Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (S/2018/780)

Friday, August 24, 2018
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Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (S/2018/780)

Prepared By Colleen Bromberger

Reporting Period: 8 May-24 August 2018


Pursuant to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013), 2242 (2015), 2323 (2016), 2331 (2016) and 2367 (2017), the UNSC calls for the full, equal and effective participation of women in all activities related to the democratic transition, conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Libya and calls upon Libyan authorities to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict and to address impunity for sexual violence crimes (PP 11). Pursuant to Resolution 2376 (2017), the Security Council calls for the continued implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement (OP 1), and for the provision of essential services, and delivery of humanitarian assistance and in accordance with humanitarian principles (OP 2). In this vein, the Council requests the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to take fully into account a gender perspective throughout its mandate (OP 4).



The report covers the updates of the political situation in Libya as well as the following aspects of UNSMIL’s mandate (electoral support, human rights and transitional justice, security sector, women’s empowerment as well as coordination and international service). During the reporting period, the UN continued its work in encouraging political participation, particularly through the framework of the Libyan Political Agreement (para 6). Several high-level events were held in order to encourage international and regional engagement, including the African Union High-level Committee on Libya (para 7); a tripartite meeting between the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia (para 8); and a meeting among the four major Libyan actors in Paris, France (para 9). Violence continued in the eastern, southern and western regions, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targeted military personnel and civilians (paras 16, 17). UN Agencies continued to reach out to populations for assistance, including women, youth and internally displaced people (para 61).

Of the 88 paragraphs in the report, 12 (~14%) referenced women and/ or sexual and gender based violence, representing a three percent increase since the previous report. Of these 12 paragraphs, four (~33%) note women’s efforts in advocating for change within the Libyan political landscape or reference particular networks in which women have participated in to improve gender inclusivity. The other eight (~66%) references highlight women as victims of SGBV, detention and violence in Libya. Overall, the gender dimension was highlighted primarily through good practices of engaging women through political participation, given UNSMIL’s mandate to incorporate a gender-sensitive approach in its programming; however, the report failed to address the role of women and civil society organisations in developments relating to prevention of proliferation of small arms and light weapons, budgets cuts of protection services and the role of civil society organisations in future recovery efforts. Furthermore, the section on youth, peace and security does not address the asks of youth participations, such as the Together We Build it Organization, to ensure a minimum quota for youth and regular for youth with the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General to consult with the UNSMIL action plan.




Unlike the previous of report, which made no reference to the participation of women, the Secretary-General paid special attention to women’s participation in this report, with four (~33%) out of the 12 paragraphs on women focusing on women’s participation in both the political sphere as well as women-centered networks. In particular, the Secretary-General highlights the Women’s Empowerment Network, which convened during the reporting period to discuss integrating women in the Constitutional process (para 58), as well as the National Front Party and Nation Forces Alliance, both of which have elected women to high-level roles within the parties (para 59). With women’s overall participation at 30%, UNSMIL is working to increase participation across the region (para 60).

There remain several major gaps in the Secretary-General’s report on participation. For example, excepting a brief reference to the consultations held between Libyan legal experts and national and international partners and UNSMIL regarding constitutional framework, there is no explicit reference that women and civil society organisations were welcomed into the process (para 22). If women and civil society organisations were not included in the discussion with the experts, and rather consulted in a separate discussion, this will only further silos among parties and not assist in the creation of an inclusive Libyan constitution. Furthermore, the lack of an integrating discussion of the youth perspective is a gap in this report is problematic in incorporating a holistic and inclusive discussion from civil society.


Similar to the previous report, disarmament and weapons/ammunition management remained a key focus for preventing proliferation of arms. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) assisted in the management of arms, noting the difficulty in facilitating exchange of information among actors to ensure coordinated action (para 57). This reference was a missed opportunity to highlight the role of women in disarmament efforts, especially considering the recent event in December 2017 for women to raise awareness of small arms and light weapons. Furthermore, civil society organisations were not noted as included in the disarmament work; this is particular problematic, considering the recent call from women civil society organisations to include women in discussions that are led by UNSMIL regarding disarmament and arms control.



