Document Title: Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya
Date: 1 December 2016
Topic: Covering the period from 16 May 2016 through November 2016, the report discusses the major political and security developments in Libya, provides an overview of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country, and outlines the activities of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)
Women, Peace and Security
Pursuant to resolution 2291 (2016), the Secretary General’s report outlines the major political and security developments in Libya, with an overview of the human rights and humanitarian situations, and provides an update on the implementation of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) mandate. References to WPS issues have slightly decreased in terms of their quantity (from 11 to 10 references) since the last report (S/2016/452). However, unlike the previous two reports in 2016 (S/2016/182 and S/2016/452), the “Observation and Recommendations” portion of the report, which is a critical section for shaping future developments of the mission, makes two references to women, including “encourages all Libyans to continue to strive for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) on women and peace and security, and I call on the Presidency Council to ensure that women are adequately represented in the Government of National Accord.” In addition, like the previous report (S/2016/452), references to women broadly focus on their participation, and the report continues to maintain a section entitled “Women’s Empowerment” which focuses on women’s participation in political processes. Unfortunately, the report does not offer any analysis on the gender dynamics of the conflict itself, and, overall, the report is largely gender blind, missing key opportunities to identify women’s protection concerns in the precarious security sector.
Security Sector (Support to Military and Police, Security Monitoring, and Demilitarization and Arms Management)
Despite recognizing that the security situation remains “fragile” in Libya, the report misses an opportunity to provide any gender analysis or information on the situation for women in regards to security measures, providing a gender-blind discussion of the security situations in West, East, and South Libya, including the town of Sirte. At a minimum, the report should have provided sex disaggregated data for the casualties and injuries cited in the report. In addition, the report should have provided information on the impacts of women’s human rights in areas that remain under control of armed groups, particularly in Tripoli and in Benghazi. Overall, the report misses an opportunity to call on Libyan authorities to address the full range of violations and abuses of women’s human rights, and the differentiated impacts on women and girls of these violations and abuses, as well as forced displacement, enforced disappearances, and destruction of civilian infrastructure” (SCR 2122 (2013), PP. 7). In addition, the report should have advocated for the continuing need to increase women’s participation and the consideration of gender-related issues in all discussions pertinent to the prevention and resolution of armed conflict, the maintenance of peace and security, and post-conflict peacebuilding (SCR 2122 (2013), OP 7).
The report also misses the opportunity to discuss women’s protection concerns in relation to terrorism. Although the report cites continued violence by ISIL/Da’esh and other Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist organizations, including Ansar al-Sharia, the report fails to recognize the differential impact on the human rights of women and girls of terrorism and violent extremism, including in the context of their health, education, and participation in public life (SCR 2242 (2015), PP. 14) and to provide any information on women in territories controlled by terrorist organizations. In addition, although the report cites United States airstrikes as having “successfully rolled back ISIL gains,” the report provides no information or analysis on how women’s human rights and women’s organizations are impacted by counter-terrorism strategies (SCR 2242 (2015), OP. 12). Most alarmingly, while the report notes UNSMIL is working with Sirte Stabilization Committee, appointed by the Presidency Council, and international patterns to coordinate planning for comprehensive reconstruction plan for the city of Sirte, the report provides no information on how UNSMIL and the Sirte Stabilization Committee are taking gender into consideration and/or how women’s organizations have been engaged in design, planning, or implementation of such plans.
Beyond the town of Sirte, the report also misses numerous opportunities to provide information and analysis on how UNSMIL, through consultations with women and women-led organizations, is developing effective mechanisms for providing protection from violence, including sexual violence, to women and girls in security sector reform efforts (SCR 1820 (2008), OP. 10). The report notes that UNSMIL continues to assist in monitoring police and army deployments and in establishing a presidential guard, to be composed of a mix of police and army personnel; however, the report provide no information on the vetting procedures to establish these forces, including whether or not allegations of women’s human rights abuses, including sexual violence, are considered and/or whether these forces are provided training on gender, responding to sexual and gender-based violence, and sexual exploitation and abuse. The report also notes UNSMIL continues to engage with armed groups to widen the support for the Libyan Political agreement and to enable closer coordination among security actors in Tripoli; however, the report provides no information on whether or not women are included in these engagements and/or whether UNSMIL has stressed the imperative of women’s protection. Further, despite outlining efforts to counter improvised explosive devises and clear explosive remnants of war, the report provides no information on UNSMIL efforts to empower women, including through capacity-building efforts, as appropriate, to participate in the design and implementation of efforts related to the prevention, combating and eradication of the illicit transfer, and the destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SCR 2242 (2015), OP. 15). Overall, the report misses an opportunity to provide a gender lens to the security sector, particularly efforts undertaken by UNSMIL to improve the interim security in Libya, and to recommend that Libyan authorities, in assistance with UNSMIL, to raise the recruitment, retention and professionalization of women across all justice and security sector components in order to improve and advance rule of law based institutions that are gender-sensitive and effective at an operational level.
