Volume 7 Issue 1 (2018)

The Rise and Fall of Liberal Peace in Libya

pp. 14-25  |  Published Online: January 2018  |  DOI: 10.22521/unibulletin.2018.71.2

Siyum Adugna Mamo


In the wake of the 2011 “Arab Uprising”, liberal elements were haunting in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya – countries which experienced the uprising at its early stage. The liberal elements triggered the youth particularly in Libya to boldly oppose their long-serving Libyan president, Muammar Qaddafi. In what followed, the West not only interfered to help the rebels and become involved in a direct military intervention in the guise of humanitarian intervention, it also tried to install a liberal peace in the process of state reconstruction and peacebuilding in the aftermath of the revolution that ousted Qaddafi. The intervention had an implicit agenda of regime change and installing liberal peace in post-Qaddafi Libya. However, the intervention descended the country into a protracted civil war that the country has been suffering from for more than six years after the downfall of Qaddafi, instead of bringing peace and stability to the Libyans. The liberal peace that was rising during the revolution and immediately after the fall of Qaddafi through the liberal ideals that triggered the Libyan revolutionaries ruptured as the country descended into protracted civil war among different factions due to Western intervention. The aim of this desk research is therefore to unpack the rise and fall of liberal peace in Libya. Employing discussion of the debate over liberal peace in Libya as a core methodological analysis, this paper argues that the liberal peace that the West attempted to install in the country failed mainly because it was rooted in hegemonic liberal values, which are incompatible with Libyan tribal society, and disregarded the indigenous peacebuilding mechanisms. This paper concludes that liberal peace, which privileges the international over the local, is irreconcilable with post-conflict environments in the Global South and hence was unable to solve the Libyan crises. Therefore, emphasis should be given to indigenous peacebuilding mechanisms, which are less recognized and understudied compared to liberal peace which is over-studied and hegemonized, to bring a resonant and sustainable peace in post-conflict environments of the Global South.

Keywords: liberal peace, Libya, NATO’s intervention in Libya, 2011 Arab uprising


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