martyrs squareMartyrs Square, Tripoli (Credit: UNDP)

In 2010, Libya ranked 53rd in the UN’s Human Development Index among 163 countries. With life expectancy at birth at 74.5 years, an 88.4% adult literacy rate and a gross enrolment ratio of 94.1%, Libya was classified as a high human development country among the Middle East and North Africa region.

Libya’s population has been estimated around 5.6 million. The last three decades witnessed a change in the age structure, with a decline in the proportion of children under age 15. Another feature of Libya’s population pyramid is the bulge in the 25-29 age group, which presents its own set of challenges and opportunities. These include the large number of young men out of and unprepared for work.

Libya, a net contributor country, had an gross domestic product annual growth rates of 4.2% during 2010. It ranked 64th of 187 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index. Libya’s current frozen foreign assets exceeded US$ 150 billion. Oil represents 90% of the economy and most goods are imported from abroad. Prior to the conflict, Libya relied on 1 million immigrant workers. However, despite Libya’s wealth and favourable macro-economic figures, the country has suffered historically from serious democracy deficits, inequalities and socio-economic exclusion that were at the root of the revolution.


The 2009 Libya Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report suggested that Libya is well placed to attain the goals by 2015. However, the reliability of the data cannot be verified due to the lack of standardized and validated development data.

Arab Spring and recent developments

Following the Revolution of 17 February 2011, the National Transitional Council (NTC) officially declared Libya an independent democratic state following 42 years of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, on 23 October 2011.


Youth were the main building block of the revolution and women played a key supporting role in food and healthcare supply to the fighters, information and transport/ smuggling of arms. The Declaration announced elections in 2012 to establish a National Congress for replacing the NTC, while an interim Government is formed for the transition. The specific constitution drawing body of the National Congress has the task to present a new draft constitution for Libya within 120 days of its installation. The draft constitution will be then submitted for approval by the people in a referendum requiring a majority of two-thirds of the electorate prior to final endorsement.


The NTC has identified ten priorities in its Strategic Plan (2012) to achieve transitional goals in the areas of security, democratic governance, transitional justice, social reconciliation, economic recovery, and basic service delivery.


Major development challenges in the country include:

- Security, Rule of law and Protection of human rights

- Economic recovery, job creation and youth employment

- Oil revenue management

- Public administration systems

- Participation of women

Recent results and impact of UNDP

Recent results (since the reopening of the UNDP Libya office and re-initiation of the programmes) include:

- Support to the Electoral Process

- Supporting the National Transitional Council and future National Congress

- Support for the Constitution-Making Process

- Institutional Strengthening, Public Administration, Accountability and Transparency

- Support to Civic Engagement in Libya’s Transition