Political and Electoral Assistance
The report provides some information on the ways in which the UN system is supporting women’s participation in political processes, but the report does not provide comprehensive gender analysis of the political situation in Libya.
Although no information is provided on women’s participation in the constitution drafting process, the report notes that the United Nations electoral support team helped the High National Elections Commission to finalize a comprehensive gender-mapping document, entitled, “Electoral gender mapping: women’s participation in Libya’s national elections, 2012-2014,” to assist decision-makers in addressing barriers and minimizing factors that discourage women’s participation in elections. This reference would have been much stronger if it identified the key findings of the gender-mapping document, detailing the major barriers to women’s participation. In addition, the report details a number of UNSMIL activities to support women’s participation. After the Presidency Council established the Women’s Support and Empowerment Unit on 8 September, UNSMIL convened three meetings of the Women’s Advocacy Group to support the drafting of an advocacy plan targeting the Presidency Council and the House of Representatives, in which the Unit demanded that 30 per cent of the seats in the newly proposed Government of National Accord be allotted to women. In addition, on 4 and 30 October based on a request for technical support from women members of the House of Representatives, UNSMIL visited the House of Representatives in Tubruq and subsequently convened a conference for women parliamentarians, including from neighbouring countries, in Tunis. Further, UNSMIL organized three training events in Tunis in May, June and August on Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and women’s political participation, negotiation and conflict resolution, and, in partnership with UNDP, launched a two-year project entitled “Amal”, or “Hope,” aimed at providing technical assistance to women in institutions emanating from the Libyan Political Agreement.
Although the provision of this information is positive, the situation of women in the political sector is unknown from the information provided in the report. The report also misses an opportunity to provide sex disaggregated data on government positions, which would have given a better indication of women’s inclusion. It would have been particularly helpful to identify how many women currently hold an office in the House of Representatives. In addition, the outcomes of engagements between UNSMIL and women should have been reported on, with specific information on the kinds of technical assistance provided to women in politics by the mission. Overall, the report fails to demonstrate how the United Nations efforts to ensure women’s full and equal participation in all phases of the transitional political process are impacting women on the ground. At a minimum, the report should have also called on the Libyan authorities to recognize specific attention must be paid to women’s safety prior to, and during, elections (SCR 2122 (2013), OP 8).
Humanitarian Situation and Support
The report does not provide analysis of either the gender dimensions of the humanitarian situation, or the ways in which the humanitarian response, including emergency responses and contingency planning, are responding to gender-specific needs. There are no references also to women’s civil society participation in the design, planning or implementation of the humanitarian response. Overall, the report misses an opportunity to apply a gender lens to humanitarian assistance efforts throughout the country, particularly in the provision of medical care, ongoing psychosocial counseling and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, as mandated by SCR 2122 (2013). At a minimum, there should be sex and age disaggregated data provided for all statistical points, including information on the increasing numbers of conflict-related internally displaced persons, returnees, asylum seekers, and migrants.
Human Rights and Rule of Law
The report provides some information and analysis particular ways in which women’s human rights are being violated, but does not provide a comprehensive gender analysis of the human rights situation; however, there is some analysis of on women in detention. The report notes women are arbitrarily held in detention in Libya often because of personal affiliations. In addition, the report mentions that UNSMIL continues to receive numerous and consistent reports of torture, which include sexual violence, by armed groups in detention centres. Despite this inclusion, the report provides no information on women beyond detention centres. In particular, the report misses an opportunity to consider how women have been impacted by repeated attacks on medical facilities and other violent incidents.
