Doctoral dissertations are usually of little interest outside the world of academic research but a publication by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the eldest son of the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his second wife, is set to fuel the debate about the pace of democratic and economic reform in his homeland.
The 428-page thesis published under the surname Alqadhafi was filed at the Senate House library of the University of London last autumn. In it, Col. Gaddafi’s prospective heir apparent calls for democracy and greater influence for business in his vision of the world’s governing institutions, The Times reports.
Dr. Gaddafi has become an increasingly powerful voice in the oil-rich country, which has influence in both the Muslim world and the African Union. Although dismissed by critics as a playboy prince for his frequent international travel and attendance at celebrity parties, Dr. Gaddafi spent four years researching his thesis at the London School of Economics. While other doctoral students struggled to survive with occasional lecturing, the multimillionaire Libyan was also negotiating the release of the Lockerbie bomber and $1.5billion compensation for his victims, opening up his country’s oil and gas fields to international businesses and restoring diplomatic links with the U.S.
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”. He argues that the introduction of elected representatives of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) creates a more democratic global government and features a case study on the World Trade Organisation. Dr. Gaddafi says that there are “strong moral reasons” to explore reform of the World Trade Organisation because power is currently concentrated among a few northern states.
Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, supported Libya’s entry to the WTO last year while he was the EU Trade Commissioner. At home Dr Gaddafi, seen by many commentators as the favourite son of Colonel Gaddafi, has portrayed himself as a reformer. In 2006 the Libyan authorities suddenly announced that he was leaving the country after a two-hour speech to 15,000 youth activists that contained critical public comments of the regime.
Despite helping to end diplomatic hostilities with the United States during the final months of the Bush Administration, Dr. Gaddafi is scathing of his impact on the former President. He refers to the United States as the “new Leviathan” and writes that the “behaviour of the Bush Administration does not invalidate the liberal view that we can build meaningful international rule by law and institutions based on expectations and reciprocal obligations”.
Dr. Gaddafi commissioned consultants to carry out a survey of leaders in NGOs, which provided the data used in his thesis, The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions: From Soft Power to Collective Decision Making? The survey found that 91 per cent of respondents believed that there is a “democratic deficit” in intergovernmental institutions. Eighty-eight per cent believed that participation by NGOs would lead to better decision-making. Dr. Gaddafi concludes: “I believe that the evidence presented in this thesis suggests that the collective decision-making approach has real potential and deserves further examination.”