Libyan Activists Issue Recommendations on the Constitutional Drafting Process

Posted on: September 12, 2012, by :

From August 30 to September 1 2012, Karama and the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP) convened a group of 37 Libyan activists, as well as two members of the General National Congress, in Tripoli to develop women’s and youth strategies for influencing the Libyan constitutional drafting process. 

After intense discussion and debate, the participants agreed on a series of formal recommendations [click here to read] for Libya’s congress that, if enacted, would preserve the independence of the constitutional drafting committee from the General National Congress, ensure the input of legal experts, civil society, diverse segments of the population; and ensure that at least 30% of the constitutional committee be comprised of women.

Libyan legal experts, Azza Maghur, Salah Marghani and Hadi Buhamra let the two-day session, which also touched on the implications of having Islamic sharia as a source of law and the best ways to lobby the constitutional committee under various scenarios.

“Civil society groups, and all political actors in Libya must realize that the constitutional drafting process is the single most important thing that will take place during Libya’s transitional period,” said Dr. Hadi Buhamra, a Libyan legal expert who led part of the workshop. “Thus this issue of who is chosen to be on the constitutional drafting committee will impact the course of Libya for years to come.” 

“I was very pleased to participate in this session on the constitution and women’s rights in creating a new constitution for Libya,” said Mohammed Hamadi, a youth activist from Sabha, a city in Libya’s southwest. “During the session I met with some brilliant Libyan legal experts and women’s activists, who gave me a positive impression about the constitution and the future of Libya.”

The participants also launched a campaign called “Hay’a Sah” (“The Right Committee”) to lobby the General National Congress for selecting a diverse and independent constitutional committee. This campaign builds on our previous initiative starting in March to oppose the amendment by the NTC of Article 30 of the Constitutional Declaration that would marginalize the voices of women and civil society.

The session comes at a critical time when the modality for selecting the Constitutional Drafting Committee has not yet been determined. Just before the elections, the National Transitional Council (NTC) stripped the General National Congress of its powers over the constitutional process. Rather than being appointed by the new congress, the constitutional commission actually drafting the charter will now be directly elected in a second round of polls that give equal representation to various regions of the country. This decision has proved to be highly controversial, and it is anticipated that it could be repealed or challenged. 

“Libyans are lucky to be able to benefit from the experiences in Egypt and Tunisia — to see what worked and what didn’t, and it is crucial to do this workshop so that civil society can be prepared, trained, and ready to make their own transformation and to think ahead about the rights of women, and all Libyans,” said Hibaaq Osman of Karama. “This is part of an ongoing series of 11 consultations and workshops in Libya and we are extremely grateful to UN Women for supporting this initiative, without whose courage and vision of inclusivity this would not have been possible.”

The Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace was formed in May 2011 to serve as a coordinating body for female and youth civil society leaders throughout Libya. It convenes trainings, organizes advocacy activities, and serves as an information clearing house for women’s activists and their allies throughout Libya. It comprises members from all regions of Libya, as well as nationals and members of the diaspora. Visit the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace on the web or on Facebook.

For more information or to schedule an interview please contact Zahra’ Langhi at