Constitution Making for State Building? Insights from Libya’s Failed Transition

This paper looks at Libya’s constitution-making process (2013 – 2017) and explains its role in the country’s failed post-revolutionary state-building efforts. In the aftermath of Libya’s revolution, political leaders and policy makers saw an opportunity to ‘rebuild’ the Libyan state from scratch via constitution making. However, rather than starting with a ‘clean slate’, the Libyan constitution-making process was deeply entrenched in the country’s complex political and social structures, both past and present. This empirical study describes the actors who were engaged in the constitution-making process and the ways in which the law, including constitutional law-making, was actually used and put to work in a post-conflict scenario. It underlines that when societal conflict is high and the political landscape deeply divided, a constitution-making process is unlikely to solve conflicts through a redistribution of power or resources or the elaboration of a unitary vision for a state.