U.S.-Libyan Relations: An Analytic Compendium of U.S. Policies, Laws, and Regulations
This compendium presents the texts of the U.S. policy statements, laws, and regulations (or relevant parts thereof) that govern U.S. relations with Libya, on both the bilateral and multilateral levels. Before each document or group of documents is an analytic summary which highlights the context, major provisions, and significance of the policy, law, or regulation in question as it relates to U.S.-Libyan relations. At the end is an essay entitled, “Removing Restrictions on U.S.-Libyan Relations,” which discusses how a U.S. government seeking to do so might go about the process of normalizing relations, taking either a comprehensive or incremental approach.Download the PDF
This compendium contains the text of the major Executive Orders, laws, and regulations governing U.S. interactions with Libya. (Errors or inconsistencies in Government documents were reproduced verbatim from the official texts.) Also provided are the texts of the three UN Security Council resolutions related to Libya’s involvement in the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, as some U.S. sanctions are at least indirectly linked to Libya’s compliance with these UN resolutions.
The documents contained in the compendium are not all Libya-specific; some laws discussed apply to Libya because of its designation, under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979, as a state sponsor of terrorism. Libya was placed on the “terrorism list” at its inception in 1979. Numerous other laws or Executive Orders that seek to curb proliferation could apply to Libya as well, but are not discussed here.
Libya is subject to one of the strictest U.S. sanctions regimes in existence. Iran is sanctioned to an almost equal degree, though in the case of Iran there are no restrictions on the use of U.S. passports for travel to the country, as is the case for Libya. Although the applicable laws and regulations have the effect of virtually eliminating U.S.-Libyan commerce, they do not prevent the President from authorizing political dialogue with Libya, or even reestablishing diplomatic relations, if he were to so choose. Since 1999, the United States has conducted a dialogue with Libya on outstanding issues related to the Pan Am 103 bombing. Libya has also reportedly cooperated with the United States in the post-September 11th “war on terrorism” by providing information on groups that may be affiliated to Al Qaeda.
Many of the sanctions documents presented in this compendium are incorporated into “Libyan Sanctions Regulations,” Part 550 of Title 31, Chapter V of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). An overview of these regulations is provided in Section 11 of this compendium. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). That office reviews applications for licenses to conduct transactions with Libya in accordance with the regulations.
Most of the regulations flow from what is perhaps the most important Presidential determination on sanctions against Libya – President Reagan’s January 7, 1986 ban on U.S. trade and certain financial transactions with Libya (Executive Order 12543). This compendium contains one of the most significant modifications to that Executive Order, namely a determination in April 1999 (effective July 1999) to permit commercial sales of food and medical items to Libya. Also included is the provision of the Foreign Assistance Act that bans U.S. foreign assistance to Libya, as well as those provisions added to the Foreign Assistance Act by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
The provisions added by the Antiterrorism law are so-called “secondary sanctions” – sanctions on third countries that provide prohibited assistance to the target country. The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which penalizes foreign investment in the energy sectors of Libya and Iran, is another example of a secondary sanction. Such sanctions are widely criticized by U.S. allies and other countries as an extra-territorial application of U.S. law, and U.S. administrations have generally been hesitant to impose actual penalties under these laws. In early September 2002, however, the Bush Administration did impose some penalties on foreign entities that allegedly sold conventional weapons technology to Libya, Iran and Sudan.