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Updated: May 2, 2023

The information below on relevant human rights dimensions is provided ahead of a briefing and consultations on the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) in the Security Council on Tuesday, 18 April 2023. The NGO Security Council Report provides an overview of the political situation, in particular with regard to the December 2021 elections which never took place.

Key topics below

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  1. Human Rights Council failed to extend the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission (4 April 2023).

  2. The Fact-Finding Mission presented its final report, documenting continuing widespread human rights violations, including crimes against humanity (31 March 2023).

  3. UN Women and UNICEF shared observations on the situation (31 March 2023).

  4. The Working Group on IHL and human rights of the Berlin International Follow-Up Committee on Libya (IFCL) presented its key principles and recommendations (18 March 2023).

  1. Briefing by Head of UNSMIL (27 February 2023) and Secretary-General's report (9 December 2022).

  2. Recommendations of the NGO Working Group on WPS (April 2023).

  1. Human Rights Council dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission (31 March 2023): France, Switzerland and the UK.

  2. Security Council meeting on Libya (27 February 2023): Switzerland, the UAE, Albania, the A3, Ecuador, Malta and the US.

  1. Presidential Statement S/PRST/2023/2 (16 March 2023).

  2. Press statement (20 December 2022).

  3. Security Council resolution 2656 (28 October 2022).


** Update (2 May): UNSMIL briefing in April 2023 ** [98 words]

On 18 April 2023, the Head of UNSMIL, Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily, briefed the Security Council. He noted that the human rights situation continued to be tense. During the reporting period, the civic space has been further restricted and operations of civil-society organizations have been deemed illegal. He urged the Libyan authorities to live up to their human rights obligations, end impunity and provide more space for the work of civil-society organizations. He also noted with disappointment that the 6+6 committee of the House of Representatives and High State Council preparing the electoral laws did not include any women.

Relevant information for the Security Council to consider [791 words]

  1. On 4 April 2023, the Human Rights Council concluded its 52nd session, failing to extend the mandate of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya (FFM), which was established in 2020. Human rights NGOs strongly criticized this while crimes against humanity are being perpetrated, with no sign of abating. Indeed, the FFM recommended further investigations. The adoption of a capacity-building resolution, with no ongoing monitoring and investigative component, was shameful, the NGOs said. Human Rights Watch scorned the EU for supporting the resolution, noting that the EU-backed Libyan Coast Guards were among main culprits committing crimes against migrants. The EU stated that it continually assesses its own methods and will continue constructive engagement with all relevant international actors with the objective of ensuring protection of human rights, including in the context of migration management. By the said resolution, led by the African Group (joined by Iceland, Italy, Malta, Türkiye and Yemen), the Human Rights Council requested OHCHR to report to it and provide technical assistance, including to strengthen the national transitional justice institutions and the judiciary's capacity to investigate and prosecute human rights violations and improve accountability [OP1(b) and OP2]. The resolution was adopted without a vote.

  2. On 31 March 2023, the Human Rights Council held a dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM). The Mission's final report notes it has found reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity were committed against Libyans and migrants throughout Libya in the context of deprivation of liberty. Notably, the Mission documented and made findings on numerous cases of, inter alia, arbitrary detention, murder, torture, rape, enslavement, sexual slavery, extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance, confirming their widespread practice in Libya. The FFM offered many recommendations, including to increase resources and other support to UNSMIL to promote and protect human rights pursuant to Security Council resolution 2542 (2020). Among its recommendations, it also called to restructure the State security sector and subject it to an independent civilian oversight mechanism; cease military trials of civilians and halt implementation of judgements; end the criminalization of irregular entry and stay of migrants in Libya; dismantle secret prisons and end arbitrary detentions; facilitate UN access to all parts of Libya and places of detention, including by special procedures mandate holders; abolish undue restrictions on civil society organizations; and realize victims' and survivors' rights to truth, justice and reparations [A/HRC/52/83 AEV, pages 17-19]. The FFM also released a detailed conference room paper, which established Libyan State responsibility for crimes against humanity in Mitiga (by the Radaa armed group, synonymous with DACOT); Libyan State responsibility for crimes against humanity in prisons in the east (by ISA and LAAF); and Libyan State responsibility for crimes against humanity committed against migrants (by the Department for Combatting Illegal Migration, or DCIM). Many crimes were detailed in this document [A/HRC/52/CRP.8, paras 175-220]. In its presentation, the FFM noted an increase in domestic violence in the context of the availability of weapons, the exacerbation of SGBV in Libya because of a combination of pervasive patriarchal norms and gender inequality, as well as the use of SGBV to force confessions, punish, terrify and silence journalists, activists, detainees, migrants and women. The FFM further noted its documentation of the arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and attempted killing of several judges and prosecutors. In some cases, judges were replaced to fix an outcome, and sentences adapted to serve certain interests.

