Period: December 2016 - April 2017
United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2323 (2016) encourages the full, equal and effective participation of women in all activities related to the democratic transition, conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Libya and calls on the Libyan authorities to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict and to address impunity for sexual violence crimes in line with relevant UNSCRs, including 1325 (2000), 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015) (PP9). It also extends the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) until 15 September 2017. The mandate includes the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement and subsequent phases of the Libyan transition process (OPs1,2).
The report highlights the political advancements undertaken by the Government of Libya, emphasising unaddressed structural political issues and multiplicity of armed actors (para. 3). It also provides an update on the volatile security situation in the country exacerbated by the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Libya (ISIL) sleeper cells in the western coastal areas and the greater Tripoli area (para. 34). According to the report, continuing instances of human rights violations, including torture and arbitrary detentions, are perpetrated by all actors (paras. 14, 24). This situation left around 1,3 million people in Libya in need of humanitarian assistance (para. 67). Finally the report warns that there continued to be a significant risk of death and injury from explosive remnants of war and booby traps across Libya (para. 58). In this vein, the international community and mine action partners are expected to develop a plan for preventing and addressing this hazard (para. 58).
Of 97 paragraphs in the report, 17 (17,52%) include references to women and gender. This report specifically references the efforts on UNSMIL to promote the role of women in the political process through dedicated capacity-building programmes (para. 59), as well as to organise gender sensitisation training for the actors within the security sector (para. 61). Further steps outlined in the report include the appointment of the chairperson of the Women’s Support and Empowerment Unit, and the need to ensure that women are adequately represented in the Government of National Accord. However references to women focus on protection and participation aspects very broadly, without providing an in-depth comprehensive analysis of women’s situation in the country.
Women and youth, along with tribal councils, elders, civil society organisations and municipalities, are reportedly engaged in reconciliation at the local and community levels, including through the UNSMIL-led programme to assist and strengthen community reconciliation processes (paras. 48, 49). However these references lack an in-depth comprehensive analysis of the status of women’s participation in the country. Similarly the report does not offer any analysis women’s political participation. Even though the references to UNSMIL’s efforts to promote and support women’s political participation through dedicated capacity-building initiatives are included in the report (para. 59), the section on electoral assistance misses a necessary focus on the need for women’s meaningful political participation. Finally despite outlining efforts to counter improvised explosive devises and clear explosive remnants of war (para. 16), the report provides no information on UNSMIL efforts to empower women to participate in the design and implementation of efforts related to the prevention, combating and eradication of the illicit transfer, and the destabilising accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (S/RES/2242 (2015), OP15).
While torture, arbitrary detentions and sexual violence remain prevalent across the country, the report does not provide a comprehensive discussion of women’s human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, and detail efforts undertaken by Libyan authorities to develop protection and early-warning mechanisms, strengthen the rule of law and ensure accountability for human rights violations. As sexual and gender-based violence continues to be identified as the main area of concern, the report fails to outline specific steps to ensure effective prevention of, and protection from, conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, as mandated by UNSCR 2323 (2016).
In the context of deteriorating political situation in Libya, the report notes the work of UNSMIL to strengthen the country’s security institutions (para. 57); however there are no references to gender mainstreaming in this context. The report also fails to provide information and analysis on how UNSMIL, through consultations with women and women-led organisations, is developing effective mechanisms for providing protection from violence, including sexual violence, to women and girls in security sector reform efforts (S/RES/1820, OP10).
In his report, the UN Secretary-General commended Libyan women for actively engaging in peacebuilding initiatives and encouraged all Libyans to continue to strive for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (2000) on women and peace and security and UNSCR 2250 (2015) on youth and peace and security (para. 89). The report however does not provide any details regarding UNSMIL’s efforts to engage with women’s civil society organisations on this matter. While focusing on the issue of women’s participation in reconciliation processes, the report also misses to discuss efforts undertaken on the ground to counter negative societal attitudes regarding women’s equal capacity for involvement, including through gender mainstreaming (S/RES/1889, OP1). Finally the report does not discuss the support provided by relevant actors in order 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 (S/RES/1889, OP9).
It is imperative that the UN Secretary-General’s reports on the situation in Libya integrate gender analysis throughout each section of the report to ensure women’s concerns are adequately represented, providing a balance between the protection and participation aspects.
UNSMIL’s consultation with women house of representative members in October 2016 can be considered as a good practice example. The UNSG should encourage relevant actors to undertake these consultations on a regular basis as part of the establishment of a consultative mechanism with women’s civil society groups in all activities, including conflict resolution, peacebuilding and counterterrorism efforts. Although the information on the UNSMIL assistance to women is positive, these references must be improved to exemplify the outcomes of engagement with women’s organisations and provide specific information on technical assistance provided to raise women’s participation in political processes and transitional bodies.
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 the operational level. As sexual and gender-based violence continues to be identified as the main area of concern, the report should outline specific steps to ensure effective prevention of, and protection from, conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, as mandated by UNSCR 2323 (2016).
The UN Secretary-General should inquire UNSMIL to strengthen its disarmament work, as disarmament is a key element for preventing further escalation of the conflict and promote the full and effective participation of women in all discussions on disarmament and arms control. Moreover the systematic collection of information and data about women in conflict is vital for the conflict prevention. Therefore the UN Secretary-General should report on the gender dynamics of the situation in Libya, including in the political, security and humanitarian sectors, and provide sex- and age-disaggregated data whenever possible.