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Human Rights in Libya: UN States Prioritize End of Armed Conflict and Stability

1 June 2015

On Tuesday 13 May 2015 the United Nations member states revised the human rights situation in Libya as part of the Universal Periodic Review. Countries were numerous to share their recommendations to the Libyan delegation. Libya being in the midst of a proxy war and having become the pathway for migrants trying to get to Europe in a journey full of threats to their lives, the country faces multiple issues.

Our advocacy

WILPF, with our partner Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace, had engaged in the advocacy for this session and underlined particularly the need to end impunity of warlords, the need for transitional justice, security sector reform, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. We emphasised the importance of including women in these processes.

The Review

The recurring themes during the Universal Periodic Review were reconciliation, national peace dialogue, gender equality, education for all and the protection of human rights defenders among others.

Since the revolution, Libya has seen a surge in civilian deaths, civilian kidnappings and a disregard for human rights violations. States were adamant about a sustainable peace process with a reconciliation and reconstruction angle. Peace and security were at the forefront of most state recommendations with an emphasis in the strengthening of the judicial system. Strong national laws are a step in the right direction when combating human rights violations sending a clear message towards an end to impunity.

Sexual and gender based violence was also a recurring theme during the review with a clear emphasis to abide by Security Council resolution 1325. The delegation made a clear commitment to protect victims of sexual violence by applying new and stricter laws with the creation of a fund, dedicated towards the protection and promotion of gender equity. The inclusion of women in conflict resolution practices will ensure a participatory approach towards a non-violent peace and reconstruction process.

A clear and effective judicial system cannot leave room for continued impunity and a power vacuum. Recommendations were made in ending the impunity of militias, protecting human rights defenders and creating a transitional justice process. Canada in particular recommended for the inclusion of women in such a transitional justice process.

The proliferation of small arms was mentioned but not to our satisfaction, in particular if we take into account the enormous impact the widespread possession and use of small arms has on the human rights of persons in Libya. New Zealand called for the ratification and strict implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, which provides for the need to assess and stop any arms transfer if human rights can be violated with those weapons. There were however no other mentioning of DDR or SSR and the inclusion of women in the decision-making of these processes. These elements will however be essential for sustainable peace.

Our advocacy further succeeded in providing recommendations on the need for temporary measures to ensure the full participation of women in this crucial transitional period and to fully include women’s rights in the Constitution.

What next?

You can read the report of the UPR Working Group on Libya.

WILPF International Office and Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace will monitor the implementation of the recommendations in Libya. These recommendations will be an essential advocacy tool to ensure a democratic transition to peace in Libya and in particular to implement the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. We should also hold the government accountable for the engagements made in Geneva and for this it is crucial to spread the word about them in Libya.

Therefore, it is paramount to always refer back to these recommendations when other human rights bodies review Libya.

We will keep you updated on further outcomes of this process; so stay in touch and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or even better, subscribe to our newsletter, so that you get the latest news directly in your inbox.

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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