Throughout the countries of the Middle East, citizens view the state with suspicion. State institutions are often experienced as biased towards the powerful, corrupt and predatory, and as a sometimes violent means to safeguard the position of a ruling elite, or the domination of one part of the population over others. Participation, on the other hand, is mostly reduced to elections of questionable representational value, or relies on informal channels and structures and primordial relations, and thus reinforces existing patterns of subordination and power. The program Statehood & Participation supports initiatives that demand accountability and due process and encourage citizens to become aware, active and organized around issues of (gender-)democratic participation, freedom of expression and sustainable development.
Conflict and crisis continue to be the double term most consistently associated with the region. A multitude of fault lines today run across the region, springing from unresolved grievances past and present. As flash points continue to erupt, such conflicts radiate out and reach those who once considered themselves safely away over the sea. Accordingly, international efforts and intervention are being stepped up to set things right - but all too often, they get it all wrong. The program Conflict and International Politics is designed to analyze the roots of conflict, encourage constructive engagement with the memory and repercussions of conflict, and inquire into avenues to peaceful and cooperative solutions.
The Right to Belong to a Political Community: Syrian refugees in Lebanon face difficulties in their legal status and in the possibilities they have to claim rights. The reasons are complex and go far beyond the Lebanese context, however, that most of them are illegal is crucial since revealing themselves to the authority with any claim is a risk. Antonia Klein studied the impact of gaps in international law adapting to the world refugee situation and looks at patterns in Lebanon.
The Middle East is characterized by high income economies relying on energy exports, and middle to low income economies with limited resources for export. Both developmental models tend to neglect sustainability - but pollution, climate change and loss of natural resources already are rampant and will effect future generations even more drastically. Pushing for sustainable development is also a question of justice: between current and future generations, but also between those who have the means to isolate themselves from the negative repercussions of unsustainable practices, and those who have to bear the brunt of it. The program Environmental Justice puts special emphasis on the issues of climate change and renewable energies, on the access to public resources, and the right to sustainable agriculture and a just international trade regime.
On the topic of “Citizen Participation in Urban Sustainable Development”, Heinrich Böll Stiftung (hbs) represented by its offices in Palestine & Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco concluded a five-day regional summer school in Tunis, hosted and organized by hbs Tunisia Office. The event took place between July 15th – 21st, 2018. It brought together 23 environmental activists, architects, artists and young community leaders from the MENA Region and provided them with a platform for capacity building, debate, and the exchange of ideas, opinions and experiences from the region on civil participation and sustainable urban development.
The Horsh Beirut Festival is a public event held each summer in Beirut’s largest green park bringing together people of all backgrounds and age groups to enjoy the green scenery and landscape and partake in a variety of free cultural, artistic and recreational activities.
The event aims to give people the opportunity to access the city’s formerly closed public park which before the war was a place for gathering, festivals and traditions open for everyone.
This year’s festival will take place over two days, from 23 to 24 June 2018 from 15.00 to 22.00 and is organized by ASSABIL, Friends of Public Libraries, an NGO promoting free and unlimited access to information, and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Beirut Office, a political foundation promoting informed democratic opinion, socio-political commitment and mutual understanding.
National, political and religious identities remain subjects of contention around the region. People in the Middle East are called upon to rally around narrowly defined values that are deployed in struggles over markets, power and cultural hegemony, and often have little opportunity to choose and decide how to define themselves, where to look for sources of inspiration and pride. The program Culture and Dialogue wants to widen understanding about the cultural dimensions of conflict and their relation to globalization and inequality of power, and supports cultural expressions and perspectives of socio-political issues and cross-cultural exchange.
Following the success of “JOGGING- Theatre in progress”* in Beirut in October 2016, Hanane Hajj Ali will give additional performances in different places Lebanon in 2017 in order to reach audiences who have less access to theatrical performances and to discuss with them the main issues presented in the play.