The EU & Italy in Libya

Résidences, Table ronde, Roma

Date to be determined




Résidences, Table ronde

Date to be determined

I venerdì pomeriggio
The Friday afternoons at Istituto Svizzero are dedicated to our residents. It is an opportunity for the public to learn more about the projects they are working on during this year’s residency.

The EU & Italy in Libya
Discussing the politics of complicity in a divided state

The UN security council sanctioned military intervention in Libya in 2011 led, along with the country’s popular uprisings, to the removal of the colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya’s supreme commander for 42 years. Since then, insecurity prevails in Libya and peaked again in Spring 2019, when general Haftar attempted to seize the capital. The ‘failed state’ – as some media commentators have labelled it – remains divided between the West with the internationally backed-government of national accord (GNA) and the East (General Haftar’s LNA). Amidst the war, most embassies and assistance missions have relocated their offices to neighbouring Tunis.

In this state of generalised turmoil, thousands of migrants remain trapped in detention centres across the country. The EU and Italy have invested large sums in containing migratory flows by training the Libyan coast guard whilst simultaneously devoting large amounts of funding for humanitarian and emergency services to those trapped in detention. Detention centres have become a profitable business model for those involved in their management. This, even though funding agencies rarely provide direct financial support to local authorities in charge of migration affairs. Yet, funding agencies have limited possibilities to avoid the aid they dispense from becoming instrumentalised by parallel state structures and militias who are active in the detention ‘economy’.

At the same time, international powers have become involved in the Libyan civil war to the extent that it has become a proxy-war, with lucrative oil and gas resources forming its backdrop. The flow of EU and Italian aid for the upkeeping of detention structure in such a context imposes the pressing need to discuss questions of international responsibility.

This round table bringing together academics, journalists and lawyers who will discuss some of the following questions in relation to the risks of continued (foreign) interventions in a divided state:

– What legal and political questions does the EU and Italian involvement in migration control in Libya raise?

– What profiles of responsibility can be traced in relation to activities and/or inhumane treatment of migrants in detention centres?

– What role do militias play in the (licit and illicit) economies of Libya’s fractured state?

– How do contemporary forms of violence operate along complex chains of relationships?

Diletta Agresta
Diletta Agresta is responsible for ASGI’s operational coordination in relation to the Sciabaca project, where she is in charge of curating the network with the African organisations involved in the introduction of joint strategic actions, the organisation of legal research inspections, and dissemination initiatives. Diletta Agresta has been involved for several years in the legal support and accompaniment of asylum seekers and refugees in Italy. Abroad she has collaborated in the promotion of minority rights, working in support of the gypsy minority in Southern Spain and the Q’eqchi Maya populations in Belize.

Emadeddin Badi
Emadeddin Badi is a researcher and political analyst who focuses on governance, conflict and the political economy of Libya and the Sahel. He has worked with multiple development organizations as a consultant. He is a frequent commentator on Libyan development and his articles and analysis have been published widely, notably on Chatham House’s The World Today, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s SADA Journal, the World Politics Review, War on the Rocks, and many others. Emad is a non-resident scholar at the Counterterrorism and Extremism Program of the Middle East Institute. He is also an incoming Policy Leader Fellow at the School of Transnational Governance of the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

Samuel Gratacap
As a photographer whose work belongs both in the field of visual arts and photojournalism, Samuel Gratacap is interested in the phenomena of migration and transit areas generated by contemporary conflicts. His projects are the result of long periods of immersion, the time needed to understand the complexity of situations and to restore what, beyond numbers, flows, maps, geopolitical data, and media news, constitutes the heart: trajectories and personal experiences.

Francesca Mannocchi
Francesca Mannocchi is a freelance journalist who covers migration and conflicts and contributes to numerous Italian and international newspapers (L’Espresso, Stern, Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, The Observer). She has produced reports in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Egypt and Turkey. She received the Premiolino award for journalism in 2016. She won the Giustolisi Prize with the Mission Impossible (LA7) investigation on migrant smuggling and Libyan prisons. In 2018 her documentary directed with the photographer Alessio Romenzi was presented at the 75th edition of the Venice International Film Festival. She is the author of Io Khaled vendo uomini e sono innocente (2019, Einaudi) Porti ciascuno la sua colpa (Laterza) and Libia (INK Mondadori).

Alberto Pasquero
For over ten years Alberto Pasquero has been involved in the fight against war crimes and organised crime in the Balkans. Among other things, he was a Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office’s official and an observer of the criminal trials in Serbia. In recent years, after working as a commissioner at the Territorial Commission for the recognition of international protection in Trapani, he worked in Turin as a lawyer in the field of refugee and immigration law.

Kiri Santer
Kiri Santer is currently carrying out doctoral research on the effects of the creation of a Libyan Search and Rescue Region for political and legal notions of responsibility for death at sea. She is the recipient of a Doc.CH grant from the Swiss Nation Science Foundation for her PhD in legal anthropology. She completed an MA in Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS, University of London in 2015 and is now a research fellow at Istituto Svizzero, Roma, for the residence program ‘Roma Calling 2019/2020’.


Kiri Santer (researcher University of Bern and fellow at Istituto Svizzero, Roma), Introduction

Francesca Mannocchi (journalist), (TBC) Covering Libya: the challenges of reporting in Libya before and after the 2017 Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding

Diletta Agresta (ASGI – Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione), Introducing project Sciabaca: strategic litigation at the external borders of the EU

Alberto Pasquero (lawyer, ASGI), Criminally responsible? NGOs and EU Member States’ contribution to the Libyan detention system

Emad Badi (researcher, EUI Florence), (TBC) International foreign policy’s contribution to militia activity in Libya

Samuel Gratacap (photographer and fellow at the Villa Medici, Rome), Presentation of the photographic series “Les Naufragés” (The Shipwrecked), Zaouia detention centre, Libya 2014

Discussion and Q&A with the public

The programme will be concluded by a convivial moment that invites for further discussion.

NB: This event will be held in Italian and English.