PCi organised a three-day youth forum in the coastal town of Zuwara, bringing together over 95 young activists, working on social peace and local development, from 27 towns and cities across east, west and south Libya in March 2020. Youth make up 65 per cent of the population and are disproportionately under-represented in both national and local government institutions.
One young woman from Almarj told her inspiring story about how she had established a centre for women’s literacy in Tulmaitha, with the support of the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership; thirty illiterate women who wanted to learn how to read and write have subsequently graduated. She said: “Sharing my story shows other young Libyans that nothing is impossible; I became really motivated to work for my society when I realised that I could achieve my goals.”
Another young man from Sabrata established five sport pitches and engaged both young women and men from the surrounding five towns to participate in the sports for peace initiative. He explained: “There are many young people who have great ideas but are afraid to implement them because there is so much pressure in society; I really hope that by sharing my success story today, I will encourage other youth to take that step forward.”
A young woman from Ubari explained how she had opened a paramedic training centre to ensure that all residents in the town were able access to health care. This achievement led her to getting involved with the Ubari Social Peace Partnership where she worked to resolve local tensions in the community and subsequently established a women’s peacebuilding collective.
The youth forum highlighted the importance of ensuring the voice of youth is included when working to overcome local, regional and national conflicts and demonstrated the power of national youth solidarity.
This is the first discussion note in a series intended to inform development of a new tool for conflict sensitive decision-making related to international humanitarian, development and peacebuilding assistance. The tool is intended to help decision makers determine whether an action is conflict sensitive before it is taken and consists of 5 tests, or questions, which should be considered. Click here for the discussion note.
This discussion note introduces and provides an overview to the tool. Subsequent discussion notes will look into particular tests or aspects of the tool. The discussion notes have been prepared as part of a consultation process with conflict sensitivity practitioners, donors and implementers to test and develop the tool.
The complex Libya context is characterised by escalating armed conflict, widening political polarisation, heightened inter-communal tensions and increased militarisation.
PCi developed a methodology which provides a systematic understanding of the range of capacities, responsibilities and functions within municipalities in east, west and south Libya in 2019. As a result, PCi produced 11 capacity assessments, working alongside municipal staff, that identified the strengths and weaknesses of 11 municipal administrations.
The subsequent dispersal of 22 grants (2 per municipality) sought to assist municipal staff strengthen specific areas, to promote a more cohesive and coordinated approach to municipal administration; as well as support municipalities to be more responsive to issues arising in their area. The methodology was supported by the Ministry of Local Government.
Municipal staff also convened consultations with civil society including representatives from the education and health sectors; this helped to improve understanding of the municipality’s work but also facilitated community participation in discussions on municipality priorities, contributing to improved legitimacy and trust. The Abu Salim municipality identified the health sector as a priority.
The arrival of COVID-19 in Libya in March 2020, presented another significant challenge to all levels of government, to both manage the pandemic and maintain legitimacy and trust. PCi’s Project Officer said: “When the first case of COVID-19 was identified in March 2020, Abu Salim municipality staff carried out a rapid assessment that revealed a shortage in sterilisation supplies for hospitals and health clinics and used one of two PCi grants to buy over 30,000 litres of sterilisation materials. Subsequently volunteers were mobilised by the municipality’s Health Service Office to carry out bi-weekly sterilisation in health facilities, which provide services to thousands of people, reassuring citizens and supporting long-term stability in the area and demonstrating solidarity with all communities living in the municipality.”
There was a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the eastern town of Ajdabiya in September 2020; this led the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership to interact and work even more closely with the municipal council, health authorities and security forces in support of an effective response.
The municipal council had put in place a strategy to mitigate the impact of COVID 19 which involved two teams; the first enforced a 14-day quarantine (for repatriated Libyan citizens) in line with international guidance and the second team operated two fully equipped make-shift isolation wards for COVID-19 patients in a local public school. Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership members were involved in both teams but became aware of the poor communication and patchy coordination and saw an opportunity to improve this situation and worked and supported the stakeholders to do this by collaborating closely with the local representative from the National Centre for Disease Control. As a result, the two teams merged into one, leading to a significant improvement in communication and coordination and this included the smooth transfer of operations to a new quarantine wing in a hospital.
Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership members have been involved in PCi’s Social Peace and Local Development programme, acquiring the skills to establish important relationships in the community, as well as promote a culture of collaboration amongst local actors. Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership members also reached out to the security forces who were struggling to enforce rules and maintain order in the town due to a lack of adequate crisis management training and a national pandemic strategy; they provided them with contactless thermometers, sanitisers and masks. The head of the Ajdabiya SPP explained: “We saw this as an entry point to reach out to them. Being able to provide some concrete support to their work really helped us build trust and improve the COVID-19 coordination in the city.”
The Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership worked in other ways, to build trust within the community and mitigate the impact of the pandemic by:
Collaborating with Ajdabiya local radio station to host a programme on COVID-19 which was so popular it is now a regular part of programming
Installing social distancing marking stickers in public buildings such as banks, clinics and pharmacies, as well as supplying masks to citizens. One Social Peace Partnership member said: “With support from PCi, we produced more than 3,000 medical masks, sourced a number of thermometers, and distributed them to key workers who are most exposed to contracting the virus, such as police, detention centre, and traffic patrol officers.”
Promoting reusable masks for economic and sustainability reasons, to help families with accessing face coverings; in addition, providing the sewing pattern to individuals with sewing skills to make them
Building on the results of these initiatives, the Social Peace Partnership continues to monitor the situation in the town to identify community needs and address them in cooperation with other local actors and to minimise the impact of COVID-19.
PCi’s CEO Fleur Auzimour Just addressed the meeting hosted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 5 September 2018 in Berlin, which examined how Germany and European partners could more effectively strengthen stabilisation efforts that advance a meaningful political process in Libya. The meeting – ‘Order from Chaos: Stabilising Libya the Local Way’ – brought together a range of Libyan and European interlocutors who included Abdelbari Shinbaro, the Deputy Minister for Local Governance of the Libyan Government of National Accord; Dr Christian Buck, Ambassador and Regional Director for the Near and Middle East and North Africa German Foreign Office; Suliman Ali Zway, a Libyan researcher/journalist; and Tarek Megerisi, Policy Fellow at ECFR.
Peaceful Change initiative and AFAQ Libya undertook research at the community level in nine target areas along coastal Libya to help inform planning for the development and democratisation of security provision, so that such processes 1) are responsive to the needs of local communities; 2) are ‘conflict sensitive’, in that they do not result in increased tensions or a return to violence; and 3) provide a platform for future reconciliation between different interest groups in the country.
Libyan society is undergoing significant change as a result of the revolution/conflict in 2011, bringing substantial opportunities for a more inclusive political system and more accountable security services. At the same time, the revolution/conflict has weakened relationships between some communities in Libya, as well as exposing longer-term inter-communal conflicts. As such, successful transition depends on a comprehensive peacebuilding approach that helps communities to share perspectives, overcome grievances and map out a common future. PCI and AFAQ Libya have developed a policy brief that outlines an agenda for such an approach in Libya.
Tim Molesworth, PCi’s Senior Adviser, Conflict Sensitivity and Peace Technology, participated in the annual meeting of the global Conflict Sensitivity Community Hub in Beirut, Lebanon, from 17-19 July 2019. The Hub brings together international and local organisations to promote and develop the concept and practice of conflict sensitivity.
The 2019 Hub meeting provided an opportunity to exchange knowledge, experience and tools relating to conflict sensitivity between participating organisations. Tim presented PCi’s experience facilitating the Libya Conflict Sensitive Assistance Forum since 2013, sharing some of the lessons learned and discussing how the experience could be relevant in other contexts. The meeting also provided an opportunity for the Hub to connect with the recently established Local Conflict Sensitivity Forum in Beirut facilitated by House of Peace, and to share perspectives.
PCi worked with Libyan communities to foster transformational leaders able to manage the conflicts affecting their communities. This work was conducted for the European Union, as part of its support to civil society in Libya, and delivered through EUNIDA. Lessons learned from the project were made public in June 2014, along with the training material used. A short video was also released, giving an insight into the challenges for, and role of, local leaders in building peace in Libya.
In this webinar, PCi’s Senior Advisers Lesley McCulloch and Anthony Foreman shared the key findings of a new PCi report on the challenges and opportunities of, and lessons learned from, mainstreaming conflict sensitivity in remote programming contexts. They discussed the evolution of the remote programming model employed in Syria and Libya, where PCi works to support and build the capacity of local leaders to manage conflict.