Makeup Post #6 UN Involvement in Libya

Kate Burke

The UN has been actively involved in Libya due to the widespread violence in the region. Following six months of armed conflict, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) was established in September of 2011 at the request of Libyan authorities. The aim of this mission is to support the Libyan political process, mediate conflicts, and protect human rights. (UNSMIL)

UNSMIL has an organization mandate that consists of four sections outlining the main goals of the mission. Section A states that the first priority is to ensure Libya’s transition into democracy. This is to be done while providing assistance in creating a single national dialogue, a Libyan electoral process, and a new constitution. This assignment also involves promoting political participation in all parts of Libyan society, especially women, youth, and minorities. Section B focuses on enforcing the law and protecting human rights by aiding the Libyan government in ensuring humane treatment and due process of detainees, reforming judiciary processes, and constructing accountable law enforcement and correctional facilities. Section C aims to control unsecured arms in Libya and ensure their safe management or disposal, strengthen border security, support facilitation and coordination of international assistance, and develop effective national security. Section D, the fourth and final section, seeks to build the capacity of the government by providing support to the cooperation between national legislature and local government, as well as the UN itself. (UNSMIL)

Clearly, the UN set its sights pretty high when creating these mandates. It seems like it has been hard to accomplish all these things, since this mandate was established in March of 2014 and the country is still battling political instability and violence. However, the UNSMIL did do a good job of outlining a wide range of the most important issues in Libya. I found it important to include these mandates because they detail the exact concerns that are currently troubling Libya. Although the UNSMIL may not have eradicated all of these problems from the country, they have formed a solid plan and taken action to generate political and societal change in Libya.

In addition to UNSMIL, there are fifteen other UN specialized agencies, funds, and programs operating in Libya. These include some well-known organizations such as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Orgnization (WHO), and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There is also a UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Tripoli and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has a representation in the Libyan Capital.  (UNSMIL)

With the heavy amount of involvement in Libya and the Middle East, the UN has a lot of influence in the region. Especially with the recent development and presence of ISIS in the area, the UN has been taking action. UNSMIL met in February of 2015 to form a plan on resolving the political crisis in Libya, and the UNSMIL mandate was renewed in late March with intentions to mediate the Libyan political process. (UN News Centre)

UNSMIL Meeting in February to Discuss Crisis in Libya

UNSMIL Meeting in February to Discuss Crisis in Libya

Photo Source: UN News Centre

From what I could find, I did not see any direct involvement with the US and the UN in Libya. However, with the wide range of UN programs contributing to the region, it is probable that the US has significant influence when working with these organizations. Further, as of January 2013, UNSMIL was made up of 205 national and international members, some of which are surely American. (UNSMIL)

Much of the mandate focused on addressing human rights issues. In a country with almost no working government, these sorts of problems are commonplace. I have discussed the range of human rights violations in previous blogs, but some of the most important include violence, gender inequality, and human trafficking. Due to militia groups and ISIS, there are frequent attacks against civilians including shootings, bombings, and airstrikes. Many Libyans are also living in terrible conditions where they struggle with poverty, water shortages, and electricity blackouts. On top of all this, there are still even more issues for women in Libya, who often deal with restrictions on their most basic human rights. Human sex and labor trafficking is also common for migrant travelers in Libya. Human rights violations are one of the most pressing and widespread issues in Libya currently, and these issues desperately need to be addressed by the Libyan government with the help of the UN. (Human Rights Watch)

Farish Noor speaks of moving past Eurocentrism, in his excerpt of Dealing with Human Rights. Ethnocentrism, or Eurocentrism, is “the tendency of individuals and cultures to view themselves as well as the environment around them from the perspective of their own culture, values, and beliefs” (Noor, 51). He also claims Eurocentrism to “entail a favorable evaluation of one’s own culture while perceiving any differences from this norm as inferior” (Noor, 51). Noor believes that Eurocentrism is at the core of many Western countries’ attitudes, and it is reflected in their actions regarding the rest of the world. He disagrees with how “Western governments and elites have tried to impose their own ethnocentric/Eurocentric values and beliefs on other communities and cultures” (Noor, 52). This makes them feel threatened and move more towards maintaining their culturally-specific values, instead of adopting the Eurocentric beliefs. Noor argues that the US and other Western countries need to neglect their urge for pushing Eurocentric views and instead focus on understanding and appreciating other cultures’ values. He believes that only then will we be able to establish a global standard for human rights. I think this is relevant to the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, and that the elimination of Eurocentrocism would benefit the reformation of Libya’s government.

Sources: Meijer, Martha, and Farish Noor. Dealing with Human Rights: Asian and Western Views on the Value of Human Rights. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian, 2001. Print.

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