Rushed elections risks exacerbating instability in Libya – say former UN special envoys
“State institutions will not materialise on the cue of ballot papers falling into boxes” – says the International Centre for Dialogue Initiatives.
As Libya heads towards a what is likely to be a dysfunctional election, the International Centre for Dialogue Initiatives (ICDI) – a new think-tank established by former United Nations Special Envoys – has warned the elections may not bring peace or stability to the country.
With patent flaws and potential perils for the forthcoming election, ICDI makes a series of recommendations, including that:
- – The international community should refrain from pressuring Libyans to hold the election at any cost
- – Elections do not by themselves deliver stability; rather they first require stability to be free, fair, and transparent
- – When key election criteria – from the offices to be elected to the specifications for confirming candidates – have not been agreed by all significant parties this, may inexorably lead to them being disputed, post-ballot; even more so when all those parties are armed
- – Having pushed Libya into elections, the international community must provide adequate support to prevent relapse into violence.
These recommendations build upon those delivered in an interim report in June entitled “Libya: The dilemmas and challenges of the upcoming elections – part of a series of Libyan Dialogues which bring together Libyan academics, legal and political experts.
Commenting on the report, Chair of the ICDI and former UN under Secretary General and special envoy Jamal Benomar said:
“Elections are no panacea for post-conflict states. State institutions will not materialise on the cue of ballot papers falling into boxes. In fact, a rushed election risks entrenching conflict if the vote delivered is not free, fair, and credible – and is perceived as such by the Libyans.
Member of the ICDI advisory board and former UN Special Representative of the Secretary General to Libya Dr Tarek Mitri added:
“How can you win the argument in a democratic election when guns are loaded to the hilt on both sides? The international community must redouble efforts to ensure that foreign forces and mercenaries withdraw. Without a unified and neutral military force, the electoral competition may exacerbate divisions.”
Notes to Editors
International Centre for Dialogue Initiatives is the first independent platform in the MENA region that is dedicated to mediation, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and promoting dialogue. It was created by veterans of UN mediation with deep roots in the region to serve as a forum for generating, analyzing and testing home-grown ideas that could enable key parties in conflicts to reach a negotiated settlement. ICDI works with well-respected experts in the region and the world to support Track One and Track Two diplomatic initiatives including processes facilitated by the UN.
Dr. Jamal Benomar (Chair) is widely known as a pro-democracy activist, human rights defender, diplomat, and international mediator. His international career spans across 35 years, including 25 years at the United Nations, where he rose to the rank of Under-Secretary General in recognition of his achievements. He served as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, where he worked tirelessly to facilitate a peaceful democratic transition in the wake of the Arab Spring. He was the United Nations mediator in the negotiations between former Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh and the opposition, as well as the architect of the Transition Agreement in November 2011, which provided for a peaceful transfer of power and a road map for an inclusive transition process.
Dr. Tarek Mitri is former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Libya. He is currently the President of St. George University of Beirut. Dr Mitri held several ministerial positions in the Lebanese Government: Minister of Culture, Minister of Information, Minister of Environment and Administrative Development, and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was Director of Issam Fares Institute on Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. He chairs the Board of Nicolas Sursock Museum in Beirut and the Institute of Palestine Studies. Dr Mitri is a member of the Strategic Council at Saint Joseph’s University and the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.