The Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP) was launched in October 2011 by over thirty-five women from different cities and backgrounds to ensure that women remain a vital part of post-Gaddafi Libya, with a particular emphasis on inclusive transitions, women’s rights, youth leadership, advancement and security as related to women’s political and economic participation, constitutional reform, and education.
It has since grown to a network of over 100 organizations and people.
The LWPP has experience in constituency building and mobilization, and network facilitation and management, as well as successful advocacy and lobby activities in the fields of women’s political leadership and participation.
Milestones of the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace
In December 2011 the National Transitional Council drafted a controversial election law that was criticized for its exclusivist patriarchal tribal mind-set. The LWPP joined with other organizations to protest the election law. We also identified legal experts sensitive to gender matters and asked them to form an independent committee that would produce a more inclusive electoral law. To guarantee equal representation of women and men, the committee proposed an electoral law based on “zipper lists,” or political party election lists that alternate vertically and horizontally between male and female candidates. This initiative was adopted and was very successful. The turnout of women voters, candidates and winners was impressive. 624 women registered as candidates (of 3,700 total), 540 through political parties (encouraged by zipper lists) and 84 as independents. Sixty-two percent of Libyans (40 percent of them women) cast over 1.7 million ballots. Libyan women won 16.5 percent of the positions (thirty-three seats, of which thirty-two were acquired through party lists) in the first elected National Congress in fifty-two years.
The LWPP, in partnership with the international nongovernmental organization Karama & UN Women, organized in 2013 the Libyan Women’s Political Empowerment Program, which aimed to place gender equality and inclusive democracy on the agenda of the transition period in Libya. LWPP, Karama & UN Women worked with civil society groups on making electoral processes fair, redrafting the Constitutional Declaration, effecting community-level reconciliation, overseeing justice and security sector reforms, and ensuring gender-responsive policies. The program emphasized raising awareness of existing laws that protect women and the marginalized and developing a specialized response to gender-based violence.
From 2013 till the end of 2014, LWPP started with a series of roundtable events in order to discuss the inclusion of women’s rights in the constitution. During these meetings, activists, legal experts, judges, and scholars worked on prioritizing women’s rights, gender equality and social justice. In November 2014 LWPP organized, in partnership with the US Institute for Peace (USIP), a workshop with Libyan women civil society leaders, youth activists, judges, legal experts, scholars, members of the Constitutional Drafting Committee, religious leaders in the League of Libyan ʿUlama, and the Dean of Graduate Studies at Al-Azhar University. In the seminar partticipants looked at this topic from both the viewpoint of Islamic Law and from international laws and conventions, and searched for ways to reconcile these two important references. These efforts led to a Charter for Libyan Women’s Constitutional Rights. The goal was to prioritize women’s rights and concerns.
The LWPP also produced the Crisis Response Strategy to Achieve Stabilization in Libya. Libyans of diverse backgrounds formulated the strategy at a meeting on February 17–18, 2015, organized by LWPP in partnership with Women’s International League For Peace & Freedom (WILPF), on the fourth anniversary of the Libyan Revolution, in light of the failure of the international community and the absence of key stakeholders from United Nations–led peace talks. With terrorism threatening to engulf the country one city at a time and the humanitarian deterioration reaching frightening levels, LWPP holds that all parties to the conflict must fully recognize the need to put an end to political fragmentation. LWPP also believes that though there is a need for a political solution based on a national unity government, Libyans also need a coherent and comprehensive integrated strategy.
On Human Rights Day, December 11th, 2014, LWPP in partnership with Karama & Equality Now launched Justice for Salwa Is Justice For All campaign. Militias assassinated the women human rights activists and leaders Salwa Bugaighis and Fareha al Barqawi in June and July 2014, respectively, because they called for a peaceful transition of power. Two months later a young male activist, Tawfiq Bin Saud, a member of the LWPP-affiliated organization Bokra, and his friend Sami Al-Kawafi were assassinated in Benghazi. In Tripoli militias are publicly calling the opposition “traitors” and claiming that they will assassinate and persecute opposition members. According to activists monitoring the death toll from outside the country, at least thirty-five prominent civil society figures have been killed in 2015. Rebel militias have enforced their own systems of justice following the collapse of the judiciary during Libya’s 2011 revolution. While kidnapping is commonplace, armed gangs are assassinating civil activists as part of a greater violence campaign.
LWPP & partners expressed alarm regarding the conflict and war crimes in post revolution Libya, which challenge women’s meaningful exercise of their human rights, women’s engagement in the transition, and advancement of gender equality in the country. They held that most significant obstacle to women’s full human rights and political participation is the unchecked militarization and violent extremism plaguing Libya today. LWPP & partners also held the state and the international community accountable in the failure to enact arms control; disarm, demobilize, rehabilitate, and reintegrate militias; and combat the rampant impunity for violent crimes. LWPP & partners strongly believe that as long as this continues, women and men cannot exercise their human rights and reestablish the rule of law.
On the International Day of Human Rights 2015, LWPP released its documentary film Justice For Salwa Is Justice For All. The film was supported by Karama as part of the UN Women Gender Fund. The film was screened in Benghazi and several countries around the world. The Film argues that for the urgency to end impunity of warlords. The film also calls for the the protection of civil society members and human rights defenders to allow their safe participation in peace, reconciliation, and political processes.
From 2015 throughout 2016 LWPP with the support of Hivos, launched a program on Sustainable Peace. The program began with monitoring the UN led peace process, which included members of LWPP. After a close monitoring process, LWPP concluded through a policy paper that more than just a seize of fire and power sharing is needed in order to ensure a long-term, sustainable peace. In addition to important issues such as security arrangements, economic recovery and a broad reconciliation process, widespread impunity, the need for transitional justice, a clear proper plan of DDR must also be addressed. In a word, Libya needs to pursue an inclusive positive peace over exclusionary negative peace.
LWPP is still engaged in building a Vision of Sustainable Peace in Libya through a qualitative research on nation building and social capital which will be soon published.