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Protecting Human Rights in North Africa

In September 2011, the Siracusa Institute started the “Protecting Human Rights in North Africa” project. The project contained two main objectives. First, the project established a database of government, media and NGO reports and other public sources regarding events related to the conflict in Libya that began in March 2011. Second, the project conducted a study compiling the history and context of the conflict, as well as providing a chronology and assessment of events which occurred, with a particular focus on allegations of human rights abuses by all involved parties.

The purpose of the project was to supplement the work of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (UN CoI) on Libya and to provide a resource for the post-commission United Nations and ICC work. A preliminary 300-page report was completed in March 2012 and submitted to the UN CoI on Libya. The report focused on locations in Libya which saw the heaviest fighting during the conflict. These were often areas where allegations of human rights abuses involving both opposition and government forces were highest.

In 2013, the report was converted into a book titled Libya: From Repression to Revolution. In fact, subsequent to the completion of the CoI’s mandate in March 2012, it became desirable to integrate some of the material contained in the reports produced by the CoI into the text of the book in order to make this work more comprehensive. In fact, the project continued to document and produce analysis on ongoing country developments, and make assessments on internal challenges in the post-conflict period, even after the end of the CoI’s mandate. This additional work provides a more extensive examination of the conflict and its consequences than what the CoI reports contain.

The project undertook factual research concerning the conflict and its aftermath in order to address as many issues as possible. The project’s salient contributions are its detailed description of: various theaters of operations; the strategy (or more aptly the absence of a strategy, save for NATO’s) by both sides of the conflict, the tactics employed by the two opposing sides; the identification of the different groups of combatants on each side; what occurred in different theaters of operations; the chronology of events; the manner in which combat evolved in each territory; accountability for international humanitarian law and international criminal law violations; the outcomes in the year following the end of combat operations; and last but not least an examination of NATO’s role and its legality. It is noteworthy that the post-conflict justice description and analysis of contextual events is not contained in any other work presently available on Libya.