The Libya Humanitarian Response Plan, which provides services such as protection and health, was critically underfunded, with 81% of the year annual budget missing (para 64). However, the report fails to note the gendered impact of these budget cuts, in particular, which programmes and services can no longer be offered. Disaggregated data regarding how funding adversely affects populations would assist in better managing resources in the future, as well as ensuring that the programming that is able to continue with reduced funding is still gender sensitive.  The implementation of a holistic Women, Peace and Security Agenda, even in the face of budget cuts and reduced financing, is critical to ensuring sustainable peace. Furthermore, in the context of providing comprehensive and holistic prevention services to vulnerable populations in Libya that are affected by conflict, gender inequality must be analysed and addressed. In this vein, the lens of multidimensional insecurities, which provides insight on how gender shapes the lived experience of poverty, is an important tool for future reports.


Relief and Recovery

An UNSMIL-led and Peacebuilding Fund-funded project assisted in reconstruction and reconciliation efforts through local dialogue within the region (para 44).  Capacity-building continued to be a strong priority for UNSMIL-related activities, as multiple training sessions and workshops were organised for civil society organisations, human rights defenders and human rights lawyers in Tripoli as well as remote locations (paras 48 and 49). While this is step in the right direction, the report fails to mention specifically the manner in which local dialogues occurred, in particular, if there was a presence of civil society organisations and women in these discussions. Furthermore, the Secretary-General pays particular attention to the gendered impact of detention, including “moral crimes” of consensual sexual relations (para 39). Some women were subjected to humiliating conditions, often in the presence of male guards, with migrant women experiencing more vulnerable situations (para 39). Conditions of the Judaydah Women’s Prison remained also a concern for the violations of international human rights law, with violent conditions (para 40).



In future reports, the meaningful participation should be integrated into all levels of both the work of UNSMIL as well as the Secretary-General’s reports. In doing so, the Secretary-General should request both the UN Special Envoy and UN Women to report on the efforts made to integrate gender analysis and the Women, Peace and Security provisions. Furthermore, it is imperative for UNSMIL facilitators to ensure that future discussions on constitutional frameworks include all parties at the same discussion to ensure that voices are heard, actions held accountable, and processes may be truly inclusive moving forward. It is equally imperative that future reports are clear in their representation of information, particularly in references to the inclusion of civil society, women and youth.

Moving forward, disarmament efforts must be incorporated into future UNSMIL programme-planning to ensure that the call of civil society organisations is adequately addressed. In this vein, the Secretary-General should request for State Parties involved in the conflict in Libya to document the gendered impact of arms and to report on national mechanisms for rigorous, transparent, and gendered risk assessments of international transfers of arms and export licences. Updates on the programme, the participants and the future steps for collaboration and awareness should be highlighted in all reports to ensure continuity in mainstreaming gender through disarmament efforts; this includes the comprehensive integration of civil society, women and youth in discussions on disarmament, weapons and arms control.

The adoption of disaggregated data must remain a priority for future reports in order to adequately address the the situation. The Secretary-General should call for the UN Special Envoy and UNSMIL to strengthen engagement with women peace activists, human rights defenders and women-led civil society for effective grassroots conflict analysis and response. Future reports must also include the need for gender-sensitive services for migrants who are vulnerable to arbitrary detention and SGBV, including through improving access to international protection through humanitarian visas, refugee resettlements, and access to information and fair hearings. In a similar vein, gender-responsive protection mechanisms based on UNSMIL’s Action Plan for Libya, should be better implemented to ensure the protection of women human rights defenders and female political candidates or activists. Lastly, future reports should provide focus on the socio-economic reintegration of marginalised groups, like migrant women and ethnic minorities, in the Libyan peace process. To do so, the Secretary-General should discuss the role of UNSMIL in supporting local initiatives that promote reintegration and rehabilitation,as well as national initiatives to reduce unemployment, food insecurity and housing shortages.

Relief & Recovery
In order to address relief and recovery holistically, human rights violations, including SGBV and threats to Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) and civil society advocates must be investigated. This must be done through gender-sensitive transitional justice measures including restitution and reparations. A safe environment should also be established, in law and practice, so that judges and prosecutors can perform their obligations in line with domestic and international law to prosecute perpetrators of conflict-related crimes, without fear of retaliation. Future reports must address relief and recovery in a holistic approach, with special attention to how civil society organisations are working towards ending detention and drafting laws to protect migrants.