Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman arrived in Libya on 10 January to discuss with Libyan leaders the implementation of the United Nations Action Plan for the country and ways to bolster international support for Libya. Today we look, along with our colleagues in the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), at what the Plan entails and how the UN, led on the ground by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ghassan Salamé, has been working with Libyans to bring it to life.
UN Action Plan for Libya
The Plan – which provides, among other things, for amending the Libyan Political Agreement, organizing a National Conference, preparing for elections and providing humanitarian assistance -- was unveiled at a high-level event held during the General Assembly’s latest session last September. The meeting was convened to relaunch the Libyan political process under the facilitation and leadership of the United Nations. The Action Plan is, “in essence, a synthesis of the hopes and goals of the Libyan people,” says Special Representative Ghassan Salamé. “Libyans are tired of moving from one transitional period to another. I am not here to remove what is temporary and create another.”
Since the launch of the Plan, which revived the previously stalled political process, Salamé and UNSMIL have been working on all its components simultaneously.
“Libyans have taken positive and brave steps toward reconciliation and dialogue previously seen as unacceptable to the parties themselves,” Salamé says.
Here’s some of what has been achieved under the Plan in the last three months:
LPA Amendments: UNSMIL has convened two rounds of meetings of the Joint Drafting Committee (JDC) of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State, two bodies that have been at odds. The discussions -- first round from 26 September to 1 October and second round from 14 to 21 October -- produced progress, particularly pertaining to the executive branch’s structure and responsibilities. Since the holding of the JDC meetings the two bodies have remained in contact.
The convening of the JDC ushered other equally important firsts:
- The mutual recognition of the two assemblies
- The revitalization of the two bodies -- both have since held sessions with record high attendance (strengthening national institutions); and
- Acknowledgment by the assemblies of the LPA.
Convening of the National Conference: UNSMIL is well into the preparations for the National Conference – alMultaqa alWatani. The Special Representative has been holding town halls across the country, bringing Libyans together -- municipal representatives, tribal leaders, parliamentarian, security officials, youth, academics, women and activists -- to hear directly from them their priorities, visions and solution for Libya. The town halls also aim at addressing and overcoming societal fragmentation in order to enable Libyans from across the political spectrum to come together in one place and agree on their national narrative and on tangible steps to end the transition.
UNSMIL has also been working on local reconciliation, bringing, in some cases, feuding communities to sit around one table, for the first time since 2012. Examples include the 27 November meeting between delegations from the Amazigh city of Kabaw and the Siyan Arab tribe from the Nafusa Mountains, which resulted in an agreement paving the way for future reconciliation; the 21 September dialogue between delegations from Zintan and Tripoli facilitating the return of internally displaced persons in Zintan to the capital; and an 11 November meeting between women from the Awlad Suleiman and Gaddadfah tribes.
Elections: UNSMIL has secured the needed financial support and provided the required technical assistance to the High National Election Commission (HNEC) to prepare for elections in 2018. On 6 December 2017, the HNEC commenced the voter registration process. As of 11 January, the HNEC has registered about half a million new voters, bringing the total number of registered voters to nearly 2 million. Currently, the mission is working with the Libyan parties to facilitate the political, security and legislative conditions required for elections to be held.
Humanitarian assistance: UNSMIL and the United Nations Development Programme have managed to increase the funding of a “Stabilization Facility” that has brought tangible benefits to Benghazi, Kikla, Sebha, Sirte, Ubari (and which is expanding to Bani Walid and Greater Tripoli) by allowing the reopening hospitals and schools, providing solar power and supporting the health and education sector as well as public service delivery.
UNSMIL is also working with Libyans and international actors to enhance delivery of humanitarian assistance and reach out to all those in need, including by redoubling its efforts in assisting migrants and victims of human trafficking.
The Mission has been a vocal advocate for effective and capable institutions that improve Libya’s service delivery and manage its economic resources properly. This includes the management of Libya’s frozen assets.
“It’s outrageous that a country which stands upon such vast wealth has so much suffering,” Salamé says. “However, it does, and so we must assist them to tackle these concerns.”
Title picture: Special Representative meeting with women activists and community leaders in al Bayda, Libya. Photo: UNSMIL/Abel Kavanagh