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.