Thursday, August 13, 2015
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Displacement and Humanitarian Response
Human Rights
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
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Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (S/2015/144) (S/2015/624).

Code: S/2015/624

Period of Time and Topic: Covering the period 26 February to 13 August 2015, the report provides an update on the implementation of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) mandate and outlines the major political and security developments in Libya as well as provides an overview of the human rights and humanitarian situation.

Women, Peace and Security

In pursuant of Resolution 2213 (2015), the Secretary-General report provides an update on the implementation of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).WPS references have increased since the previous report (S/2015/144), both in terms of their number (from three to nine) and scope; however, WPS-references were again not mentioned in the Observations section of the report, which is a critical section for shaping future developments of the mission. Reference to women continue to center on women’s protection concerns. The report does not offer any gender analysis on gender and conflict and/or data on women in the security and political sectors. However, for the first time in 2015, the report provides some sex disaggregated data in the humanitarian sector and mentions sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Overall, the Secretary-General report is gender blind, missing key opportunities to identify women’s protection and participation concerns in Libya’s deteriorating security environment. There are also several WPS concerns highlighted in the mandate for which the report fails to provide sufficient information.

Security Sector: Military and Police, Security Monitoring, and Demilitarization and Arms Management

While the report notes that the overall security situation in Libya continues to deteriorate,emphasizing increasing activity by violent extremists, including the Islamic State (IS)/ Daesh and AL-Qaeda, there are no references to women or women’s protection and no sex disaggregated data is provided. The explanation of the security sector is divided into three sections to highlight the major actors and incidents of violence in western, eastern, and southern Libya. The report misses an opportunity to highlight women’s protection concerns and/or women’s participation in all three areas of the country. This is particularly alarming as the report notes significant changes in all three areas, including growing rapprochement among violent actors in the West, with continued fracturing of the Libyan Dawn forces,[1] urban wars of attrition in the East,[2] and significant increase in tribal and local fighting in the South.[3] In addition, according to the report, Islamic State/ Daesh has made some significant territorial gains in both the West and East of the country, utilizing violent tactics including suicide bombings, beheadings, and and crucifixions.[4] The report misses an opportunity to provide information on how women are affected by the major players of violence, including Libya Dawn Coalition, Misratan forces, Zitan Operation Dignity, the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (which includes Ansar Al-sharia), Mujaheddin Shura Council, the Islamic Youth, the Fazzan branch of the Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and independently operating military forces of the former regime. The report further misses an opportunity to provide gender analysis of on-going violent extremism, particularly perpetrated by IS and its armed affiliates. At a minimum the report should provide sex disaggregated data on all conflict-related data, including civilian casualties, injuries, beheadings, and displacements, cited within these three sections. From the security evidence provided by this report, the situation of women is unknown.

The report also notes that UNSMIL continues to engage with security forces on interim security arrangements.[5] The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), as a component of UNSMIL, also continued to provide support to the Libyan Mine Action Centre through capacity-building programmes and the development of a database of arms and ammunition storage facilities in Libya.[6] However, the report provides no analysis or details of these activities, including information on women’s protection. The report misses an opportunity to discuss women’s participation in any security sector processes and/or how UNSMIL supports through financial, technical and/or political means women’s participation and/or whether women have directly benefitted from any UNSMIL-facilitated security activities.

The report further notes UNSMIL concern with the lack of capacity of Libyan security institutions to control and monitor its borders, which has resulted in increasing human trafficking by smugglers.[7] However, the report provides no analysis or details of these illegal activities, missing an opportunity to provide information on women’s involvement and impact. In addition, without sex disaggregated data on the number of civilians smuggled, deaths, and injuries, the gravity of women’s protection concerns are largely unknown.

Humanitarian Situation and Support

With regard to migrants from neighboring and third countries, the report notes that conditions of migrant centres do not meet minimum international standards, with poor sanitation and often no separation of men, women, and children, creating a heightened risk of sexial and gender based violence (SGBV). In addition UNHCR has successfully advocated for the release of persons of concerns, including “pregnant women in need of natal care.”

The report misses an opportunity to provide an understanding of the gendered dimensions of the humanitarian situation, particularly the impact of the conflict on women’s health and reproductive services, or on how gender-specific needs are being taken into account in the distribution of the humanitarian. The information on female migrants is inadequate, with no sex disaggregated data or information on actual instances of SGBV. In addition, there is no information on what happens to “persons of concern” following release from detention. In the remaining paragraphs on humanitarian assistance, the report only provides one statistics on women, noting that 435,000 people remain internally displaced in Libya, including approximately 290,000 “women and children.” The report lacks a discussion of the gender-sensitivity of emergency response and contingency planning. At a minimum, the report should provide sex-disaggregated on refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum seekers as well as sex disaggregated for those whom the UN provides medical and food services.

Human Rights

The report notes human rights violations and abuses continue across Libya, with women in public sphere particularly vulnerable to violence. Women human rights defenders have fled the country and/or have become silent in the face of assault, arbitrary detentions, and death threats. Likewise, women journalists are “vulnerable” to sexual assaults and harassment, with many also having fled the country. The report also cites the closure of non-governmental organizations offices. The report misses an opportunity to provide analysis between gender and conflict to explain why these women are the targets of violence. In addition, the report could be improved by sex disaggregated data and/or information on specific cases, particularly which violent factions are perpetrating this violence against women, to further highlight the protection risks and situation of women operating in the public sphere. 

