Trading Freedoms for Protection: Gender and Localised Protection in Libya

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
Author: Outi Donovan1
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  • 1 Lecturer, School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia,
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Much has been written on the 2011 intervention in Libya and its implications to the R2P principle, but we know less about the lived experience of protection in a context where the post-intervention responsibility for protecting civilians was quickly transferred to the interim authorities who had limited governance capacity. This has resulted in ‘localised protection’ where militias, tribal elders, and family members constitute the main actors providing protection to their respective communities. Although this is in line with the growing emphasis on local ownership underwriting UN and donor discourse, a troubling upshot of the localised protection is that it often disempowers, and at times subjects the protected to further insecurity and violence. The aim of this analysis is to explore this dynamic of protection and insecurity. I draw on feminist theorising of the masculine protection logic and argue that civilians in Libya negotiate multiple, gendered protection bargains that often produce perverse outcomes, by subjecting the ‘protected’ to renewed or increased insecurities, rather than reducing them.

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