Qadhafi's Son Speaks @ LSE; Brawl Erupts

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 5/27/2010 12:34:00 AM
Once more during this very eventful week, it's interesting times on the LSE lecture circuit. It may not be known to many outside of (or even in) the UK, but the favoured son of Moammar Qadhafi by his second wife, Saif al-Islam Alqadhafi, completed his PhD in global governance here at the LSE. His thesis concerned The Role of Civil Society in the Democratization of Global Governance Institutions: From ‘Soft Power’ to Collective Decision-Making? Many believe that Alqadhafi is the likely successor to Moammar Qadhafi. Given the emphasis of his research, you will not be surprised to find out that he is broadly reformist in outlook. The London Times even combed through his thesis in search of clues about the future of Libya (assuming he takes the mantle of leadership). Let's just say his doctoral studies were more eventful than mine:
While other doctoral students struggled to survive with occasional lecturing, the multimillionaire Libyan was also negotiating the release of the Lockerbie bomber and $1.5 billion compensation for his victims, opening up his country’s oil and gas fields to international businesses and restoring diplomatic links with the US.

Dr Gaddafi, 37, introduces his work by writing: “I shall be primarily concerned with what I argue is the central failing of the current system of global governance in the new global environment: that it is highly undemocratic.” The comments will be read with interest in Libya, where his father has ruled since a military coup in 1969 and where opponents are still ruthlessly suppressed. Dr Gaddafi says that his dissertation “analyses the problem of how to create more just and democratic global governing institutions”, focusing on the importance of the role of “civil society”.

“Citizens in undemocratic states emphasise that they are not represented in the decision-making process of the IGO [intergovernmental organisation],” he writes. “Even if their governments are represented in some capacity, because their governments are authoritarian, abusive and unrepresentative of their people’s real interests. Others emphasise that even democratic states fail to consult adequately with their own citizens regarding their positions in international negotiations.”
In light of his favourable impression of the LSE, he also made a gift of £1.5 million to our sister Global Governance programme. From our school paper, The Beaver (our mascot):
The LSE has accepted a donation from a Libyan non-governmental organisation headed by Saif Al Islam Al Gaddafi, LSE alumnus and son of the Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. The donation from Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) amounted to £1.5 million and was intended to support LSE Global Governance.

In a press release from the School, it was stated that LSE Global Governance “has produced pioneering work on global governance, shifting debate away from the role of individual governments in global affairs to far-reaching analysis of the framework of principles, rules and laws necessary to tackle global problems”.

“This donation will support us as we work to increase understanding of global problems and to encourage interaction between academics and policy makers,” said Professor David Held, a co-director of the centre along with Professors Mary Kaldor and Danny Quah in the press release. “It is a generous donation from an NGO committed to the promotion of civil society and the development of democracy.”

The GICDF “carries out developmental and humanitarian activities in the social, economic, cultural and human rights fields”, as described on their website. It has been praised in particular for its work in supporting human rights for Libyan citizens.

In 2004 Amnesty wrote that the “organisation has made strong calls for long-term human rights violations, including deaths in custody, to be addressed.” This appears to tally with arguments made by Professor David Held in the Council meeting on the Foundation’s donation where he argued that the Foundation’s stance on both democracy and human rights had sometimes led to disagreement with the Libyan state but nonetheless had enjoyed success in areas such as penal reform.
Despite his reformist orientation (and the foundation being independent of the government), Saif al-Islam Alqadhafi perhaps cannot just yet escape the shadow of his father. Indeed, he has not distanced himself fully despite his doctoral work, especially by helping secure the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber al-Megrahi. Indeed, things came to a head just this Tuesday as scuffles broke out prior to the talk between pro- and anti-Qadhafi forces. Like in many other places, Libya has a fairly sizeable diaspora community here in the UK:
One man was injured during scuffles between pro- and anti-Libyan government groups last night outside a London School of Economics building during a speech by the son of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi. Police were called to the incident, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, after angry exchanges between the placecard waving demonstrators and a pro-Libyan government group. No arrests were made. The injured man was treated by ambulance officials, but was not taken to hospital.
The Washington Post has a profile of its own of Saif al-Islam Alqadhafi. Take your pick: you can listen to Alqadhafi speak via podcast or video. I myself haven't had the opportunity to do so as I went to another event but will do so shortly. As I said before, there is just so much happening that you cannot attend them all.