Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (S/2016/182)

Thursday, February 25, 2016
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Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (S/2016/182)

Period of Time and Topic: Covering the period 13 August 2015 to February 2016, 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 

Pursuant to Security Council resolution 2238 (2015) and 2259 (2015), the Secretary-General report provides an update on the implementation of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). References to WPS issues stayed the same when compared to  the previous report (S/2015/144), both in terms of quantity  (nine references) and scope. Similarly to the previous report, there were not any WPS references in the “Observations” portion of the report, which is a critical section for shaping future developments of the mission. Reference to women continue to broadly focus on women’s protection concerns; however, for the first time in a report on the situation in Libya, there is a section entitled, “Women’s Empowerment,” which provides one reference on women’s participation. Unfortunately, there are several WPS issues highlighted in the mandate for which the report fails to provide sufficient information or analysis. The report does not offer any analysis on the gender dynamics of the conflict itself, and overall, despite positive new inclusions, the report is largely gender blind,  missing key opportunities to identify women’s participation concerns in Libya’s deteriorating security environment. 

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

The portion of the report reviewing the activities of UNSMIL in the area of security sector reform provides a narrative summary detailing the ways in which the mission engaged a variety of stakeholders at the international, regional and national levels to support the development of an implementation plan for security arrangements, including activities related to arms and munition management. 

The report does not provide any gender analysis of the impact of the flow and proliferation of small arms and light weapons on women, but there is one reference to activities carried out by the mission which aim to strengthen women’s participation in arms control efforts. The reference is to a pilot project being facilitated by the Mine Action Service which will promote gender-balance in arms control efforts. The project is intended build Libyan women’s capacity to raise awareness of the risks associated with these weapons and ammunition within their communities. 

While the report notes that the overall security situation in Libya continues to deteriorate, particularly as a result of the increasing activity by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh) , there are no references to women or women’s protection. Additionally, 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.  From the security evidence provided by this report, the situation of women is unknown. 

At a minimum, the report must 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 ISIL and its affiliates, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and independently operating military forces of the former regime. In addition, the report must provide sex disaggregated data on all conflict-related violence, including civilian casualties, injuries, beheadings, suicide bombs and displacements, cited within these three sections. 

Humanitarian Situation and Support

The report does not provide analysis of either the gender dimensions of the humanitarian situation, or the ways in which the humanitarian response, including emergency responses and contingency planning, are responding to gender-specific needs. The report does provide some basic sex-disaggregated data on the number of displaced persons during the reporting period that are women (290,000 women and children out of 435,000 total) and the number of persons intercepted and/or rescued by the Libyan coast guard (434 women out of 7,600 total). The provision of this data is positive, but there should be sex and age-disaggregated data provided for all statistical points, including information on asylum seekers, migrants, recipients of humanitarian assistance, and persons detained.

Human Rights

The report provides some information and analysis particular ways in which women’s rights are being violated does not provide a comprehensive gender analysis of the human rights situation, however, there is some analysis of restrictions for women and girls in areas held by ISIL, noting that there are restrictions imposed on their freedom of movement (women and girls must be accompanied by  male guardians) and  a dress code that includes a full-face veil is further being imposed. The report misses and opportunity to provide gender analysis in its discussion of other human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions and torture, as well as in the context of courts set up by ISIL 

UNSMIL is directly mandated to monitor the human rights situation in Libya. It is imperative that this monitoring include a full investigation into IS/Daesh activities, and provide sex disaggregated on violations whenever possible. 

In regard to groups in vulnerable situations, the report notes that migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees remain at risk of prolonged detention in substandard conditions, torture, violent attacks, forced labor, rapes and other forms of sexual and gender based violence as well as exploitation at the hands of members of armed groups, criminal gangs and members of security forces, including police. The report cites UNSMIL reports of two gang rapes of migrant women in Western Libya in November. The report further notes that human rights defenders continue to be at risk of violence and intimidation. To help combat this, UNSMIL convened a two-day meeting in August 2015, bringing together human rights defenders and civil society representatives, with the aim of enhancing their role in Libyan political dialogue and peace processes. The report misses an opportunity to provide any information on the outcome of this UNSMIL facilitated engagement and/or what concerns and recommendations were brought up by participants. In addition, the report misses an opportunity to frame this violence in the language of women’s protection and/or provide any information on what the mission is doing to monitor the situation. At a minimum, the report should provide information on specific information and/or reports of the number of listed abuses and violations, as well as sex disaggregated data whenever possible. 

Rule of Law 

The report notes that the General National Congress, based in Tripoli, amended provisions of the Personal Status Law (1984) relating to the rights of women. Although the changes are legally questionable given the status of the General National Congress, if implemented, the changes would restrict women’s human rights in the matters of divorce and polygamy as well as allow child marriage. The report misses an opportunity to provide any context to the Personal Status Law (1984) and the changes made to the law. In addition, the report failed to mention whether implementation has begun in Tripoli and surrounding areas. Similarly, the report notes that the General National Congress appointed 36 new judges to the Supreme Court. The report further misses an opportunity to provide information on the gender dimensions on such appoints and how the increase in numbers may affect women’s access to justice.  

The report also notes that court functions have been impeded and judicial sector employees continue to be the targets of violence.The report misses an opportunity to provide analysis on the impact of violence on women in judicial system and information and analysis on how violence 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 regard to the constitutional drafting process, the reports notes that a first draft of the constitution was published on 6 October 2015; however, the draft fell short of international law standards, and lacked provisions pertaining to women’s rights as well as adequate safeguards against arbitrary detentions, torture, and unfair trials.The report misses an opportunity to analyze how this draft if adopted as the constitution would impact women’s rights as well as specifically provide information (or state women are not mentioned) on women in the draft constitution. 

In addition, the report details mission support activities aimed at strengthening the participation of women in the political process. From 26 to 28 August 2015, UNSMIL facilitated a meeting of Libyan women from across the country in Tunis to provide recommendations for gender provisions to be included into the constitution. In November in Geneva, UNSMIL facilitated a meeting for Libyan women representatives to develop a peace agenda for Libya. And on 11 January, the SPecial Representative announced his support for a 30 percent women’s quota in the Government of national accord. In all three instances, the report misses an opportunity to provide information on the outcomes these engagements, how women’s recommendations and outcomes will feed into formal processes, and how engagements have fostered greater support for women’s participation. In addition, it is unclear how the Special Representatives enforcement of quotas was received by males politicians. Overall, the report misses an opportunity to provide an understanding of women’s participation in the political sector. At a minimum, future reports should outline the challenges currently facing women in the political sector. Most alarmingly, women are entirely absent on the discussion of the political dialogue process in Skhirat, Morocco.

International cooperation and coordination 

The report misses an opportunity to provide any information on UNSMIL coordination and cooperation of international assistance on any WPS related concerns and/or funding, despite the inclusion of this information in past reports ( S/2015/624). At a minimum, the report should call on donors to earmark funding to and increase cooperation on WPS related concerns in the Observation section of the report. 

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 a comprehensive discussion of sexual and gender based violence, as well as UNSMIL progress on monitoring women’s human rights in eastern, western, and southern Libya, particularly with regard to IS/Daesh activity. 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 as well as violations against these vulnerable groups. Future reporting must include a comprehensive discussion of the violence against women in the public sphere, particularly human rights defenders and civil society representatives, with a focus on access to protection and justice for survivors. Reporting should also systematically engage women’s civil society as consultants and participants in humanitarian, political, 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.