Lost in Transition: Constitutional Legitimacy in Libya - December 2021

Lost in Transition: Constitutional Legitimacy in Libya

At present Libya faces a dual legitimacy vacuum with its constitutional framework defined by a myriad of legal instruments that lack legitimacy, which in turn serve as the governing basis for institutions that consequently lack constitutional legitimacy. Reconciling these legal instruments under a single, coherent constitutional framework that enjoys legitimacy in the eyes of the people has proven challenging due to the diverging aspirations of different segments of Libya’s society concerning the nature of the state. The roots of these divisions can be found in Libya’s constitutional history, defined by short democratic and undemocratic constitutional periods, and in the formation of the modern state through the unification of the three historic regions, namely Cyrenaica, Fezzan, and Tripolitania. Throughout its history, Libyans were denied the opportunity to engage in a process of consensus-building on a common vision of the state. The adoption of clear transitional arrangements may provide Libyans with the dual objective of providing a single, coherent constitutional framework, while also granting them more time to forge consensus on a vision of the state that can be reflected in a permanent constitution enjoying constitutional legitimacy.