The Advocacy and Outreach Programme conducts advocacy by engaging with national, regional and international stakeholders to influence policies and ensure that they embody principles of human rights. Through these engagements, we strive to ensure that the concerns of grassroots stakeholders are represented during the decision making processes of domestic, regional and international institutions and actors and that Libyan civil society has access to these institutions and can influence them. We aim to be active, self reflective participants in the development of a Libya which embodies the values and principles of human rights, justice and the rule of law by supporting the development of a stronger civil society in Libya, engaged in a meaningful way.
At the international and regional levels, we advocate before institutions such as the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court. We inform key decision-makers of the human rights situation in Libya and shed light on issues that require particular attention through meetings and side events. At the national level, we encourage the state to develop effective policy decisions to implement Libya’s human rights commitments. We work to effect change to draft legislation dealing with human rights and accountability concerns by addressing weaknesses and gaps in Libyan law, while promoting compliance with international human rights standards. As such, the Advocacy and Outreach Programme corresponds with members of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) to encourage the improvement of human rights standards within the current draft constitution and the consideration of the concerns of all the Libyan public within their deliberations.
In complementarity with our advocacy work, we carry out outreach campaigns and activities aiming to involve grassroots actors in the legal and political decision making processes shaping Libyan society. Our outreach activities, including public service announcements (PSAs), podcasts, public consultations and events, seek to engage the public and civil society on key issues and to initiate an open dialogue with grassroots actors in an inclusive and accessible manner. Through these activities, we aim to build a deeper understanding and culture of human rights by raising public awareness of key issues currently affecting human rights in Libya and priorities that need to be addressed to facilitate the development of a Libya which embodies the values and principles of human rights, justice and the rule of law. In turn, the priority concerns voiced by Libyan stakeholders inform our advocacy efforts to influence political and decision making processes.
As well as undertaking its own advocacy, the Advocacy and Outreach Programme works with national NGOs to engage with international and regional human rights mechanisms and pursue joint advocacy targets. To that end, LFJL brought together the Coalition of Libyan Human Rights Organisations (the Coalition), a diverse network of Libyan civil society organisations from different geographical areas and working on a wide range of human rights issues.
Together we monitor, document and report on the human rights situation from the perspective of the Coalition organisations’ diverse expertise. We then develop joint strategies for outreach and advocacy through events, campaigns and engagement with human rights mechanisms based on the priority concerns of diverse groups of Libyan grassroots stakeholders. Through our long term, holistic support of the Coalition we intend to encourage, support and expand the engagement of Libyan civil society with human rights mechanisms and to strengthen the resilience of civil society in Libya.
The Coalition is progressively expanding and is now formed of 11 organisations that cover issues including:
The media have a massive impact in setting the tone in specific situations and have the potential to support democracy efforts and promote sustainable peace. Their coverage has direct consequences on how the public opinion perceives and understand a certain issue, both in a positive and negative sense. Very often, distortion of facts does not happen willingly, but because of the media agenda and the priorities of the news cycle. This often results in crucial aspects of a conflict, such as its impact on civilian lives and rights, being overlooked. This is particularly worrying when applied to a context like Libya, with an ongoing conflict, an inconsistent approach by international actors, a divided population and a polarised national media environment. LFJL decided to challenge this narrative and bring a human rights perspective to the table.
LIBYA MATTERS: A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON LIBYA
Hosted by Elham Saudi and Marwa Mohamed, LFJL's Head of Advocacy and Outreach, every week Libya Matters will focus on an overlooked and neglected aspect of the Libya story. In a casual conversation intended to bring a candid insight, guest experts explore issues of justice, human rights, the rule of law and much more. Libya Matters aims to challenge the mainstream coverage of Libya and focus on under-reported parts of the Libyan story.
