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Libya

Libya

Last updated in June 2017

Politics

Germany and Libya have maintained mutual relations since Libya gained independence in 1955. Since the revolution of 17 February 2011, the Federal Government has assisted the country in its transition to democracy. Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Federal Economics Minister Rösler visited Libya in 2011 and 2012. On account of the critical developments in Libya’s political and security situation since early 2014, it has subsequently proved impossible to intensify political relations to the extent desired by both sides. Since late July 2014, the German Embassy in Tripoli has been temporarily relocated to Tunis. On 16 April 2016, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault paid a joint visit to Libya, where they held talks with a number of officials, including representatives of the Presidential Council and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, to underscore the international community’s willingness to help bring peace and stability to Libya.


A fresh start after the fall of Gaddafi

Libya faced a fresh start following the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. Fourty-two years of dictatorship (marked by repression, lack of institutional transparency and international isolation) and the fighting leading to the fall of Gaddafi had left deep wounds in Libyan society. At the same time, the country had to rebuild its government infrastructure (including its security forces). Working together with the international community (the European Union and the United Nations), Germany offered Libya support in building democratic institutions and implementing political and economic reforms.


Assistance in rebuilding government structures

The key advisory body in rebuilding government infrastructure is the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). In coordination with this body and members of the international community, Germany is actively supporting Libya in its efforts to rebuild state structures. Germany has provided targeted assistance, including help with arms disposal and control as well as in the following sectors: building and developing regional structures, health care, media and building civil society. Germany has also supported Libya in its capacity as a member of the G7 – under the Deauville Partnership set up in May 2011 – for instance on the issue of restitution of misappropriated assets. However, the political crisis in Libya caused the international community to largely withdraw from the country in autumn 2014. Since then, Germany has also had to scale back the projects it is conducting there.


Economy

Once a peace settlement has been reached, Libya could become a potentially interesting market for German companies, especially in the energy, infrastructure, medical, education and vocational training sectors. However, that would require patience and a presence in the country. Current risks – besides the security situation – include legal uncertainty, a dysfunctional judicial system, a strongly regulated labour market and poor payment morale. With regard to existing liabilities dating back to the Gaddafi era, the Libyan government reaffirmed in 2014 that these could in principle be called in, provided the creditor company was willing to resume the provision of goods or services. It is uncertain to what extent the government is currently in a position to fulfil this promise.


Development cooperation

Humanitarian aid / humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance / Transformation Partnership

Immediately after the outbreak of fighting in February 2011, Germany provided EUR 8 million in humanitarian aid in an effort to alleviate the immediate suffering of those affected. In 2015, a total of EUR 3.55 million was made available to fund humanitarian aid measures by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UNHCR and local organisations. For 2016, too, funding of several million euros has already been earmarked for Red Cross and UNICEF aid projects. Other options for providing support are currently being looked at. In addition, for 2016 the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has already pledged EUR 4 million to UNICEF. 

As part of humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance, the Federal Foreign Office provided initial funding worth EUR 750,000 Euro to set up a Libyan authority to secure conventional weapons and ammunition and clear unexploded ordnance (Libyan Mine Action Centre, LibMAC).

From the end of 2011 to the end of 2013, the Federal Foreign Office provided a total of more than EUR 3 million to fund humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance projects.

Under the Transformation Partnership with Libya, some EUR 3.2 million was provided to fund a host of projects in the years after 2011 up to 2015. These measures, which are to be continued in the coming years, focus on strengthening government structures and institutions/capacity building, in particular at regional and municipal level (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ), supporting the (re-)building of a civilian security sector and promoting professional media and information portals (including the training of journalists) in order to ensure objective coverage of local, regional and supraregional issues/conflicts.

Weapons disposal

Germany has also helped with the disposal of mines and ordnance, with measures to ensure the safe storage of weapons and ammunition, with capacity building and with efforts to secure chemical weapons and radioactive sources.

From 2012 to 2014, Germany provided a total of approximately EUR 3.8 million to fund a variety of projects relating to capacity building, mines and ordnance disposal and measures to ensure the safe storage of weapons and ammunition.

The virtually uncontrolled proliferation of weapons and ammunition from the stockpiles of the Gaddafi regime is an urgent arms control problem in Libya in the conventional weapons sector that is permanently jeopardising the process of reconstruction. Germany is actively involved in international efforts in this area, which are being coordinated by UNSMIL, and until 2014 funded projects by the GIZ, the Mines Advisory Group and Handicap International. However, the current security situation in Libya is at present preventing the continuation of support for Libyan institutions and international efforts in this area.

Civil society

Germany is also helping the new Libya to build a civil society. Projects funded by the Federal Foreign Office include the organisation of a major women’s conference attended by participants from all parts of Libya to promote the need for women to play a stronger role in the future constitutional convention. In addition, the Federal Foreign Office is supporting Libya’s participation in various regional initiatives that are seeking to strengthen the political involvement of young people and marginalised groups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and to help establish the rule of law and ensure respect for human rights. For more information on the women’s conference, visit:

Women are helping to shape the new Libya


Culture and education

On account of their limited financial resources and their weak administrative structures, in the past 18 months the competing Libyan governments in Beida and Tripoli have not been in a position to carry out – or even provide funding for – cultural policy measures.

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