Lebanon is still not a post-conflict society. Power sharing and liberal economic growth have failed to deliver stability – more than two decades on from the Taif agreement, the fragile peace is punctuated by repeated outbreaks of political violence.
Civil war sectarian animosities and power struggles have become entrenched. It's clear that major change is needed but essential structural reforms to promote reconciliation, social justice or a shared sense of Lebanese identity have been delayed or blocked by political elites.
Lebanon suffers from constitutional schizophrenia [...] While the Constitution makes the abolition of the confessional system a ‘basic national goal’, other parts of it protect that same system.
We're helping to inform policy so the international community can work with local people and help transform ‘negative stability’ in Lebanon into ‘positive peace’. As part of the People's Peacemaking Perspectives (PPP) project, we've recently been in Brussels presenting our recommendations to European Union (EU) policymakers.
Bringing local perspectives to the attention of international policymakers
The timing of our latest policy brief is pertinent as the EU is currently drafting a new Action Plan to guide its priorities in Lebanon. Elisabeth Picard, co-editor of an upcoming Accord publication on Lebanon, and Lebanese partner and author Karam Karam joined Conciliation Resources staff to present these key findings:
- A conflict prevention and peacebuilding approach should be built into all aspects of EU engagement.
- Political reform is crucial to address deep-seated and growing social tensions. It requires a gradualist and balanced approach that reaches out to all levels of society.
- To move forward Lebanon needs to deal with its past. Issues of truth, memory, justice, accountability and reconciliation need to be addressed.
- Refocusing on internal challenges to Lebanese sovereignty and peace can help build resilience to the country’s external challenges.
Feedback from our recent meetings acknowledged that there is a need for new perspectives and voices to enter the dialogue between the EU and Lebanon. Those directly affected by violence and instability often have particular understanding of the causes and drivers of conflict but their opinions tend to go unheard.
The internal legacy and dynamics of war demand attention
The PPP project is specifically designed to bring the insight of conflict-affected communities to the attention of EU policymakers. This research amplifies the views of ordinary people and civil society who are frequently overlooked in favour of entrenched elites.
Post-war policy on Lebanon – national and international – has prioritised economic reconstruction that has failed to benefit society as a whole. In meetings with representatives of key EU member states and the European External Action Service, we have urged that policy engagement with Lebanon needs to prioritise conflict prevention and sensitivity to build for a more resilient future.
Progress relies on empowering all Lebanese to engage in the country’s politics, economy and society.
• Read the 6-page policy brief: People's Peacemaking Perspectives – Lebanon