In regards to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, the report notes that these populations remain vulnerable to prolonged detentions in abusive conditions, including sexual abuse and exploitation. Again, the report misses an opportunity to provide sex disaggregated data as well as information about sexual violence, including which actors are subjecting these populations to sexual abuse.

Overall, the report misses a significant opportunity to call for the protection of women’s human rights. In addition, women are notably absence from the discussion on indiscriminate shelling and human rights violations in Benghazi as well as the discussion of abductions, detentions, and torture. At a minimum, the report should provide sex disaggregated data on civilian deaths, abductions, detentions, killings, sexual assaults, and number of individual who have fled the country as the result of physical threats of any kind.

Rule of Law

The report does not provides any references to women or WPS in the report's discussion the judiciary and penal system and trials of officials of the former state regime. The report notes that fighting in different parts of the country has impeded the full functioning of the judicial system, particularly in Sirte, Derna, and Benghazi. In some areas, IS/Daesh has also set up sharia courts. The report cites the public execution of three men and the amputation of one man’s hand by an IS/Daesh court in Derna. The report misses an opportunity to provide analysis on the impact of violence on the judicial system and information on how this impacts women’s rights and access to justice. Most importantly, the report misses an opportunity to provide gender analysis of IS/Daesh courts.

Political processes and Electoral Assistance

In its discussion of the Libyan political dialogue process, the report cites several instances of women’s political participation facilitated by UNSMIL. Following a series of initial meetings convened with all the “main parties” in Libya in Geneva in January 2015, UNSMIL facilitated “separate discussions” with women’s groups and civil society representatives that had been integrated into “other dialogue tracks.”[8] The mission also undertook and support activities “in parallel to the official dialogue tracks,” which included some “influential women delegates.” UNSMIL also convened a meeting in Tunis (21-22 April 2015), which brought together some 40 Libyan women from across the country’s political spectrum, regions, and cultural and ethnic groups.[9] The report misses an opportunity to provide information on the outcomes of these meetings as well as how women’s recommendations were incorporated into the formal political dialogue process with the “main parties.” In addition, the report misses an opportunity to discuss whether women and/or civil society organizations participated in a number of cited processes with a number of parties, including meeting in Geneva in January 2015,[10] meetings in Skhirat, Morocco between March and June 2015,[11] three meetings in Algiers in between March and June 2015,[12] meetings with 28 municipal and local councils held in Brussels (March 2015) and Tunis (May 2015),[13] meetings in Cairo hosted by the Egyptian government with “tribal leaders,”[14] and meetings in Berlin, Germany that included a number of Member States.[15]

In the Libyan constitution drafting process, the report notes that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has provided support for constitution-related advocacy programmes, including a “campaign to include women’s concerns” on the constitution.[16] The report misses an opportunity to identify specific women’s concerns and/or the outcome of these campaigns. It is unclear whether UN entities are responsible for ensuring women’s concerns are addressed with relevant parties and/or if parties of drafting authorities met directly with women participants in these campaigns. As such, it impossible to determine the lines of accountability in the process to ensure women’s representation in the drafting process.

Overall, the report provides minimal information on women’s inclusion in the process. The report misses an opportunity to call for women’s participation in discussion with “main parties,” constitutional drafting process, and all political transition processes to ensure a National Unity Government in the Observation section. This is particularly alarming given that the report clearly notes that UNSMIL facilitated discussions with women have been “separate” from the main parties discussions in the formal political process.

International cooperation and coordination

The report notes that UNSMIL continues to coordinate international assistance in Libya, including the coordination of women’s empowerment. The report misses the opportunity to identify what kind of international support is being provided to women’s empowerment and how it is being coordinated on the ground. Citing specific projects and/or figures would provide a better understanding of the assistance as well as help to identify the gaps for women’s empowerment that still require international assistance.

Ideal Asks

With the security, human rights, and humanitarian situations continuing to deteriorate in Libya, reports must provide information on the violation of women’s human rights, including sexual and gender based violence, as well as UNSMIL’s progress on monitoring and protection of women’s human rights in eastern, western, and southern Libya. Given the number of actors in the conflict, gender analysis, which identifies specific actors, should also be provided for all regions. In addition, the report must advocate for participation of women at all levels of the political-process to broker ceasefires and institution-building.  It is critical that reports mainstream gender as a crosscutting issue, providing at a minimum, sex disaggregated data on civilian casualties, injuries, torture, beheadings, refugees, IDPs, and asylum seekers. Future reporting must include a comprehensive discussion of the violence against women in the public sphere, particularly human rights defenders and journalists, with a focus on access to justice for survivors and protection concerns for IDP and refugee women. Reporting should also systematically engage women’s civil society as consultants and participants in humanitarian, electoral, and security processes. Finally, the report should recognize the gender dimensions of extremism in Libya, particularly the gender implications of IS/Daesh and their established sharia courts. 


[1] S/2015/624 para. 23-30

[2] S/2015/624 para. 32

[3] S/2015/624 para. 35-37

[4] S/2015/624 para. 30, 33

[5] S/2015/624 para. 55

[6] S/2015/624 para. 57

[7] S/2015/624 para. 56

[8] S/2015/ 624 para. 5

[9] S/2015/624 para. 14

[10] S/2015/624 para. 5

[11] S/2015/624 para. 6,8, 9

[12] S/2015/624 para. 10

[13] S/2015/624 para. 11, 12

[14] S/2015/624 para. 16

[15] S/2015/624 para. 18

[16] S/2015/624 para. 22