  3. During the same Human Rights Council meeting, UN Women noted that despite continuous efforts, there was still no comprehensive legislation on combating violence against women, nor a national strategy for women. UN Women regretted that pledges for greater women’s participation have been revoked, and women and youth remained underrepresented in the latest processes related to elections, national reconciliation and economic recovery. UNICEF was particularly concerned with the increased number of children verified as killed or maimed as a result of the armed clashes of August 2022, which represented a 63% increase compared to 2021, including due to landmines and explosive remnants of war.

  4. On 18 March 2023, the Working Group on IHL and human rights of the International Follow-Up Committee on Libya (IFCL) of the Berlin Process presented to Libyan authorities its key principles and recommendations on human rights, following a serious of dialogues: > Human rights are a solution to solving the challenges in Libya. > Widespread impunity and lack of accountability must be addressed. > Security sector reform is crucial. > Access to fundamental rights and basic services should be ensured. > Freedom of expression, opinion, and association must be protected and promoted. > Libyans' political rights must be respected. > Widespread violence against women and girls must end. > Consensus for everyone's enjoyment of human rights without discrimination should be fostered, based on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.


Information previously considered by the Security Council [604 words]

UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)

  • On 27 February 2023, Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of UNSMIL briefed the Security Council. He announced his plan to establish an inclusive high-level steering panel for Libya to organize presidential and legislative elections in 2023. He stated that reconciliation is a long-term process that should be inclusive, victim-centered, rights-based and grounded in transitional justice principles. He reiterated the urgent need to establish an inclusive Libyan-led mechanism which would agree on the prioritization of expenditures and the equitable distribution of resources, in line with resolution 2656(2022). He also called to address the continued lack of basic services and the absence of accountability. Expressing concern about a closing space for civil society, Mr. Bathily reiterated his calls on the Libyan authorities to end their crackdown on civil society, protect and promote the civic space and cease interfering in the work of civil society organizations. It has been over a year since four civil society actors were arbitrarily arrested and detained, and later sentenced for three years in prison. He was alarmed by the wave of arrests of women human rights defenders accused of offending Libya’s traditions, following the activation of the anti-cybercrime law on 17 February. He called for women's meaningful representation in all political and reconciliation processes. On a positive note, he welcomed the submission of a draft law on combating violence against women to the House of Representatives on 6 February.

  • In addition to the above, the Secretary-General’s report of 9 December 2022 (S/2022/932) expressed grave concern about the situation of migrants and refugees. The SG condemned the brutal killing of at least 15 migrants and asylum-seekers in Sabratah on 7 October and called for accountability. In addition, migrants and refugees continued to be arbitrarily detained in inhumane and degrading conditions in both official and unofficial centers managed by State and non-State actors [para 99]. The SG detailed many human rights concerns (as well as some positive developments), including hate speech and incitement to violence by Libyan security agencies and affiliated armed groups targeting civil society; indiscriminate shelling and use of heavy weaponry in densely populated areas in Tripoli in August 2022, hitting also health facilities; denial of the right of due process and fair trial; enforced disappearance; sexual violence against women prisoners, inhuman conditions, lack of due process and a reported violent suppression of a strike; limited and delayed access to justice; and an increase in the number of violations against children [paras 47-75 and 98-101].

Women, peace and security

  • The NGO Working Group on WPS recommends (April 2023) that Council members call for the protection and promotion of the full spectrum of women’s human rights and the full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership of diverse women, including young women, displaced women, Indigenous women and women with disabilities, in formal, substantive and specific roles at every level of the peace process and in provincial councils at the local level, including through adoption of a 30% quota. It also recommends to inquire about UNSMIL’s efforts in this regard. It further urges Council members to call upon the interim Government to integrate the recommendations by Libyan women who participated in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF). The NGO Working Group also encourages Council members to financially and politically support the establishment of a strong, independent follow-up accountability mechanism to continue documenting and reporting on the human rights and impunity crisis in Libya and monitoring the implementation of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya’s recommendations, separate from the day-to-day monitoring and reporting carried out by the human rights component of UNSMIL.


Comments by Members of the Security Council [424 words]

  1. On 31 March 2023, the Human Rights Council held a dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission. France, Switzerland and the UK expressed concern about the legal opinion of the Superior Council of the Judiciary considering the registration of most NGOs illegal. They called on the Libyan authorities to lift all restrictions.

