With the development of the Arab Spring across the neighboring Arab nations, such as in Syria and Egypt, and with the inescapable consequences and repercussions on the Lebanese political scene, a new wave of protests against the Lebanese politicians has arisen, particularly following the government’s failure to resolve the mounting garbage crisis.
One of the most interesting aspects of these demonstrations is the involvement of numerous Lebanese artists who are using the protests as a space to address their political views. For this purpose, they use different kinds of artistic expressions, such as music, paintings, graffiti etc. in order to convey messages to a larger public and to attract a bigger number of protestors and activists.
One year ago, Heinrich Böll Stiftung’s Beirut office did a research on the European Neighbourhood Policy and its perception in Lebanon. Views from the region on the performance of the European Union are important and it is particularly beneficial to see how experts and activists on the ground perceive the impact of it and take their recommendations on what could be improved and how. Therefore this year, we conducted interviews with a number of researchers and practitioners in Lebanon on specific issues – discussing with them specific findings of the EU’s own progress report and the latest press release of December 2015.
8,331 - is the astonishing number of officially registered civil society organisations in the small state of Lebanon. From HIV prevention over democracy building to environmental protection, almost no topic remains unaddressed. However, from a closer look, the impact yielded by these groups in the compact state in the Middle East often remains somewhat restricted. On the example of gender equality – a topic fervently debated in Lebanon – this paper analyses the internal and external reasons behind this surprising discrepancy and stipulate thought about how to make the Lebanese civil society work more effectively.
The civil society movement during the garbage crisis in Beirut after July 2015.
When garbage started to pile up in the streets of Beirut in summer 2015, a new wave of civil society protests was initiated in the country. Thousands of Lebanese were protesting in the streets – against the garbage situation, corruption of the government, the failure of electing a president, sectarianism and many more issues connected to the crisis of the state and the waste management. More than half a year later, no final solution for the garbage has been found and the political situation has not changed. It is said that the civil society movement failed to put pressure on the government, but also the regime itself is made responsible for the lack of change. For many people it was hard to follow up with what was happening on the streets during the demonstrations and to understand who the protestors were and which goals they tried to achieve. This paper analyzes the dynamics of the movement and tries to explain why not much has changed so far and if there is any chance for civil society movements in Lebanon in the future.
On the day they removed her name completely from my official papers, my existence was transferred from her “guardianship” to the “guardianship” of my employer, whose name is on my residence card. Struck with fierce bitterness and sadness, I felt as though I had been shattered, like our house. My mother said to me: “It is as though I didn’t give birth to you, or as if I am not Lebanese. It is as though I mean nothing at all.”
The Lebanese constitution stipulates that all citizens, male and female, are equal before the law in terms of their rights and duties. Karima Chebbo, who runs the legal unit of the My Nationality is a Right for Me and My Family campaign acknowledges that the reality is very different and that the country’s laws contain aspects that are unfair and inequitable, shedding light on the situation of Lebanese mothers married to foreigners being denied the right to pass on their nationality to their families.
The dilemma faced by the EU in its search for an effective policy with Lebanon
The European Union is compelled to define its role in Lebanon anew and needs to disperse tensions within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Is the policy’s focal point to be shared values or stability? Active policy development or non-interference? Perspectives unearthed through fieldwork in Lebanon.