Federalism and Decentralization in Libya’s Constitutional Proposals

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Libya Business News.

Followers of Iraqi politics in the post-2003 period and the ongoing debate about federalism will likely see parallels to the way the concept of federalism has made its way into two other ongoing transitional processes in the Middle Eastern region: Those of Yemen and Libya.

Whereas the political complexities of those transitions are too immense to be discussed by someone who does not specialize in the politics of those two countries, constitutional drafts are emerging that make for some interesting surface comparison with the way federalism has been applied and continues to evolve in Iraq.

As far as Libya is concerned, a patchwork draft constitution was made available in late December 2014. Consisting of several sub-documents on matters like administrative division, organization of the judiciary, transitional justice, independent commissions, finance and natural resources, it can hardly be considered a complete constitutional draft.

Also, on some subjects there are two competing proposals, again stressing the incomplete nature of the emerging charter. But at least some hints about the prevailing trends inside the constitution-writing committee are provided by the publication of these documents.

On administrative structure, there are two papers. Reflecting the longstanding polarization in the Arab world between competing visions for state structure, there is one paper featuring decentralization and one paper using federalism as point of departure.

On closer inspection, beyond terminological issues (“regions” or aqalim versus “governorates” or muhafazat, literally the same as in the Iraqi constitution) the differences between the two papers on state structure are less than one would think.

2 Responses to Federalism and Decentralization in Libya’s Constitutional Proposals

  1. Dr Satya P.Bindra 13th January 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    Iraqi model is not to be replicated in Libya. Libya is unique. The way the concept of federalism is making its way needs stakeholders involvement during the ongoing transitional processes.

  2. Phil Hodkinson 14th January 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    The continuing armed skirmishing is hampering any means of gaining grass roots feeling on the subject. Unless this can be achieved, any subsequent solutions in terms of charter or constitutional pathway will be done in isolation and end up pleasing no one.
    Serious effort needs to be made in this direction, in conjunction with the UN, to bring about a speedier return to prosperity and safety, which all the people on the ground that I speak to want.
    It would appear that all the disruption is being caused by a quite small minority of the populace,therefore arguments about Federalism or any other form of constitution remain secondary.

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