On 20 September 2017 the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Libya, Dr. Ghassan Salamé, announced an Action Plan for Libya at a High-Level Event on Libya on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
2.3 Principles and conditions for building security and police institutions:
The participants agreed that security services should play a key role in guaranteeing the right to security and ensuring law enforcement. This role should be conducted on the basis of the fundamental rights and freedoms that Libyans hope the next constitution will confirm, clarify and detail. In terms of the participants’ personal experience of security services in Libya, two starkly contrasting models have been witnessed in the country’s recent history. The first of these was a repressive security model under the central political system. The second was a total absence of the central security decisions and reliance instead on armed formations that lack an official professional character. To help build or rebuild a national security apparatus, the participants agreed to the following set of principles and conditions for forming the foundations of the security and police institution:
General principles for rebuilding the security and police institution
a. The security apparatus shall work under the protection of the constitution and law. The primary objectives of the security and police institutions shall be to maintain the security of the citizens, uphold public order and fight all forms of crime. The security apparatus shall work to ensure the law is applied and upheld without prejudice or favouritism.
b. The security apparatus shall contribute to the fight against terrorism and smuggling, including illegal immigration, in cooperation with the military institution.
c. The loyalty of the police, other security institutions and military shall be to the nation and people. As such, all security personnel shall be removed from political and partisan conflicts.
d. The security and police apparatuses shall be professional institutions. They will be equipped with all necessary training and certification programmes, as well as with adequate financial and technical means to perform their duties effectively.
e. A change in culture is needed to ensure the security apparatus views itself and is perceived by others as an entity removed from all political, personal, or partisan agendas. This change is necessary so that the security apparatus dedicates itself fully to protecting the nation’s citizens with respect for their freedoms, rights and property.
f. The participants all agreed on the importance of cooperation between the security institution and social forces at local level. This agreement is based on the role that local leaderships have played in maintaining public safety and order in recent years. The participants called for the media and community leaders to raise awareness of the importance of being aware of security risks and respecting human rights as well as cultural, religious, and linguistic norms.
Practical conditions for rebuilding security and police institutions
a. The police shall work under the leadership of the Ministry of Interior’s local security directorates.
b. Members of the security and police apparatus may work in their regions of origin. This would ease cooperation with local groups and improve understanding of local cultural norms.
c. The Ministry of Interior shall be in charge of security in each of the three historical regions.
d. Limits should be set to reduce the dependence of the Ministry of Interior and some security apparatuses on parallel structures. This is crucial to ensure such structures do not work on the ground outside the scope of the state’s control.
e. In order to limit the influence of parallel structures it is vital to end any financial support from the state for these structures.
f. The judicial apparatus and the prison system need to be reformed in accordance with the constitution and law. This includes reforming the powers of the judicial police officers and limiting judicial powers of detention in formal agencies.
g. Security tasks currently being performed by armed groups must be transferred to the official security apparatus. This is a necessary condition for rebuilding the security and police institution.
h. Effective legal protection must be provided for police officers to prevent any attacks or threats against them. This is essential to allow the state to recover its authority.
i. In exceptional circumstances, the state may appoint competent and experienced experts to help rebuild the security institutions. Any such experts must comply with all relevant moral and professional standards.
j. In extreme cases, the security apparatus may call on the military institution to control security and maintain public order.
k. Securing the borders is a key condition for restoring security and preventing terrorism and smuggling. Activating the Border Guard Corps would require financial incentives sufficient to prevent corruption. Border guards would need to be provided with suitable modern equipment.
l. In order to achieve a lasting political solution in Libya it is essential to improve the security situation in Tripoli and Benghazi. All efforts must be made and all means explored to reach a formula that preserves the security of sovereign institutions and vital infrastructure in Tripoli. This formula must safeguard against all forms of tampering with the security of the capital and vital institutions.
Given the importance of securing borders in order to restore national security, some participants called for Libya’s southern borders to be closed.
2.4 Dealing with armed groups
Establishing a unified security institution that takes local specificities into account will clearly require the development of practical and feasible mechanisms for dealing with armed formations, including members of such formations and their equipment. The participants of the consultative process focussed on two key issues related to the problem of armed formations. The first of these issues is the integration of the members of armed formations in official security forces. The second is how to prevent the proliferation of weapons. The participants agreed on the importance of learning from international experience in tackling these sensitive issues. They further agreed that this delicate process would require a high level of confidence and trust among all Libyan citizens to achieve its aims.
Integrating members of armed formations
The issue of how to tackle the problem of armed groups was discussed extensively in the consultation process. These discussions covered aspects such as how to develop mechanisms for the integration of individuals currently involved in armed formations. A vital concern in this regard is how to maintain national security without risking a repeat of the armed crises experienced in Libya’s recent history.
