By Rebecca Bonechi
Civil society in Libya plays a prominent role in promoting inclusivity in political and peace processes: it represents the backbone of the peacebuilding infrastructure that is needed to build sustained peace. This is the mission of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, which gathers a range of local and national initiatives raising the views and demands of youth, women, and historically underrepresented groups. It does so through facilitating consultations, surveys, focus group discussions, and other mechanisms aimed to ensure that they have a say in the making of Libya’s future governing authorities.
Its recommendations advocate for greater representation and participation of these groups, including through inscribing their rights in the new constitution, building a fair, legitimate and functioning government, and increasing security and accountability. Through different mechanisms and platforms, civil society continues to play a vital role in managing the conflict and building peace across the country. Locally, community-based organisations convene and facilitate dialogue between different communities, monitor tensions, manage conflicts and crises, and strengthen social cohesion.
During COVID-19, civil society groups like Social Peace Partnership played a key role in local responses to manage the pandemic and its impact on communities, including through providing emergency food, medicine, and protective equipment, and rebuilding livelihood opportunities. The organization Peacemakers’ Network-Libya has conducted a campaign of solidarity, respect and cooperation considering these concepts as essential components to combat the health crisis. Members of 12 different communities prepared a video, then posted on all social media, where recommendations were given on behaviors to be held to minimize the social, economic, as well as health, the epidemic. The message brought with it a broader aspect, namely the consideration and respect for the other and their Here solidarity becomes the only way out of the crisis.
Moreover, Network members have developed a strategic approach to helping other peacebuilders in Libya contribute to peace between communities. They agree on criteria for supporting local peace-building actions, jointly select initiatives they believe should be supported and thus provide their personal support for this work and monitor their implementation. This approach to supporting local peacebuilders means that effective individuals or small organisations who might ordinarily struggle to find material support for their work can also contribute to peacebuilding, enjoy the support of experienced Libyan peacebuilding organisations.
This system bring together representatives of different communities across conflict divides in order to carry out peace initiatives, counter divisive narratives and hate speech, and promote reconciliation. Civil society and community-based organisations continue to promote greater inclusion of women, youth and historically underrepresented groups by strengthening their technical and leadership skills, so that they are better able to participate meaningfully in peace- and decision-making processes.
Cover Image: photo of the activities carried out by the Peaceful Change Initiative in Lybia (https://peacefulchange.org/north-africa-libya/how-it-works-social-peace-partnership/)