In accordance with Article 7 of the Libyan constitution: “The national flag shall have the following shape and dimensions: Its length shall be twice its width, and shall be divided into three parallel color stripes; the uppermost shall be red, the center shall be black and the lowermost shall be green. The black stripe shall be equal in area to the other two stripes combined, and shall bear at its center a white crescent embracing a white five-pointed star, at its two extremities. Article 6 of the constitution states that “The emblem of the state and its national anthem shall be prescribed by law.”
The selection and significance of the design of the Libyan flag had been the subject of research by authors and scholars. According to Adrian Pelt, UN commissioner for Libya (1949 to 1951), that “during deliberations of the Libyan National Constitutional Convention, a paper drawing of a proposed national flag was presented to the convention by Omar Faeq Shinneeb (distinguished member of the delegation from Cyrenaica). The design was composed of three colors; red, black and green, with a white Crecent and Star centered in the middle black stripe. Mr. Shinneeb informed the delegates that this design had met the approval of His Highness Emir of Cyrenaica, Idris El-Senousi (later to become King of Libya). The assembly subsequently approved that design.”
The colors of the Libyan flag are rich with meaning and symbolism pertaining to Libya’s past and future. Red symbolizes the great sacrifice of the Libyan people during their long struggle for independence from colonial/ fascist Italy. The wider center stripe with its black background and white crescent and star, is the Senousi banner under which the struggle against colonialism was organized and fought since 1911. The same banner was later raised by the Libyan army of liberation fighting alongside the Allies during World War II against German and Italian forces in Egypt and Libya. The green color of the flag symbolizes hope, peace and prosperity for Libya’s future generations.
It is believed that the colors of the flag also celebrate the unification of the Libyan territories of Tripolitania, Cyranica, and Fezzan, and affirm Libya’s Islamic heritage: The red color is a reference to the flag of pre-colonial Ottoman Caliphate rule of the Libyan territories, and was also the prominent color on the flagships of Tripoli in the nineteenth century. The center black stripe (with its white crescent and star) is identical to the flag of the Emirate of Cyrenaica which declared its own independence in 1949, two years prior to the declaration of independence of the United Kingdom of Libya on December 24, 1951. The green is the traditional color of Islam, and also was the color of the large palm tree symbol that adorned the flag of the Tripolitanian Republic from 1918 to its annexation to Italy in 1923.
It is worth noting that the Libyan flag with its dignified beauty, and rich symbolism, was particularly chosen by the founding fathers of the Kingdom of Libya to reflect its national pride, and to celebrate the history and heritage of its people.