Libya: Conflict and Human Rights in the Time of a Pandemic – a symposium

May 4, 2020

Today, Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL), in partnership with openDemocracy, is publishing a series of opinion pieces that aims to look at Libya’s response to the pandemic within the ongoing conflict, through a human rights lens.

While the impact of the pandemic is felt globally, countries in an ongoing conflict face unique challenges in dealing with its consequences. In Libya, as the fighting continues to escalate, people are dealing with the compounding effects of COVID-19. The country’s health care system has been weakened from years of conflict and neglect and repeated calls for a ceasefire have been ignored by the parties to the conflict. What implications does this have on human rights during this pandemic, especially for some of the most vulnerable groups, and what does it do to a justice sector and civil society?  

Throughout the series, five key experts will reflect on different aspects of the pandemic and conflict in Libya, examining the situation through a human rights lens but each from a unique vantage point. The series also delve into the role of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in addressing pressing concerns, and will analyse minimum standards, obligations and responsibilities of different actors.

Contributors include Asma Khalifa, Research Fellow and PhD candidate at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies and Tarek Megerisi, Policy Fellow at European Council on Foreign Relations, both members of  LFJL’s Advisory Board, as well as Marwa Mohamed, LFJL’s Head of Advocacy and Outreach, Hanan Salah, Senior Libya Researcher at Human Rights Watch, and Kate Vigneswaran, Senior Legal Adviser at ICJ.

“Insecurity and political fragmentation, combined with a weakened health care system, create unique challenges when addressing COVID-19 in Libya. Nonetheless, the protection of human life and upholding human rights in line with international legal obligations must remain a primary concern” said Marwa Mohamed.

The opinion pieces will be published on openDemocracy every Monday and Thursday, starting today and with the final piece on 18 May. A symposium to discuss the articles will take place on 21 May at 13.00 BST. It will bring together the authors for a chance to unravel the topics discussed and open up the conversation, and raise the pressing questions around human rights and conflict during the unprecedented times of COVID-19.

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