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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Libya

The Libyan Interim Constitutional Declaration (2011) does not mention environmental protection or natural resources. However, the country adopted the Law on the protection of the environment in 1982. This legislation serves as a framework for environmental protection. Furthermore, The Law on the protection and improvement of the environment was promulgated in 2003, containing general provisions on environmental protection and provides for the air, seas and marine resources, water resources, food and foodstuffs, diseases, soil, plants, wildlife, biodiversity.

There are various governmental Institutions such as the Environment General Authority (EGA), Ministry of Health (MoH), and General Water Authority (GWA). The Environment General Authority (EGA) is the major environmental authority in Libya which was first established in 1982 as the Technical Centre for Environmental Protection and then upgraded to become the environment General authority (EGA).

Featured Legislation

1971: Law No. 81 was issued, covering rules concerning the loading and unloading of dangerous materials which can negatively impact the environment. The law contains 155 articles outlining penalties applicable on the violations of these provisions.

1973: The Health Law No. 106 was passed, elaborating all aspects of the environment and environmental protection. The preamble deals with the problems associated with water and its protection from pollution. It also lists the types of water sources and how to treat them and take samples, addressing controls for the circulation of foods and the necessary health provisions for locally manufactured or imported foodstuff.

1975: Law No (38/39) was created to address municipalities organizing actions concerned with environmental protection.

1976: The Decision of the Minister of Municipalities (No 24) was presented, highlighting the Model Public Cleansing Regulation and law n° 13 of 1984 for public cleansing and the collection of waste and issues related to solid waste management in Libya. The law deals with the responsibility of the authorities for waste collection.

1982: Law No. 7 (on the protection of the environment) was adopted. This Law consists of many Chapters divided into 75 articles. Chapter I contains general provisions, while protection of the air is dealt in Chapter II. Protection of seas and marine resources is given in Chapter III and the protection of water resources is provided for in Chapter IV. Lastly, the protection of food and foodstuffs is referred to in Chapter V and Chapter VI deals with environment saving.

1989: Law No.15 of 1989 on Animals and Trees Protection was tabled. This Law consists of 13 articles aimed at protecting and maintaining animals and trees of Libya, being one of the main wealth of the country, improving their conditions, working to develop by any means and taking care of the pastures. It establishes: that female camels can only be killed with a permit; rules to kill the females of other animals; measures to be taken by breeders and veterinary doctors in case of suspicion of cases of disease among animals. Article 5 deals with cases in which the trees can be cut down. Articles 6 – 9 regard penalties for any violation of the provisions of the Law. Everyone who sees committing any of the offenses specified in this law must immediately report it to the nearest local Security Center.

1989: Law No. (14) was created to govern marine wealth. The legislation serves as a legal instrument used to prevent pollution of the sea (dumping of waste). According to the law, a permit for the dumping of waste to the sea has to be obtained from EGA. Libya is also an active member of the Barcelona Convention.

1998: The Environment General Authority (EGA) was established, serving as the main authority responsible for the environment. This legislation replaced the “Technical Centre for Protection of the Environment” that was established in 1984, making Libya among the first Arab countries to establish environmental institutions and frame legislative and related measures for environmental protection.

2003:  Law No. 15 of 2003 (on the protection and improvement of the environment) was signed. This Law consists of 79 articles divided in Chapters aiming to (i) achieve control over the environment with the aim of protecting and improving it (including water, soil and food) from pollution; (ii) find appropriate methods to measure pollution and work to maintain the environmental balance; (iii) improve the framework and conditions of life through fighting the pollution; (iv) develop practical plans and programs in the sector; and (v) achieve sustainable development, and make use of natural resources and work to make the best use of them.

2012: Cabinet Decision No.98 was unveiled. This Resolution consists of 12 articles aimed at establishing the National Center for Prevention and Quarantine, subordinated to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Marine Resources and managed by a Management Committee. The Center mainly undertakes the following (i) follow up on the implementation of the legislation in force in the matter of plant protection and internal and external plant quarantine and the implementation of agricultural pest control programs; (ii) supervise plant quarantine offices; (iii) conduct periodic monitoring of private and public nurseries and ensure that they are free from agricultural diseases and pests and comply with special conditions and specifications; (iv) health monitoring of seedlings imported to Libya, ensuring that they are free from plant diseases and pests, and granting import and export licenses for plant products; (v) provide data and information on agricultural quarantine in coordination with the competent authorities; (vi) work on implementing studies and applied experiments in the field of agricultural pest control; (vii) prepare integrated biological control programs; (viii) collect information about various agricultural pests in all regions and supervise the disposal of trees and plants affected by agricultural pests by scientific methods; (ix) evaluate registered pesticides and their effectiveness in controlling agricultural pests; (x) control the regulation of the supply and circulation of pesticides inside Libya and the inspection of pesticides inside and outside Libya; (xi) review the shops and distribution centers of agricultural pesticides and ensure their compliance with the health conditions in force; (xii) conduct analyzes of the quality of the supplied pesticides and their conformity with the required specifications; and (xiii) carry out the registration of agricultural pesticides and approve them through the technical committees.

Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Libya is currently suffering from flooding and water scarcity, both of which are related to climate change, conflict  and natural disasters. Since rebels killed Muammar Gaddafi and dismantled his regime, regional powers have paid scant attention to pressing environmental issues. According to The World Resources Institute, Libya was ranked sixth in the world on its 2019 “National Water Stress Rankings” list. The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) also warned that four million Libyans could “face imminent water problems,” and a potential “humanitarian disaster,” if Libyan authorities failed to maintain desalination plants and repair wells. In fact, UNICEF’s 2021 advisory on water scarcity commented on “repeated attacks on” the Great Manmade River, a colloquial term for a series of pipelines constructed under Gaddafi’s reign that carry water to much of Libya’s population. After Gaddafi’s death in 2011: There were mounting concerns that this infrastructure would become a military target. Described as “the world’s largest irrigation project,” it moved 2.5 million cubic metres of water a day in 2017, comprising 70 percent of the freshwater used in Libya. The infrastructure is central to transporting water to Benghazi, Tripoli, and other cities, but has been neglected due to the protected war in the country. Of note, the Arab Reform Initiative has urged Libya to decrease its consumption of water and expand the use of desalination plants, to develop water policies that are participatory and allow for management at the local level. This, presumably, would reduce dependence on the Great Manmade River and mitigate water scarcity in Libya in order to avoid an environmental disaster.

References and Further Reading


Environment General Authority, Nature Conservation Department, Mr. Abdulmola Alarifi Beshyah: