Libya Experts Forum Pledges Support for GNA, Discusses Immediate Stabilization Needs, Policy Options
Tunis, 18 December 2015 – The Libya Experts Development Cooperation Forum – an assembly of Libyan academics, prominent experts and entrepreneurs – pledged support for the Government of National Accord (GNA) and developed a series of recommendations for both short-term priorities and longer-term peacebuilding and state-building in the country that could assist the GNA in formulating policies once it takes up the task of restoring stability and prosperity to Libya.
The two-day meeting was dominated by discussions on the technical aspects. But it also touched on politica as it coincided with the breakthrough signing of the Libyan Political Agreement on 17 December 2015 in Skhirat, Morocco, that will lead to the formation of the GNA in the coming weeks.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya Martin Kobler joined the Forum’s closing session on 18 December, briefing the participants on the signing of the agreement and on the way forward regarding the formation of the GNA. The Forum welcomed the signing of
the agreement and pledged to support the GNA in tackling the economic and social development challenges.
The Forum convenes for the second time since its inception in October 2015. Participants at the 17-18 December meeting engaged in in-depth discussions on topics relevant to the current situation of Libya’s national institutions, economy and society in general. Issues of urgent humanitarian assistance, macroeconomic and fiscal reform, restructuring of institutions, public financial policy and management were debated in detail. Basic services, government functions, public administration reform and ways of combatting corruption were also a focus of the Forum’s attention.
Participants debated policies and approaches to macroeconomic reform and restructuring, while gauging the impacts of the conflict on basic services in Libya, with health and education highlighted. Recommendations were anticipatory and forward-looking: how to tackle corruption, how to strengthen the capacity of local and national government and how to approach both humanitarian and developmental support efforts.
Following the recent launch of the 2016 Libya Humanitarian Response Plan, the Forum also discussed both policy options and funding strategies aimed at improving the response. A presentation by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) highlighted some of the realities of the legacy of conflict. The coordination of international assistance, a crucial component once the Government of National Accord is operational, was also presented, generating insightful feedback from participants.
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Ali Al-Za’tari, emphasized the importance of an institutionalized Forum and the impartial and measured advice it can provide to both the international community and the future Government.
“The Forum needs to accurately diagnose Libya’s structural problems and propose valid solutions that can be reviewed by the Government of National Accord”, he said in opening remarks. “We intend in future sessions to go deep into sectors, together with the Libyan authorities and international partners. As we are still curtailed in our coverage of cooperation being outside the country, we hope that the signed Political Agreement will lead to an enabling security situation allowing us to go back to Libya”.
Libyan participants highlighted the significance of the Forum for Libyan economic recovery.
“It is an opportunity that Libya must not miss”, said Ms. Azza Maghur. “Our society needs appropriate institutional framework, better education and employment opportunities for younger generations, to support a longer term socio-economic transformation of the country”, the lawyer added.
Mr. Sulaiman Abusrewil said the discussions provided a comprehensive assessment of the economic and social challenges facing Libya. “The Government of National Accord must strike the right balance between addressing the immediate priorities and the long term vision that incorporates reconstruction and development actions”, the doctor said.
Lawyer Abdel Rahman Habil believes the Forum could play a major role in bringing together the Libyan social actors. “A non-conventional approach to macro-economic restructuring should be developed with the involvement of all Libyan social actors”, he said.
A feature introduced in the format of this forum was an Intergenerational Dialogue which looked at policy options for post-conflict Libya and helped defining the Forum’s priorities for the coming year. Young Panelist Abdul Rahman Al Ageli described it as “a much needed practical discussion among men and women from across Libya – both younger participants and more seasoned professionals – bringing a range of ideas to the table, encompassing generational- and sector-specific points of view”.
The Forum’s sessions are facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Participants agreed to reconvene the Forum on a quarterly basis next year, with the third session to take pace in March 2016.