nationality and possession of a National ID number. Appointments to military and security posts must be made without any form of discrimination or favouritism, whether regional, tribal, or cultural. This in turn required that the problem concerning National ID numbers must be solved through the process of collective national reconciliation.
Appointments to military posts should Appointments to military posts should be based solely on standards of efficiency, professionalism, and effectiveness. The practice of granting promotions and ranks to satisfy certain people or groups must be halted. The military justice system should be reactivated, with its scope limited to disputes related to military personnel.
A special force should be established, with appropriate numbers of personnel, equipment and levels of training, to protect vital strategic locations and to secure national resources (oil and water) and national institutions.
In terms of the transition to a permanent state and stable state institutions, some participants suggested that the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces establish official military administrations in all parts of Libya. This would allow the military’s authority to spread throughout all military units in all regions of the country. These administrations may be dissolved after a referendum has taken place and when Libyans have eventually established permanent, stable, and elected institutions.
Some participants called for building trust between the military institutions in the east and west, as well as making every effort to integrate and unite these institutions. Other participants indicated that the presence of militias and brigades in some regions will prevent such trust and integration. Some also proposed that the military units in the east should form the nucleus of the nation’s professional armed forces.
Participants also proposed possible names for the unified military institution, including the “Libyan Army”, the “National Libyan Army” and the “Libyan Armed Forces”. Some stressed the importance of avoiding any name that could be divisive or partisan, since the military belongs to all Libyans.
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