Even though the rebels, later turned ‘revolutionaries’, actually had an insignificant role as combatants in the violent downfall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011, they became involved in acts of war in many parts of the country in what came to resemble a civil war. Their militias flourished thanks to the lucrative financial handouts that governments paid to them. To complicate matters, additional militias sprang up in the absence of any sort of viable state/institutional control on the part of the nascent ‘state’ or an inability to restrict and monopolize the use of force. Therefore, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and security sector reform have not been possible, and the Libyan case demonstrates the failure to emulate international best practices, thus hindering any state-building. This paper seeks to analyse the Libyan case and provide an approach and framework for dealing with the genuine causes of the current situation in order help put the appropriate disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) policy in place, while simultaneously not ignoring other major, contributing factors. This study suggests that the case of Libya is unique and likely to prove challenging to both established and evolving theoretical approaches to both DDR and SSR. Experiments in the country that have ignored the holistic security sector reform will be examined and its programmes analysed to ascertain whether these have produced any effective state-run structures and mechanisms, norms and procedures, or whether they have only served to reinforce the de facto roles of militias. The article argues that unless the state-building approach is revitalized and national reconciliation made a top priority, Libya’s current debacle and instability is most likely to continue.

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