Al Jazeera Centre for Studies released a new book entitled, Qadat Libya as-Sa’idun: Aswat Gheir Masmu’a la Jil Qadim (Unheard Voices of the Next Generation: Emergent Leaders in Libya), authored by several writers and researchers in conjunction with the 11th anniversary of the 17 February revolution that ousted Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.
The book is composed of a group of articles and research papers that discuss different political and social topics - such as the politicisation of the tribe, the status of women, terrorism, irregular immigration, the status of human rights, regional and international intervention, government rotation and so on – written mostly by Libyan youth. Perhaps that is what distinguishes it, as it enables readers to grasp the youth’s vision of the crises and challenges that the Libyan society faces and get acquainted with the youth’s perception of the solution and a future Libya.
This is the Arabic version of Unheard Voices of the Next Generation: Emergent Leaders in Libya, which was originally published in English under the supervision of the World Youth Leadership Network affiliated with the Transatlantic Leadership Network in the United States.
Qadat Libya as-Sa’idun also explores the most prominent problems and challenges facing Libya, both as a state and a society, from the perspective of its authors who present what they believe is a solution to the problems and a vision of how to deal with the challenges. It draws a number of conclusions, the most prominent of which being: with regards to immigration, that it is important – in order for this dossier to be managed efficiently – for Libya to initiate by ratifying the 1951 refugee convention and work towards developing the asylum legislation currently in force because, despite the inclusion of the right of asylum in Article 10 of the 2011 Interim Constitutional Declaration in Libya, no implementing regulations have been put in place for it. Asylum seekers are still treated like immigrants, and thus are subject to indefinite detention in harsh conditions. Dealing with the immigration dossier efficiently, as per the recommendations in the book, would address many other problems, including the illegal trade, especially that of drugs, weapons and smuggled goods, and human trafficking, all of which are criminal acts carried out by organised gangs. Recently, armed groups fighting in Libya replaced these gangs, and the proceeds of their activities were used in that illegal trade to fuel the civil war. The solution proposed by the book lies in setting new immigration policies and legislations and adopting a new policy that takes the necessities of Libyan development into account on the one hand and respects human rights on the other.
With regard to the problem of arrests during non-international conflicts, as seen in Libya, the book reviews its causes and reasons and recommends the development of the current international humanitarian law, which does not accommodate the Libyan case and many other similar cases in which detention outside the authority of the state occurs often.
As for violence, especially related to religious extremism, after the book sheds light on it through the case of religious violence in Benghazi, it concludes that the escalation of extremism and the intensification of the wave of violence and terrorism is attributed to the rule of the individual and the tyranny that accompanies it first and foremost, and that democracy, giving a voice to the marginalised and making room for political solutions to replace the conflict is the way to end it.
Moreover, the book examines the Libyan judicial system and the stages it went through. It concludes that there is an urgent need to establish an independent judiciary that serves citizens according to international legal standards, and that the path to this is through the complete independence of the Supreme Judicial Council. This is because it fosters the separation of powers, protects state institutions and strengthens the independence of the judiciary, as it comes through the constitution and Libyan law, which must adopt a set of criteria and procedures for appointing, promoting and removing members of the judiciary and regulating disciplinary measures taken against them in accordance with stable judicial behaviour. The executive authority must not have a role in appointing members of the council in order to ensure the complete separation of powers and eliminate any possible political influence on the judiciary.
In addition, the book deals with the problem of the politicisation of tribalism in Libyan society, both during the era of Gaddafi, who strengthened tribal identity and placed it at the top of the hierarchy of power in an attempt to abolish Western liberal influence in the country and prevent democratic elections, or through the attempts of General Khalifa Haftar, who revived and exploited tribal strife in Libya to reach power, especially after announcing Operation Dignity in 2014.
It also touches on the formation of the Libyan state and maintains that the current disintegration of power and the proliferation of militias and criminal organisations are due to the absence of institutions as a result of Gaddafi’s totalitarian rule as well as the spread of a confused political culture that was infiltrated and directed by various political actors after the 17 February revolution.
As for Libyan women, Qadat Libya as-Sa’idun portrays their status under the rule of both Gaddafi and Haftar. It argues that both Gaddafi and Haftar made diligent efforts to make women submit to the regime and owe it allegiance, using all kinds of propaganda, including the use of progressive feminist discourse. But the truth is that they exploited women and abused their rights.
Incidentally, the book explains that the West, in the context of settling the Lockerbie crisis, and in an attempt to disarm weapons of mass destruction and end the Libyan nuclear programme, accepted the re-float of the Gaddafi regime and its marketing once again to the international community regardless of its seriousness in the democratic transition. The country, despite the revolution, still lacks democracy and human rights.
About the economic policies that can push development advancement in the country, the book holds that Specialised Economic Zones (SEZ) can be the locomotive of development in this matter if they are organised properly and accompanied by an appropriate legal framework, the acquisition of new skills for work, the improvement of the educational system, the establishment of joint projects with international partners, and the development of the health system through competitive requirements determined by the institution of the Special Economic Zones Corporation. It even presents various examples of international experiences of the specialised economic zones so that Libya could choose the most suitable for it.
After the book’s review of the challenges faced by successive Libyan governments that contributed to the formation of the state in the past decade, and after it sheds light on the extent of the impact of the Gaddafi era on the activities of the National Transitional Council, the General National Congress and the Government of National Accord, it argues that the need for those governments to distance themselves from internal conflicts and regional and international interactions in order to manage the state and reliev the burden on the shoulders of citizens is an urgent one.
Finally, the book ends with a story of a Libyan girl who represents a new generation that decides to overcome existing political and social challenges and succeeds in doing so through good education and by serving society with a new mentality and a strong spirit.
The book can be read (in Arabic) and downloaded here.