  2. On 27 February 2023, the Security Council held a meeting on Libya. Switzerland expressed concern about the acts of violence committed against women participating in public life and political processes. It expressed its concern about the restrictions that have been imposed on civil society, including bureaucratic restrictions. Switzerland was particularly concerned about the reports of arrests carried out under the new cybercrime law, against the backdrop of a shrinking civil society space. The UAE stressed the importance of involving women and youth in the political process and ensure the protection of women and girls from violence, including online. It also called for more steps to improve the programme of disclosure, transparency and governance, inter alia to ensure the equitable distribution of resources. Albania stated: "It is our duty to support Libyans in their aspirations and expectations for a future in security, with national reconciliation and respect for human rights, prosperity and democracy." It was deeply worried about the systematic human rights violations in Libya and the continued reduction of civic space. It further called for justice and redress for victims, addressing impunity and strengthening accountability, as well as promoting the inclusion of women and youth. The A3 (Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique) called for an inclusive attitude to security-sector reform and the DDR efforts in Libya by taking a regional approach. They were deeply concerned about the situation of internally displaced persons, asylum-seekers, migrants and refugees and urgently called for them to be treated with dignity and for investigations and accountability to follow. Similarly, the US was appalled by the inhumane treatment of migrants detained in official and unofficial detention centers. It called for respect for the human rights of migrants. France echoed the concerns, including with regard to trafficking in persons. Ecuador shared concerns about civic space, migrants and refugees, as well as violence against women. It called for justice and the Government's cooperation with the ICC. Malta emphasized the importance of an inclusive political process that allows for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, civil society organizations and young people. Council members' recurring concern was the need to respect Libya's call for the departure of foreign fighters. The US stated that the Wagner Group mercenaries were particularly problematic and must withdraw.


References in Security Council outcomes (not verbatim) [660 words]

  1. On 16 March 2023, the Security Council released a Presidential Statement S/PRST/2023/2, including references to the integrity of elections, civil society, women, children and youth, transitional justice, accountability, migrants and refugees, as well as respect for human rights: The Security Council emphasized the importance of a participatory and representative process that includes representatives of political institutions and political figures, tribal leaders, civil society organisations, security actors, youth, and the full, equal and meaningful participation of women. The Security Council urged all stakeholders to uphold [their previous] guarantees concerning the independence and integrity of the inclusive electoral process, and election results. The Security Council further emphasized the importance of providing a safe environment for civil society organizations to work freely and to protect them from threats and reprisals. The Security Council underlined the importance of an inclusive reconciliation process based on the principles of transitional justice and accountability. The Security Council reiterated that the political process should be accompanied by full respect for human rights law and international humanitarian law. The Security Council reiterated its grave concern about the smuggling of migrants and refugees and human trafficking through Libya, and at the situation faced by migrants and refugees, including children, in Libya. The Security Council recalled the need to support further efforts to strengthen Libyan border management. The Security Council called on Libyan authorities to respect and protect the human rights of migrants, and to take steps towards the closing of migrant detention centers.

  2. On 20 December 2022, the Security Council released a press statement. In addition to to elements included in the later Presidential Statement noted above, the Security Council called for the full, equal, effective and meaningful participation of women at all levels, including in leadership positions, and in all activities and decision-making relating to political transition, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and the inclusion of youth and civil society representation.

  3. On 28 October 2022, the Security Council adopted resolution 2656, extending UNSMIL's mandate until 31 October 2023. This mandate included monitoring and reporting abuses and violations of human rights and violations of IHL, including sexual violence in conflict, notably through the effective deployment of women and child protection advisers. It also called for a strong gender perspective, ensuring women's participation and leadership, as well as women's and girls' protection [2542(2020), OP1(ix) and OP8]. Further to this, the latest Council resolution called for the inclusion of youth and civil society representatives, in all activities and decision-making relating to democratic transition and reconciliation efforts [2656(2022), OP6]. The Council expressed concern about civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure [PP3]. It strongly condemned the indiscriminate use of weapons in populated areas and their consequences and called upon all parties to refrain from such practices [PP4]. It called on Libyan authorities to achieve progress on security sector reform and the establishment of an inclusive, unified, accountable, civilian-led security architecture [PP7]. The Council also called for women's participation and leadership and creating a safe space for civil society [PP8]. It urged all parties to implement the relevant resolutions on WPS and prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence. It further called on the Libyan authorities to end impunity for SGBV crimes [PP14]. The Council recalled that Libya’s oil resources are for the benefit of all Libyans [PP9]. It expressed concern about the situation of internally displaced persons and grave concern about the smuggling of migrants and refugees and human trafficking through Libya, and at the situation faced by migrants, and refugees, including arbitrary detention, ill treatment, and their exposure to sexual and gender-based violence [PP12]. It called on the Libyan authorities to take steps towards the closing of migrant detention centers. It emphasized the need for accountability [PP13]. The Council recalled the importance of the protection of children and urged all parties to immediately end and prevent violations and abuses, in particular those involving the killing and maiming of children, the abductions of children, sexual violence, and the recruitment or use of children [PP15].


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