For Peace in Libya, municipalities are an indispensable partner
Supporting the role of municipalities, civil society organisations and citizens in building peace at local level was both the title and the objective of the Libya International Peace Forum that took place in Tunis on 6 and 7 September. With mayors or representatives from eleven municipal councils attending, plus numerous local Libyan civil society activists, there was considerable belief on their part that, with the country’s political leaders unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to make peace happen, local communities had to try to make it happen. In the words of the mayor of Janzour:
“Only the Libyan people can build peace. We shouldn’t wait for peace to come from abroad, we must do it ourselves, and municipalities will play a role of paramount importance.”
Around 120 participants, formed by national and international stakeholders involved in municipal peacebuilding efforts in Libya, came together to highlight achievements, identify challenges and discuss their ideas to further support Libyan local governance on peace processes. The Forum consisted of plenary sessions and workshop sessions, concerning topics as supporting the role of women and young people in community peace-building efforts at the local level, donor engagement, and dealing with militias and armed actors in building peace at the national level.
The Libya International Peace Forum succeeded in providing a platform where local government are recognised as vital partners to sustainable peace in Libya. During the frank discussions, it was very clear that much is expected of mayors and their municipalities and they are committed to take on this responsibility, though they are faced with limitations in the mandate to respond adequately to such requests. Nevertheless, the confidence in their capabilities is rightfully acknowledged, among others by EU Ambassador Bettina Muscheidt:
“The municipalities and civil society are an example to all of Libya and to political leaders that you are the best Libya can bring to the table when showing what peace in Libya will look like.”
The Libya International Peace Forum was organised by VNG International and the Centre for Innovative Local Governance (CILG) in partnership with PATRIR in the framework of the Libya Local Governance and Stabilization Project funded by the EU and co-funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
See pictures of the Forum on the Facebook page of CILG-VNG.