LFJL’s UPRna initiative brought together and trained the Coalition members to engage with the UN human rights mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), marking the first engagement of Libyan civil society in Libya’s UPR. In doing so, the Coalition expressed human rights concerns in relation to their field of expertise and underlined shortcomings by Libya in implementing past UPR recommendations. The Coalition advocated for recommendations to be made by UN Member States to Libya during joint advocacy training and missions to Geneva, Switzerland, and made suggestions to overcome existing human rights challenges. As a result of these joint efforts, the majority of the recommendations submitted by UN
Member States and accepted during Libya’s UPR reflected concerns raised by the Coalition. Following the adoption of UPR recommendations, the Coalition has entered into the stage of monitoring the state’s compliance with, and implementation of, the recommendations it accepted, in order to engage in Libya’s next UPR. Alongside its engagement in Libya’s UPR, the Coalition encourages other civil society organisations to become involved in such efforts, and generates public awareness of Libya’s human rights obligations through creative and accessible media, such as PSAs and podcasts.
Our Destoori project aims to raise awareness of Libyans on the constitution making process, to gather public opinion, and to create a connection and sense of ownership between the Libyan people and their constitution. In order to realise the aspiration of a lasting constitution that defends and is in turn defended by all Libyans, we seek to foster engagement from the Libyan public in the constitutional draft to ensure that all stakeholders are represented in the process and invested in the outcome. Based on our outreach activities with the Libyan public, we advocate to national decision makers, including the CDA, by sharing our legal analysis of the constitutional draft to ensure that it protects human rights of all people in Libya and reflects their aspirations.
Under the Destoori project, we engage with grassroots stakeholders to encourage their participation in the drafting of Libya's law and constitution through awareness campaigns. Outreach initiatives include the Rehlat Watan ('Journey of a Nation') constitutional tour, during which the Destoori team travelled across Libya to engage with over 3,000 people from 37 different communities. Through interactive activities, Q&A sessions and surveys, we discussed sensitive issues with thousands of Libyans, including the constitutional process and the rights that they would like to see protected in their constitution. The findings from Rehlat Watan and the views and aspirations of the population formed the basis of LFJL’s Destoori Report and Recommendations, and informed our advocacy before the Constitutional Drafting Assembly. We seek to find accessible creative ways of involving diverse audiences in constitutional discussions, through interactive projects such as graffiti competitions, songwriting and educational videos.
In April 2018, we attended the 62nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to raise awareness of the issues of enforced disappearance and the dire situation of migrants in Libya. Participating in a side event entitled “Enforced Disappearances in Africa: the fight for truth and justice”, LFJL presented the current state of affairs in regards to enforced disappearances in Libya and made suggestions in relation to the role the ACHPR should play in assisting victims and their families in their search for the truth and justice. LFJL also met with key ACHPR Commissioners and advocated for the ACHPR to call upon the Libyan state to respect its international human rights obligations towards migrants. We highlighted the importance of promptly taking measures to end the situation of migrants of Libya, including by ending the practice of automatic detention of migrants and the culture of discrimination against them. Our full recommendations published ahead of the mission are available here.
In December 2017, LFJL attended the 16th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute (ASP). During this mission, LFJL pushed for stronger accountability for human rights violations and abuses in Libya, including those against migrants before states and representatives of the International Criminal Court (ICC) (read LFJL’s recommendations to the ASP here).
We held a side event entitled The Importance of Deterrence and the ICC’s Role in Current Violations during which, the panel addressed the crucial role that the ICC can play in the pursuit of deterrence and the current challenges to achieving justice in Libya. LFJL insisted on the need for the ICC to restore its relationship with the people on the ground in Libya, including civil society, as a priority. We further called on the ICC to investigate the crimes of trafficking and slavery in Libya and to adopt sanctions against the perpetrators of such crimes.
In September 2017, we attended the 36th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, along with members of the Coalition, to advocate for stronger human rights protections for migrants and IDPs in Libya. The Coalition held a side event entitled Fortress Europe: Threatening the Human Rights of Migrants which aimed to shed light on the role of the European Union and its member states’ migration policies in the human rights crisis facing migrants. Additionally, the Coalition took part in the Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s Oral Update on Libya to deliver two oral statements calling for the protection of the human rights of migrants and of freedom of expression.
The Research and Capacity Building Programme undertakes activities that aim to identify new opportunities for participation, to share our understanding of human rights issues and to address the knowledge deficit around Libya.
The Advocacy and Outreach Programme ensures that core human rights concerns of grassroots stakeholders are a key consideration during the decision making processes of domestic, regional and international institutions and actors.