Programme: North Africa

The Peacemakers Network – Libya, collaborates with the Italian NGO – Agency for Peacebuilding – to comment on Libya’s postponed elections

The Peacemakers Network, a group of individuals from Libyan civil society, local government, media and academia, who work to find solutions to promote sustainable peace (supported by PCi) have collaborated with The Agency For Peacebuilding (www.peaceagency.org) and produced an article commenting on Libya’s postponed elections, that were scheduled for December 24 2021. This was published by Huffington Post Italia on December 24, 2021 which can be read in Italian here.

Click here to read an edited English version of the article on the Agency For Peacebuilding website; an extract is outlined below:

“Members of the Peacemakers Network truly believe that holding an election is the only way to save Libya, get it out of its current crisis, and put an end to the state of division. And they are not the only ones. The elections will pull the rug out from under all parallel bodies created since 2011, as well as those who want to impose their views and control the country, including the many actors are standing in the way of realizing the Libyan people’s aspirations and desire to build a civic and democratic state.

There are, indeed, high expectations for the anticipated elections, which many Libyans see as a historic and pivotal event that shall end the conflict, and it would be a mistake to think that these expectations can simply be ignored. Past and recent events have, in fact, left the country’s three historic regions and various ethnic groups (Arabs, Tebu, Amazigh, and Tuareg) dissatisfied with the current situation. Each group is a volcano on the verge of erupting as a result of what it perceives as marginalization and an attempt to control its rights.

Elections are therefore important to stability and peace, and in order for them to be rescheduled shortly, Libyan actors and the international community must commit to and support its results and endorse what the Libyan people vote for in the ballots boxes.”

For more on the Peacemakers Network, click here.

Ikram’s Journey with the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership: Developing Skills that Benefit the Community

Ikram Mohamed Abdullah is the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership Public Relations Officer; she is a dynamic young woman who graduated from Ajdabiya University with a background in business and IT. She was invited to join the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership by the Head of the Partnership, who was impressed with her work in the community. The skills she has acquired through membership of the Social Peace Partnership have helped her both in conducting social peace initiatives and in her professional life.

Through the Social Peace Partnership, Ikram attended trainings on conflict analysis and conflict mitigation, strengthening her peacebuilding knowledge. She also participated in project management training, acquiring new skills in strategic planning and specifically SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) which have helped her to fundraise for her University. Ikram said:

“Ajdabiya University relied on the national government for funding (because it is a public institution) but unfortunately funding was cut because of the political crisis; this occurred at a time when student exams were about to start. When I met with people from the University, we discussed how we might use SWOT analysis to advocate for more funds and using this tool, we were able to mobilise networks, which resulted in private companies donating resources so that the exams went ahead.”

Ikram is proud of the social peace initiative to renovate the Ajdabiya General Hospital. The Social Peace Partnership produced a list of eight potential projects, that were announced on local radio. Residents were asked to vote for their favourite project with 80 per cent going towards the hospital renovations (involving 10 bathrooms, the construction of a separate entrance for Accident and Emergency and the construction of a women’s area to improve safety and privacy). The project was completed to a high standard, in three weeks, with over thirty volunteers helping out on specific tasks, including painting and plumbing – and within the budget of 40,000 LYD.

Ikram has also played a key role in the Social Peace Partnership efforts to strengthen livelihood opportunities for the most vulnerable community members in Ajdabiya. To date, over 200 people, including many women and youth, have been provided with vocational skills.  Ikram continues:

“Our sewing training project stands out to me, supporting women to earn an income. Selma, was a widow with five children who was struggling to make ends meet. She got a job as a cleaner with the Social Peace Partnership because her widow’s pension no longer covered her basic costs (due to inflation) and she fell into depression. Selma was invited to participate in the sewing workshop. She was very motivated and soon became the top student in the class. We gave her a sewing machine to take home so that she could start producing garments. She now works with a number of stores and supplies them with tailored pieces; she is slowly lifting herself and her family out of economic hardship.”

Unemployed women benefit from vocational skills training such as embroidery and knitting

Ikram’s work with the Social Peace Partnership and civil society more broadly has made her even more determined to pursue ambitious projects.

 “I want to make an impact and feel that I have achieved something important in my community. My work within the Social Peace Partnership has shown me that these projects matter to our society.”

She is particularly committed to continuing to support women in her community, so that they can play a more meaningful role and develop their potential.

“While women still face discrimination in our society, I believe that there is no obstacle too large that can prevent them from achieving their goals. We have the opportunity to take on positions as policymakers, to create real change.”

Strengthening Youth Civil Society Networks through the ‘Bader’ Campaign in Libya

In February 2021, a national campaign was launched to raise the profile of young peace leaders through the ‘Bader’ social media Facebook campaign (‘Bader’ means ‘initiate’ in Arabic).

