I have since 2015 been working with a group of local community activists, the Peacemakers, to facilitate social dialogue for peace and reconciliation. The Peacemakers’ initiative was born out of the understanding that any political agreement could not bring about positive and sustainable results without wider, grass-roots participation in any political agreement could not bring about positive and sustainable results without wider, grass-roots participation in dialogue. The initiative aimed to complement the UN’s work and sought to put an end to local conflicts and to promote reconciliation at the national level. From 2015 to mid-2016, the main focus of the dialogue was on local crisis and conflict resolution. Since mid-2016, the primary focus has been supporting broader reconciliation and dialogue around the idea of a new social contract.
The first phase of the project (2015-2016) responded to the need of different communities to restore dialogue and to put an end to local armed confrontations that were having a signifiant effect on people’s daily lives. Of the four large dialogue meetings, three focused on specific regional issues in the Nafusa mountains, the south and the central region.The Peacemakers worked with elders and notables to mediate between different communities, helping them to design mechanisms to put and end to local conflicts and to respond to specific issues such as the increased presence of transnational terrorist groups. The team also conducted outreach activities to connect with Libyans displaced abroad, particularly in Tunisia and Egypt.
The current phase of the project (2016- ) aims to build broad consensus through an inclusive, grass-roots dialogue process around common rules and values that can form the basis of a new social contract. It seeks specifically to build consensus around three key issues: the organisation of political life; local governance and economic resources; and people’s rights and freedoms. It goes beyond the constitution drafting process. It aims to prepare the ground for longer-term national reconciliation and to create a basis upon which political and legal solutions to the conflict can be built. It is designed to complement ongoing international efforts towards a political solution to the crisis.
I developed the initial partnership between the Peacemakers, the EUI-MEDirections and the Norwegian Center for Conflict Resolution (NOREF), which supported the first phase of the project. Since February 2017, the initiative has been funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.