By John Lee.
The Institute for Economics and Peace has ranked Libya 149th out of 162 countries in its 2015 Global Peace Index.
The Global Peace Index measures the state of peace in 162 countries according to 23 indicators that gauge the absence of violence or the fear of violence.
The 2015 report made the following commentary on Libya:
After the ousting of former-Prime Minister Muammar Qaddafi there were high hopes that Libya would transition into a peaceful society. However, tribal and clan clashes resulted in a power vacuum which has now created an environment where other Islamist groups have formed and ISIL has gained a foothold. The Libyan conflict is currently escalating, with IISS recording 3,060 conflict-related fatalities in 2014. This is a 12-fold increase from 2013.
Libya’s GPI score had improved after 2012, reflecting some progress since the 2011 Revolution. However the peace did not last long, with the ensuing civil war resulting in the sharpest deterioration in any country’s score in the 2015 GPI. Libya is now ranked 149th.
The score was affected by deteriorations in political instability and the likelihood of violent demonstrations and a resulting rise in refugees and IDPs, now numbering up to 7.3 per cent of the population. Moreover, the involvement of Islamist groups in the strife has driven a deterioration in Libya’s relations with neighbouring countries, particularly Egypt.
Libya faces a different crisis of legitimacy than its neighbours. Rather than one weak government challenged by non-state groups, Libya entered 2015 with two parliaments, two prime ministers, and militias defending two capital cities.
The General National Congress (GNC), elected in 2012 and
currently based in Tripoli, includes Islamist groups alongside secular constituencies. The Council of Deputies based in Tobruk and elected in 2014, includes defectors from the Qaddafi regime as well as loyalists and anti-Islamist groups.
Each of these two governments represents a diverse set of stakeholders in Libyan society, making the diplomatic process both more complex but likely more viable. Adding to the complications, tribal militias and jihadist groups have taken advantage of the power vacuum. Most notably, radical Islamist fighters seized Derna in 2014 and Sirte in 2015 in the name of ISIL, where the group beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Egypt has retaliated with airstrikes.
There are two diplomatic opportunities to curtail violence. Firstly, the UN process can encourage participation in negotiations and observance of ceasefires and calls to de-escalate. Secondly, an agreement on a head of state could lay the groundwork for a disarmament process and pave the way
for integrated armed forces that would be representative of the various groups.
If either of these two outcomes can be brought about inclusively and with buy-in from multiple stakeholder groups, the stability needed for peacebuilding could be achieved.
A diplomatic solution in Libya holds promise for the region, as the spread of extremism relies on the absence of credible, peaceful alternatives. For any peace process to be successful, it will need to proceed on the basis that an agreement would involve power sharing arrangements and that groups would not face undue reprisals.