Last week in Istanbul, Turkey, ICNL and the Network of Democrats in the Arab World (NDAW) held a study mission for Libyan civil society and government officials. The mission, which brought together 45 representatives from every region of Libya, aimed to build greater civil society engagement with the Libyan government and greater rights and protections for civil society.
Participants learned about the roles and rights of civil society, as well as the fundamental aspects of cooperation between civil society and government officials. In addition, participants identified how Libya’s draft constitution could be revised to best protect the freedom of association and permit civil society organizations (CSOs) to operate freely. Putting into practice the principles of advocacy, participants planned strategies for future engagement among CSOs, mayors, and members of the constitution drafting committee.
Critically, the study mission allowed Libyan participants to learn from the Turkish experience in CSO-government cooperation. The workshop included two days of field visits to different municipalities in Turkey, where participants met with numerous mayors and learned first-hand about tangible ways that Turkish civil society interacts and works cooperatively with elected officials.
In addition to the skills and concepts that participants gained from the study mission, the bonds they forged with one another during the week in Istanbul will undoubtedly serve them well when they return home to continue to build a peaceful and democratic Libya, with a free and effective civil society.