At a minimum, the report should have provided sex-disaggregated data for all human rights violations cited and called on all armed parties of the conflict to uphold international human rights law, with an explicit focus on women’s human rights, including for women’s human rights defenders, journalists and other public figures (SCR 1889 (2009), OP. 3). Further, the report should have called for accountability for violence against women and an end to an environment of impunity for violence against women, including crimes of sexual and gender-based violence, with no amnesty for perpetrators (SCR 1325 (2000), OP 11; SCR 2122 (2013), OP 12). Overall, the report fails to apply a gender lens to the human rights situation in Libya, particularly the issue of detention, missing an important opportunity to link the human rights situation to the establishment of rule of law. The report should have called on Libyan authorities to strengthen the rule of law, including by addressing the full range of crimes of sexual violence in national penal legislation to enable prosecutions for such acts (SCR 2106 (2013), OP 2) and encouraging prompt investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators of sexual and gender -based violence (SCR 2242 (2015), OP 14).
The report provides no information or analysis on the ways in which women have been included in transitional justice and reconciliation processes. Although the report notes UNSMIL continues to support the Misratah/Tawergha Dialogue Committee and that the two parties signed an agreement in August 2016, which included provisions for reparations for victims of 2011 conflict and a plan to assist in the return of internally placed persons, the report provides no information on women’s participation in the agreement and/or the Committee. In addition, the report fails to provide information on how the agreement will impact women of both communities, including whether survivors of sexual violence will be compensated. Further, the report notes that UNSMIL is providing ongoing support to the development of a national reconciliation strategy by Libyan stakeholders; however, the report provides no information on the participation of women’s organizations at the national reconciliation workshops or how UNSMIL will engage women’s organizations in the design and implementation of the national strategy. Overall, the report misses an opportunity to demonstrate how UNSMIL will increase women’s participation and the consideration of gender-related issues in all discussions pertinent to the prevention and resolution of armed conflict, the maintenance of peace and security, and post-conflict peacebuilding (SCR 2122 (2013), OP 7) in Libya.
International cooperation and coordination
There were no references to women in regards to coordination efforts. At a minimum, the report should have advocated for all assisting entities, including international donors, to ensure women’s empowerment is taken into account during post-conflict needs assessments and planning, and factored into subsequent funding disbursements and programme activities, including through developing transparent analysis and tracking of funds allocated for addressing women’s needs in the post-conflict phase (SCR 1889 (2009), OP 9).
The report notes that the establishment of regular flights from Tunis to areas in Libya have facilitated the implementation of “core mandate areas,” including enabling UNSMIL to hold “discussions with women’s groups and advocates.” Although the provision of this information is positive, the report could have been improved by providing information on how these discussions with women’s groups are impacting UNSMIL work. In addition, the report should have provided information on the number of women and women’s organizations UNSMIL has been able to engage with as the result of these regular flights to ensure they are engaging with representative women’s groups.
It is imperative that Secretary-General reports on the situation in Libya integrate gender analysis and reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda, providing a balance between the the protection and participation aspects. Applying a gender lens throughout each section of the report would also ensure women’s concerns are adequately represented. As sexual violence continues to be identified within human rights discussions (S/2016/1011; S/2016/452), future reporting must provide a comprehensive discussion of women’s human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, and detail efforts by Libyan authorities to strengthen the rule of law, including by addressing the full range of crimes of sexual violence in national penal legislation to enable prosecutions for such acts (SCR 2106 (2013), OP 2) and encouraging prompt investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators of sexual and gender -based violence (SCR 2242 (2015), OP 14). In addition, as the security situation remains the major concern in Libya, the report must provide information on women’s protection concerns as well as information on efforts by the mission to ensure security institutions are gender-sensitive and effective at an operational level. Further, although the information on the UNSMIL assistance to women is positive, these references must improved to exemplify the outcomes of engagement with women’s organizations and provide specific information on technical assistance to raise women’s participation in political processes and transitional bodies. At a minimum, future reporting should ensure sex disaggregated data is provided for all statistical points in Secretary-General reports, and advocate for all assisting entities, including international donors, to ensure women’s empowerment is taken into account during post-conflict needs assessments and planning, and factored into subsequent funding disbursements and programme activities, including through developing transparent analysis and tracking of funds allocated for addressing women’s needs in the post-conflict phase (SCR 1889 (2009), OP 9).