Maybe it’s the new year – or, more likely, a sense of responsibility by the international community – but negotiators have signaled a new willingness to tackle two of the world’s most stubborn conflicts, Libya and Syria.

Libya hasn’t shown itself able to reach a new equilibrium with a unified government since 2011, when combined forces overthrew Moammar Gadhafi. Fighting continues among tribal and local militias to the degree that even the country’s oil production, its only asset, has been severely disrupted.

The number of competing parties in Libya, the fact that all of them are heavily armed and the number of foreign countries with a dog in the fight all make negotiating an end to the conflict a major challenge. Nonetheless, the U.N. has stepped up to take it on.

The conflict in Syria, which also dates from 2011, has claimed 200,000 lives and driven some 10 million from their homes. It has also made Islamic State possible, as governments in Iraq and Syria have been incapable of controlling the group’s hold on their territory.

Secretary of State John Kerry tried in vain in 2013 to launch Syrian peace talks. Russia and the U.N. have now expressed interest in trying again to bring the civil war to an end.

The U.S. should stay out of the way in both sets of talks, apart from urging various American clients in the conflicts to participate constructively.