The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Libya to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Libya's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
To promote democratic principles and human rights, the United States focuses on fostering a multifaceted relationship with the government. The U.S. Government aims to empower citizens to play a more active role in governance and to secure basic civil liberties for all citizens, consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Top U.S. priorities include implementing an action-oriented, high-level human rights dialogue; strengthening working relationships with key government officials to address human rights and democracy concerns; and promoting greater public participation in political life through cultural and educational exchanges that provide exposure to alternative political models, ideas, and principles. The U.S. Government also believes that cooperating with the government for commercial law reform can help to promote respect for rule of law. While deep suspicions engendered by more than 30 years of estrangement and hostility, restrictive laws, and an absence of independent NGOs impede the U.S. Government's efforts to coordinate its democracy promotion strategy with independent organizations, U.S. officials work to identify, build, and support nascent civil society organizations and individuals and to facilitate interactions between local groups and international NGOs.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance
The U.S. Government engages in regular diplomatic outreach aimed at promoting greater understanding of political processes, judicial independence, rule of law, and independent media in the country. In 2009 high-level U.S. officials met with Libyan counterparts to discuss human rights principles and practices, and the ambassador and other U.S. officials regularly raise human rights concerns bilaterally with officials, as well as in public and press statements. Consistent U.S. outreach to the government and to semiofficial civil society groups has slowly expanded the bilateral relationship to include a political component. U.S. officials, including the ambassador, also meet regularly with representatives of local semiofficial organizations, including nongovernmental human rights organizations, to discuss political processes and press freedom. In addition, U.S. officials meet with representatives of minority religions, including the Anglican, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant communities operating in the country, to monitor the country's adherence to the principle of religious freedom.
The U.S. Government directs several public diplomacy projects to promote democracy and human rights in the country. It sponsors participants to travel to the United States as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to explore issues such as student leadership and civic responsibility, judicial independence and reform, women's rights, and investigative journalism. In 2009 the embassy facilitated 14 IVLP participants, as well as nine Fulbright students and more than two dozen participants in other U.S.-sponsored exchange programs. The embassy runs a monthly "Conversation with America" series, open to the public, in which Libyan citizens explore topics such as civil rights and gender equality with embassy officers. The embassy also sponsored 26 youth to participate in NASA Space Camp. Their trip led to a documentary that aired on Libyan television emphasizing values such as gender equality and ethics in scientific fields. In 2010 the embassy will sponsor an equally large group of students to participate in the Space Camp program.
The U.S. Government's foreign assistance plan for the country focuses on training judges in international arbitration and legal norms to foster a rule-of-law society, promoting human rights principles and combating human trafficking through workshops with migration officials, empowering female entrepreneurs to compete in the emerging domestic marketplace, and supporting fair and transparent privatization efforts underway in the country. Additional funding is directed to prepare university-level students for leadership roles in the country. U.S. officials regularly exchange "best practices" with counterparts in reforming the country's commercial law, migration management, and antitrafficking legislation. U.S. assistance also has supported training and professional exchange opportunities for judges specializing in commercial law. As a result of the cooperation, the Libyan Ministry of Justice has advanced commercial law reforms that promote a more transparent economic environment, based on free market principles.