Changing a crooked system from within might seem like a desperate effort, especially when the same political actors had been in power for over 20 years facilitating corruption and clientelism. Yet, it is a task that the civil platform Beirut Madinati took upon itself when they ran in the 2016 Lebanese municipal elections for the Beirut city council. Although they were not able to win a seat due to the Lebanese winner-takes-all electoral system, their high electoral success caused a massive uproar, also among the established political parties. For this research, a series of interviews has been conducted with members of Beirut Madinati in order to assess the reasons for their success, public reactions and considerations for their further proceedings.
Repression of civil society is on the rise all over the world. The charter aims to support civil society organizations as activists throughout the world, to advocate for their rights and freedom of action, and to demand government guarantees.
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.
Even though the diversity in Arabic-language hip-hop might make generalizations difficult, journalists seem to find it fairly easy to celebrate the music’s role in the perceived Arab march for Western democratic values. Titles such as “Is hip hop driving the Arab Spring?” from the BBC, and “Palestinians In Lebanon Find A Political Tool In Hip-Hop” from NPR, are indicative of the potential attributed to this musical genre.
There's little hope for an improvement of the Syrian situation. Nonetheless, there are civil society activists who are still working on non-violent resistance and democratic change. Sarah Schwahn conducted interviews with many of them to see what motivates them to continue.