By Hafed Al-Ghwell and Daniel Heath.
Washington DC, 19 May 2013:
In Northern Ireland there is a city with two names. For nationalists, . . .[restrict]those who wish to leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland, the city is called Derry. For unionists, those wanting to remain in the UK, the city is Londonderry. The dual names suggest why city was the center of the country’s terrorism until recently. Now, many efforts to maintain peace try to bridge the cultural, religious and political differences by envisioning a new future for the city. Derry/Londonderry has been named the UK’s City of Culture for 2013, and a G8 summit meeting will be held nearby in June. One hopeful civic movement, with major events this week, describes it well: “Bright Brand New Day”! The vision of the future is important to activity today.
Libya has changed direction more dramatically than Northern Ireland since 2011, and now has a privileged and unique opportunity to determine a new and remarkable new future in all aspects of national life. Many Libyans and friends of Libya inside and outside the country are working for this bright new day.
Many think about the list of problems that need solution—–security, jobs, justice, living conditions, private enterprise, and many more. But how do they fit together, and how do powerful interests reconcile competing desires?
As evident so far, activities in these areas can create more disarray, fragmentation, and conflict when there is no national overall vision for the future Libya. Libyans individually and together must figure out ways to explore and determine a vision for Libya, one that should be inclusive of all Libyan citizens, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, and political, trial, regional, affiliations.
There is no shortage of popular visions for Libya’s national life and place in the community of nations.
- Rentier State, living on oil revenues.
- A Norway on the Mediterranean, with a diversified economy, boosted by oil.
- A Trade entrepôt for the Euro-Afro-Med region.
- A MENA Hong Kong or a North Africa Dubai.
- A Modern Islamic Society, prioritizing
knowledge and culture more than economics.
The list, of course, can easily lengthen to include all sorts of dreams and visions, and there are advantages and challenges with each, and for any combination. Ideally, new visions will emerge when Libyans especially are invited to explore and articulate their hopes andd fears for the future of Libya, and its place within the region, and the world.
The important decision, at this point, however, is to begin a process to deliberate a vision that can encompass all Libyans irrespective of background. A vision that will ensure that every Libyan feels that he/she has a stake in the future and success of the country
The process, therefore, must be national, inclusive, local, and informed of changing circumstances, lessons, and trends elsewhere in the world that will affect Libya. It must be productive, and produce a decision before long. It, then, would sequentially move from lofty and general to granular and specific. It must be rigorous and sensitive, and embody urgent improvements in the daily life of citizens. It has been undertaken elsewhere in the world and can be done in Libya as well.
We believe unequivocally, based on our experience around the world, that initiating the process of national dialogue to articulate a national economic vision for the future of Libya, will contribute immeasurably to political stability, national reconciliation, and focusing attention on the future, instead of the sins of the past and will serve as a call for all of Libya’s friends from around the world to contribute to its success.
It is important to everyone around the world, and for Libya’s leaders to initiate a purposeful process and for all Libyans to become engaged in articulating a vision of what Libya can, and indeed should, become; a new nation founded on laws, tolerance, and inclusion. A beacon for the Arab and Islamic world that can attract talent, encourage individual initiative, tolerate differences, and contribute to our world.
Hafed Al-Ghwell is an Advisor to the Dean of the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank Group in Washington DC. http://www.hafedalghwell.com
Daniel Heath, is the Former Executive Director of the USA at the IMF and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown University in Washington DC. http://law.georgetown.edu
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Libya Herald. [/restrict]