The United States supports the aspirations of the Libyan people for a new inclusive and responsive government after 42 years of authoritarian misrule. Since February 2011, the United States has provided more than $240 million in assistance to Libya, a large portion of which was in response to urgent humanitarian and security challenges associated with Libya’s revolution.
Subsequently, the United States has focused on supporting the Libyan government as it begins to build basic democratic government institutions and on supporting the development of a robust civil society. The United States also provides security assistance to the Libyan government, including clearing unexploded ordnance and securing conventional weapons. Working with the Libyan government and private sector, we are supporting targeted economic engagements that expand links with the United States and the global economy. To help Libyan young people prepare for careers in the global economy and broaden our people-to-people relationships, the United States is funding scholarships, professional exchanges and English-language learning programs.
The United States and our international partners pursue a broad agenda with the Libyan government. General National Congress President Nuri Abu Sahmain and former-Prime Minister Ali Zeidan most recently met with Secretary of State Kerry at the Ministerial Conference on International Support to Libya in Rome on March 6, 2014. In this and other meetings, U.S. leaders assured their Libyan counterparts of continued U.S. support for Libya’s democratic transition and our shared goal of addressing regional security challenges. In these efforts, the United States works closely with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to coordinate international support for Libya’s transition.
The Transition to Democracy
In coordination with the international community, the United States provided technical assistance and support for Libya’s July 2012 elections, including management and administration, developing legal electoral frameworks, creating a voter registry, and strengthening the election management body. The United States also supported both domestic and international elections observers to help ensure transparency and credibility during Libya’s first national elections. We have continued our support for fair and effective electoral processes in subsequent elections, including the Constitutional Drafting Assembly election in February, 2014.
The United States provides technical assistance to the General National Congress and municipal councils to help develop democratic systems and processes at both the national and local level. We are also assisting the Ministries of Health, Social Affairs, and War Wounded and Missing in improving the management and technical capacity of the Libyan health care system to care for war wounded.
The United States continues to work with civil society, government, and the media to ensure the constitution drafting process reflects the needs of all Libyan citizens through processes that will ensure broad public support. A particular focus has been ensuring that a broad cross-section of Libyans, including women, youth, and minority groups are able to participate fully in the constitution drafting process.
Work is continuing to provide support for political party development and strengthened local and national representative bodies. The United States also supports civil society efforts to launch country-wide civic and voter education initiatives and to build the capacity of new media outlets to inform and engage Libyan citizens.
The United States works with Libya’s government and civil society to build impartial and transparent systems for the administration of justice. The United States also supports political reconciliation in the wake of the revolution, including work with the U.N. Commission of Inquiry to document human rights abuses during the revolution, and programs to support transitional justice.
Because Libyans continue to face security challenges as they begin to rebuild the nation, the United States is providing targeted assistance to the Libya government to strengthen Libya’s security and stability. In the aftermath of the revolution, immediate U.S. efforts included the provision of non-lethal equipment, including personnel protective gear, uniforms, and halal food rations to government security forces. The United States continues to support international mine action NGOs to clear unexploded ordinance and help secure the large supply of loose conventional weapons in Libya. In addition, the United States provided security upgrades to Libya’s chemical weapons storage site to enable the return of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors – and has provided support to the complete destruction of Libya’s chemical weapons, announced on February 4, 2014.
The United States has supported assessments of Libyan prisons, as well as illicit trafficking and organized crime. Following the prison assessment, the Ministry of Justice closed several sub-standard prison facilities and established a new prison facility. The United States also provided technical support to the Ministry of Interior (MOI), through a two-week workshop on police leadership and strategic planning and supported 11 rule of law workshops which brought together government, civil society, and legal actors.
Currently, the United States has committed to train 5,000-8,000 Libyan general purpose forces (GPF) recruits over 5-7 years to provide security for the Libyan people. The general purpose forces will fill the security vacuum that currently threatens Libya’s democratic transition. The United States will work with the Libyan government and international partners on training, structuring, and sustaining the GPF.
The United States will provide training for Libya’s border security forces to plan, coordinate and execute security activities along Libya’s land borders. The program will complement the activities of the EU Border Assistance Mission’s ongoing work to develop border management and security at Libya’s sea and air borders.
Finally, the United States is addressing emergent justice and security sector issues at the local level. The Supporting Justice and Civilian Security Locally project promotes active engagement with stakeholders in civilian security and justice to facilitate structured dialogues to identify challenges, opportunities and solutions. The project then helps communities and security and justice actors implement the practical or policy actions agreed upon in dialogue sessions.
The Libyan government and the United States are working together on initiatives to revitalize the Libyan economy by helping Libya unlock its own resources and pay for its own economic and governance development.
In partnership with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the United States is providing technical advisors to build the capacity of the Libyan Government in public financial management to help the government address obstacles to spending that prevent it from providing services to the public. The United States facilitates the work of American businesses interested in partnering with the Libyan government to rebuild the country and revitalize its private sector. The United States has also worked to boost economic opportunity in Libya by providing grants and technical assistance to U.S.-based Libyan entrepreneurs to begin expansion or business development in Libya through the African Diaspora Marketplace initiative. The United States is contributing to women’s economic empowerment by providing business skills training to women micro-entrepreneurs and women-owned small and medium enterprises.
To help Libyan young people prepare for careers in the global economy and broaden U.S. – Libyan people-to-people relationships U.S. and Libyan leaders have launched a Higher Education Task Force. The first session of the Task Force was held in Washington, D.C. on March 13, 2014, focused on increasing the number of Libyan government-funded students attending institutions of higher education in the United States and to expand bilateral educational exchanges and cooperation. The United States has re-launched its Fulbright scholarship exchanges for Libyan students, educational advising for Libyan students interested in U.S. study and is promoting English language study in Libya.
The United States provides support for archaeological site preservation and heritage management in Libya through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. This program also includes restoration projects in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in collaboration with the Libyan Department of Antiquities.