Mar 17, 2014
The 2011 overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi by internationally backed rebel groups has left Libya's new leaders with a number of post-conflict challenges, including establishing security, building political and administrative institutions, and restarting the economy. This report assesses these challenges, the impact of the limited international role in efforts to overcome them, and possible future roles for the international community.
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In 2011, NATO and a number of Arab and other countries backed a rebel overthrow of longstanding Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. When Qaddafi was killed in October, the intervening powers abruptly wrapped up military operations. A small United Nations mission was given responsibility for coordinating post-conflict stabilization support. The essential tasks of establishing security, building political and administrative institutions, and restarting the economy were left almost entirely up to Libya's new leaders. The results of this very limited international approach have been lackluster at best. Libya has fallen behind on a number of critical post-conflict fronts, jihadist groups have made inroads, and there is still a possibility that this newly freed nation could once again collapse into civil war. Although Libya's fate is ultimately in the hands of Libyans themselves, international actors could have done more to help and could still take steps to avert further deterioration of Libya itself as well as the broader region. This report is based on research and interviews with officials in Washington, London, Paris, Brussels, and Tripoli and draws on existing RAND work on post-conflict reconstruction. It explains the challenges that Libya faced after the war, assesses the steps taken to overcome them, draws implications for future post-conflict efforts, and sketches a way forward in Libya itself.
Security After the War
Economic Stabilization and the Oil Economy
Libya's Future Path — Steps for the International Community