The campaign gathered and disseminated stories of youth leadership in peacebuilding and civil society projects – and called on young Libyans to submit their ideas for projects that promoted social peace, community cohesion, gender equality and social inclusion. The campaign received over 15,000 likes from people spanning over 30 cities in Libya; this popularity led to over 500 story submissions in the space of one month. 

Salem Ibrahim was one of three prize-winners. He is a civil society activist from Benghazi who works at the Civil Society Commission. He is committed to supporting young people to start up and manage their own organisations, creating civil society support networks. He recently launched an online platform called ‘Impact’, which helps people launch their own community projects. Salem also focuses on supporting civil society actors to advocate amongst government decision-makers and raise awareness about the importance of a legal framework to protect civil society in the country.

Salem’s aspiration was to organise a series of training sessions that sensitise Libyan decision-makers/politicians about challenges/obstacles that civil society in Libya faces, including restrictions on their activity. The training sessions would include information on international principles of civil society protection, the role of civil society in dialogue and national reconciliation, and the value of establishing and managing peace-building networks.

To watch Salem’s story, click on the video below.

Amplifying the Voices of Young Activists in Libya

The ‘Bader’ campaign was launched on Facebook on 17 February 2021, on the 10-year anniversary of the Libyan uprising. The campaign provided a platform for young leaders from different communities in Libya to talk about their experiences of promoting peace, social cohesion, and women’s inclusion. By amplifying the voices of young peace activists, Bader sought to inspire others to take action. Within a month of its launch, the Bader Facebook page had received 15 thousand likes and over 500 stories had been submitted by young activists across Libya. Through the campaign, 3 young leaders were selected to receive grants of up to 20,000 LYD to implement their projects. One of these young leaders is Mona.


Mona is a 29-year-old media activist from Sebha with a degree in Radio and Television Media. She has launched an online radio station called ‘Voice of Peace’ to promote social cohesion in the south of Libya. The radio station broadcasts in the three languages spoken by Sebha’s different community groups, Arabic, Tebu and Targi, to promote inclusion and mutual understanding. The radio station will host young people from these community groups to spread positive messages of peaceful coexistence. Mona was fundraising to purchase the necessary transmission and studio equipment that will allow her team to develop the project and move from internet to radio broadcasting, so that they can reach more people in Sebha and the Fezzan region.

To watch Mona’s story, click here.

The Peacemakers’ Network – Libya, launches campaign to counter hate speech on social media

The Peacemakers’ Network – Libya, has launched a campaign to counter hate speech on social media “Our difference does not separate us”. It is based on workshops that were held in 12 Libyan cities between February 27 and March 5 2021, with support from Peaceful Change initiative. The target audience included media professionals, activists and social media activists in the regions. A webinar was convened on 10 March (in Arabic with English translation) to support the connection of target audiences and to introduce the campaign and motivate the audience to be a part of it. For more visit Campaign Facebook Page  and/or The Peacemakers’ Network, Libya Facebook Page

The Peacemakers’ Network – Libya, gives Libyans from both sides of the conflict divide a vehicle to work together in an institutional way, to seek funding autonomously, and to amplify the voice of its diverse membership and is registered with the authorities.

Promoting understanding of conflict sensitive communications to international assistance providers working in Libya

In early March, Peaceful Change initiative (PCi) delivered a training on Conflict Sensitivity and Communications to international assistance providers working in Libya. The relationship between the communications environment and peace and conflict in Libya was explored including the polarised media and social media environment; the use of communications as a political tool and the expression of inter-group tensions online. Participants were able to look at how their communication activities may feed into the peace and conflict dynamics with negative or positive impacts and discussed how to manage such impacts. They also learned about how their communications could be used as a tool to support conflict sensitivity.

Conflict sensitivity comes from the recognition that humanitarian, development and peace-related assistance may have unintended impacts on peace and conflict. PCi works to promote conflict sensitivity in policy and practice within the humanitarian, development and peace fields.

The training is part of a broader training series provided through the Conflict Sensitive Assistance (CSA) in Libya programme, funded by the European Union and the Embassy of Switzerland to Libya. The training series provides different staff functions of international assistance providers working in Libya with the understanding, confidence and tools to apply conflict sensitivity to their work. For more information, send an email to libyacsa@peacefulchange.org.

Social Media youth campaign to strengthen the role of young Libyans in peacebuilding

Peaceful Change initiative, through the Social Peace and Local Development Programme has launched ‘Bader’, a social media youth campaign to strengthen the role of young Libyans as peace actors. Through amplifying the voices and experiences of young peacebuilders and civil society activists, Bader aims to inspire young people to take action and engage in peace, social cohesion, gender equality and social inclusion initiatives in their own communities.

