The United States Special Envoy to Libya, Ambassador Richard Norland said that the new 10-year Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability in Libya announced by President Joe Biden “builds upon constructive partnerships and community-level programs that support the Libyan people’s aspirations for stability, accountability, and responsive governance.”
In a thread published on the US Embassy’s Twitter account, Norland said that such an initiative “underscores the U.S. commitment to stand with the Libyan people.” He added that this initiative “supports progress toward a democratically elected unified government, that can deliver public services and promote economic growth in all areas.”
Notably, President Biden submitted to Congress 10-Year Plans aimed at implementing US strategies to prevent conflict and promote stability in six African countries, including Libya, according to a statement issued by the White House on Friday.
According to the statement, the plan orients US efforts toward the ultimate long-term political goal that Libya is “governed by a democratically elected, unified, representative, and internationally recognized authority that is able to ensure human rights, deliver public services, promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, secure its borders, and partner with the United States and international community on shared priorities.”
However, the plan acknowledges the need for an “incremental, tailored, and scalable approach given the current national-level political uncertainties, and practical limitations for US engagement and assistance within Libya.”
In the near term, the plan focuses on a “grass-roots, localized approach to support citizen-responsive democratic local governance, and nascent but promising locally-led reconciliation initiatives.” Southern Libya is the focal point of initial sequenced efforts which incrementally build toward progress in all three major regions of Libya, and ultimately through the critical sub-regions of the Sahel and Coastal West Africa.
The plan will focus over time on creating the necessary conditions to hold democratic elections over the longer term (e.g., citizen engagement, consensus-building, constitutional reform, violence mitigation, and reconciliation efforts). As well as addressing political roadblocks that have obstructed credible elections to date.
The plan will promote inclusion, seeking to increase the participation and representation of women, youths, and other groups traditionally marginalized and underrepresented in Libya’s polity. Fostering more inclusive political and economic processes in Libya will help build the resilience needed for longer-term peace and stability.
This tailored and scalable approach will be applied across four overarching objectives that will guide diplomatic, development, and security engagement:
Objective 1: Libya advances its transition to a unified, democratically-elected, stable political system that has broad participation by, and acceptance from, Libyan society, and can effectively and equitably deliver targeted public services and protect the human rights of all Libyans.
Objective 2: Libya better integrates the historically marginalized South into national structures, leading to broader unification and securing the southern border.
Objective 3: Libya progresses towards a civilian-controlled, unified military and security apparatus, with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force that is capable of maintaining stability and contributing to regional security goals.
Objective 4: Libya’s economic and business environment fosters sustainable and equitable economic growth, mitigates corruption, and enables better management of revenue.
The United States will marshal and align diplomacy, foreign assistance, and other tools to advance these four objectives in a sequenced fashion.
The US government will work to increase engagement with, and support for sub-national, local municipal, and civil society actors, especially in southern Libya at the start, who are advancing reconciliation, community-based dialogues, and inclusive service delivery.
This support will include new efforts to boost economic opportunities and financial inclusion for marginalized groups. At the same time, the US government will continue to marshal support, including through the UN-led political process, for a political solution among Libya’s leaders that can pave the way for broader reconciliation and eventual elections.
Partnerships with reform-minded actors and institutions are key to realizing the vision outlined in this plan, and scaling up US efforts over time. The United States will continue to pursue high-level diplomacy to encourage political processes that can create openings for expanded engagement, and assistance across these objectives.
Inherent in the strategic approach are strong learning and feedback loops that will engage Libyan perspectives throughout implementation, leverage local capacity, strengthen coordination mechanisms with local actors for strategic planning and evaluation, and support local buy-in and oversight. The American government will invest in working groups with local partners, as well as other international donors, to facilitate ongoing dialogue and coordination.
Notably, the United States is committed to helping Libyans in their ongoing struggle for a more peaceful, stable, unified future.
Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, Libya has faced division and violent conflict. A nationwide ceasefire agreement in October 2020 paused the fighting, creating space for the UN-facilitated Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF). This elected a new unified interim government and produced a political roadmap to hold national elections.
While that roadmap has since stalled and militia tensions around Tripoli increased, the US and international partners are actively engaged in diplomacy to help Libya take concrete steps toward a unified government, inclusive and democratic governance, and political stability.
External actors continue to exploit the unstable situation in Libya, posing a threat to NATO’s southern flank, and further destabilizing the Sahel region. Southern Libya is of particular focus, as malign actors take advantage of fragile local governance systems to seek safe havens for terrorist and illicit activities.