The participants reached agreement on a number of key points, including the following recommendations:
a. A crucial distinction must be made in approaching the problem of armed formations. On the one hand, there are irregular armed groups that have emerged in exceptional circumstances and with whom dialogue must be initiated. On the other hand, there are criminal gangs and ideological groups using weapons to impose their interests and agendas on Libyans. Dialogue must not be entered into with such gangs and groups; nor should any of their members be considered for integration within state institutions.
b. Possibly integrating members of armed groups into the two military institutions must, in all cases, focus on the conditions of commitment to these institutions’ laws in place.
c. The military Supreme Leadership of the military should prepare a training programme for integrating the members of irregular armed groups. This programme should include a plan aimed at integrating the leaders of these groups in state institutions within a period of 18 months. Before committing efforts to the integration of armed groups, the Supreme Leadership must ensure that precise stock is taken of their weapons, equipment and bases.
d. Specific measures should be adopted in efforts to integrate younger members of armed groups. Special committees will need to be established to assess their mental health and capacity to reintegrate in the socio-economic fabric. All young members of armed groups wishing to join security and military institutions must undergo psychological, professional, and social assessment.
e. Members of armed groups, and youth in particular, will need guidance and opportunities in order to achieve integration. Those applying to join military and security institutions must be assessed and appointed on the basis of their capabilities and past record in accordance with strict standards. Opportunities must also be made available for integrating members of armed groups in the civil service, according to their specializations. An additional proposal for the integration of young members of armed groups is to offer scholarships. These could be to fund students undertaking courses in Libya or abroad.
f. Incentives are needed to deter young people from becoming engaged in armed actions. Loans could be made available, for example, to youth who want to engage in private initiatives. Another proposal is to establish a development fund to provide home loans to people who desire to get married or start a family.
g. It is essential to cut off all sources of funding for those armed groups that participate in economic plunder. A number of contentious issues emerged in discussions about the integration of members of armed groups. The following contrasting views and proposals were highlighted for further deliberation:
a. One proposal is to dissolve all irregular armed groups and to assess the integration of the members of these groups in military institutions on an individual basis. This assessment must be conducted without favouritism or discrimination, in according with the law. Any individuals with a criminal record or who advocate an extremist political or religious ideology must be excluded and completely removed from consideration.
b. Some participants proposed that irregular armed groups (revolutionary brigades) could be integrated as reserve units of the military institution, subject to the military institution’s Supreme Leadership. Participants also stressed the importance of effective socialization in integrating members of irregular armed groups. This is crucial in order to achieve mutual understanding on the ground.
c. Some suggested that the weapons of armed groups should be confiscated with the support and supervision of the UN, especially in the case of medium and heavy arms. Others participants, however, claimed that the UN might become subject to bias towards some groups at the expense of others.
d. Some suggested that a specialized structure should be established within the military institution, dedicated to integrating members of irregular armed groups.
e. Another contentious proposal is that members of irregular armed groups be tasked with preserving security at local level by joining military and security institutions. Their engagement would be on condition that they obtained assurances from their families and tribes, while also taking their security expertise into consideration. Some participants supported this, noting the important role played by these units in maintaining security and the sacrifices made by their members in during the war against terrorism. On this basis, it was argued, members of these groups should be welcomed as partner in rebuilding the military and security institutions.
Dealing with the prevalence of weapons:
The participants agreed on the following points regarding the bearing of arms outside the scope of irregular armed groups and state institutions:
a. Dealing with small arms: The right to bear arms for personal protection must be guaranteed in the law. This right must be exercised pursuant to a law or decree defining the procedures and conditions according to the type of personal weapon (personal protection, hunting, etc.).
– Licenses must be granted for owning pre-defined types of small arms. The rules and conditions for using these weapons must be regulated.
– The police must destroy small arms that exceed the limits of personal use. This includes undeclared small arms in order to ensure they do not end up again on the black market.
b. Dealing with medium and heavy arms:
– Laws and decrees should define the types of medium and heavy arms that should be owned exclusively by state institutions.
– Financial incentives should be offered to groups that surrender their weapons according to legal conditions. This should be combined with a fixed period of grace in order to prevent a cycle of illegal arms sales. Following this fixed period, preventative measures must be taken to confiscate all weapons that have not been surrendered. The handlers of such weapons must be held accountable.
– All members of armed groups who violate these procedures must be excluded from ‘social cover’ and submitted to the formal justice system.
– In view of Libya’s peculiar situation, the confiscation and storage of medium and heavy arms must be conducted in cooperation and coordination with local bodies. This cooperation must be based on guaranteed assurances that these weapons are under the supervision of an authority collectively agreed upon by Libyans.
Among the proposals that gained consensus in the wide-ranging discussions on the proliferation of weapons, the following remain subject to further consultation:
a. Some suggested that it is necessary to place medium and heavy arms in warehouses within municipal geographic borders, and then hand them over to the military institution when the Libyan people have arrived at a stable and permanent political situation.
b. Some suggested that all armed groups be removed from the cities and enter into the military institution’s barracks outside the cities.
c. Some suggested that military formations be integrated and disarmament be carried out under UN supervision and support, especially with regards to heavy and medium weapons and integrating personnel. On the other hand, others believe that the UN is not objective and may incline toward certain actors at the expense of others.
to be continued