The campaign will use social media to connect young peace leaders from across the country and facilitate knowledge and learning exchanges. This will support the strengthening of existing youth networks, as well as building new relationships among peace leaders with diverse experiences and backgrounds, challenging divisive narratives through meaningful interactions around peace and youth issues. The young leaders are being encouraged to tell their peace initiative stories and through the campaign, three of the participants will be awarded a grant to fund a new initiative. Please visit  https://www.facebook.com/bader.libya.pci

Libya: Promoting public engagement with the Constitution

The development of a new Constitution is a central pillar of a peaceful political transition in Libya. While the Peacemakers’ Network recognised the importance of the Constitution during the transition process, they had concerns that few communities across the country had access to credible information about the draft Constitution text, or measured debate about what the purpose of a Constitution is. Joint analysis by the Peacemakers’ Network members indicated an urgent need to foster constructive public debate about the Constitution to overcome citizen apathy and disengagement from a key part of the country’s transition process. Peacemakers’ Network member Ms Khadija Elboashi, Lecturer in Law at Tripoli University, said: “What was disappearing from the debate is any understanding of what a Constitution is and what role it plays in the life of a nation.”

To this end, two members of the Peacemakers’ Network, from different parts of Libya, took the lead in developing a campaign on public engagement with the Constitution drafting process. Due to the highly polarised nature of traditional media and social media in Libya, the Peacemakers’ Network opted for an approach of direct, face-to-face engagement with local leaders and influencers. The Peacemakers’ Network subsequently developed a set of tools and materials for facilitating workshops, town hall meetings and similar events focusing on the Constitution; trained Peacemakers’ Network members in how to use these materials; and embarked on an ambitious project to hold public engagement meetings in all parts of Libya. The Peacemakers’ Network engaged with the Constitutional Drafting Assembly throughout.

Rabha’s Journey: from vocational trainee to champion of women’s inclusion

Rabha

Rabha

Rabha is a member of the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership and an important role model for women in her community. With support from Peaceful Change initiative, Rabha implemented a successful women’s literacy project, teaching local women to read and write for the first time. The Department of Education decided to fully fund the school and to expand the initiative to neighbouring towns.

Tulmaitha is a quiet town situated along the east coast of Libya, often overlooked by development projects. It has suffered conflict, as well as political, economic and social upheaval. Rabha explains that the lack of opportunities for women in the town have led to their marginalisation and women struggle on many levels.  She said: “I had the opportunity to finish my university studies at Benghazi University in Al-Marj and this has enriched my life but I always thought about those women who have not had the same opportunities.”

This women’s literacy project highlights that in a context where conservative social norms are an obstacle to women’s participation in decision-making processes and broader inclusion in public spheres, women’s meaningful participation is possible.

For more on Rabha’s story, click here

Libya: Mitigating the impact of violent conflict through the engagement and participation of youth in the provision of community services

In towns and cities across Libya, the youth are extremely vulnerable as it is difficult for them to find meaningful employment, leaving them with a lot of free time. In Libya’s fragile and challenging context, this precarious situation can further fuel the flames of conflict, as the youth seek alternative opportunities, which can include joining a militia or becoming involved in criminal activities.

The Social Peace and Local Development grants support and encourage citizens and particularly youth, to be actively engaged and participate in their local community affairs. The grants are distributed through the Social Peace Partnerships in Libya, with support from Peaceful Change initiative. The grants have the potential to develop and mature, with some of the projects succeeding in independently securing funding and support.

Tulmaitha is a village situated in eastern Libya, over 100 kilometres east of Benghazi and forms a part of the Al Sahel Municipality, known for its beautiful and expansive beaches. An important part of Libyan culture is going to the beach to socialise with friends and swimming lessons are included in the school curriculum.

Prior to 2017, the Alsahel Municipality was unable to provide a life guard service, while sea rescue centres in the area were neglected. This created tensions, due to a large number of drowning incidents and children were particularly vulnerable because of strong undercurrents. 

Hamad is 31 years old and born in Tulmaitha. He is a former combatant and after 2011 returned to his hometown but could not find work. When the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership opened up a Youth Grant opportunity in 2017, Hamad and his brother submitted a proposal to establish a volunteer Sea Rescue Centre. This was approved by the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership and Hamad was responsible for training 20 young people from the area to be life guards, as well as managing the use of a fully equipped boat, new diving suits and first aid equipment. During their first season between June and September 2017, the volunteer Sea Rescue Centre saved over 50 lives. 

As a grant winner Hamad was invited to join the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership, he said: “Upon becoming a member of the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership, I felt a sense of belonging to my community; being able to help people on a daily basis has made me a new person.”

The presence of the volunteer Sea Rescue Centre encouraged more people to visit the beach, as they felt safer – which was also good for local business. Over several months, the service provided by the volunteer Sea Rescue Centre became popular with residents and especially families, as well as the Municipality.

As the youth grant came to an end, Hamad and his team felt inspired and encouraged by their work. In late 2017, they produced a short video to raise more funds to ensure the volunteer Sea Rescue Centre was able to operate during the next beach season. In early 2018 the Alsahel Municipal Council officially accredited the Centre and listed it as an official partner, with the Municipality providing technical and financial support.

Official launch of volunteer Sea Rescue Centre with Municipal Council Representatives