At conference, UN envoy highlights importance of reconciliation process in Libya

Tarek Mitri.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Tarek Mitri.

At conference, UN envoy highlights importance of reconciliation process in Libya

Noting the desire for a national reconciliation process among Libya’s authorities and civil society, the top United Nations political envoy in the North African country today highlighted the importance of the process being carried out satisfactorily.

“Reconciliation is necessary for establishing security and launching human development in all its dimensions. It is a forward looking and long-term process. It is not just mediation, temporary fixes for conflicts, easing tensions or extinguishing some fires,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Tarek Mitri.

“This process, if managed well without haste or partisanship, can set the broad lines of a new social contract that would be the first cornerstone of the new constitution,” he added.

The UN envoy was addressing the start of a two-day conference, entitled ‘Truth and Reconciliation in Libya: the Way Forward,’ organized by the Fact-Finding and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Committee of the General National Congress (GNC), in partnership with UNSMIL and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The gathering has brought together Libyan officials and activists as well as experts from both Libya and abroad to discuss the relevance and challenges of truth-seeking, the role of victim groups as well as the legal and institutional framework required for truth-seeking. The conference is also looking at the role of the Commission and that of tribal leaders in reconciliation.

Libya has been undergoing a transition toward a modern democratic State, after decades of autocratic rule and toppling of the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi. The former leader ruled the North African country for more than 40 years until a pro-democracy uprising last year – similar to the protests in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa – led to civil war and the end of his regime.

Key steps in the transition have included the elections for the GNC, and that body’s election of a President and two Vice-Presidents, in accordance with the country’s Constitutional Declaration.

UNSMIL has been assisting the country’s transition process. Incidents of renewed fighting in various parts of the country are among the security challenges facing the North African nation, which also needs to prepare a new constitution, promote rule of law, protect human rights, and counter illicit arms proliferation.

In his remarks, Mr. Mitri stressed that seeking truth and justice and moving down the path of reconciliation is not a call for amnesty for past crimes and does not morally equate between the aggressor and the victim.

“Rather, it is a call for combating revenge and collective punishment tendencies that do not ensure the accountability of individuals for their acts, but punishes them for acts of others with whom they happen to share family, tribal, local or cultural ties and affiliations,” he said.