Last spring, when countries around the world had gone into lockdown due to the pandemic, the Clingendael Academy organised its first fully online training course in negotiation skills for the Libyan Women’s Network for Peacebuilding, in collaboration with UN Women. The Clingendael trainers and participants met each other from home on Zoom with battles going on outside in Libya.
Now, almost one year later, Libya has cause for some optimism. Warring factions came to a ceasefire in October 2020 and members of the UN-sponsored Libyan Political Dialogue Forum voted in a new transitional government. Elections are planned for December this year. While there is now a fragile peace, Libyan society remains deeply divided and needs more capable and skilled bridge-builders and peacemakers.
For this reason, the Clingendael Academy continues to work with UN Women to build the capacity and skills of the members of the Libyan Women’s Network for Peacebuilding to take on this bridgebuilding role by training them in skills and knowledge to act as intermediaries within local and regional conflicts, or to play a role in national level political dialogue.
This January, the Clingendael Academy met with the participants again, this time from one of its fully-fledged training studios, for a four-day training focused on mediation, funded by UN Women. Participants learned about the role of the mediator and the tools that are needed to guide parties through a mediation process. They were further trained in effectively dealing with possible pitfalls and obstacles in mediation processes and they extensively discussed the inclusion of women and minorities in these processes.
After the two trainings Clingendael provided in collaboration with UN Women, many of the participants shared that they felt more confident to participate in negotiation and mediation processes. One of them commented:
“I want to thank you for your efforts in training us. There is so much difference between my way of negotiating in Geneva in 2020 and now in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. I am better equipped for the task.”
Last year’s negotiation training and the January training on mediation skills is currently followed by a Training of Trainers programme aimed at a selected group of women from the Network with the aim of disseminating their knowledge within their communities and to strengthen peacebuilding abilities within Libyan society.