Lebanon is a country with a huge potential which currently does not take full advantage of the expertise its well educated citizens can offer. In order to unlock this potential new ideas for an inclusive set-up of society are needed. Most of the challenges today’s Lebanon faces are the result of inefficiencies be it in terms of organizational shortcomings, societal and power imbalances or simply non-representation.
In this project the FES tries in close cooperation with partners to deconstruct current realities and develop progressive policy answers to identified problems. This can be done, for instance, by enabling stakeholders who have not been heard before to put forward their claims and ideas in a structured and argumentative way and to connect them with likeminded decision makers. But it also involves grassroots initiatives who try to tackle a confined issue thus contributing to a new sense of societal coherence.
Given the fact that that young people constitute a major share of the society but are at the same time barely represented in the current system of decision making from the FES’s perspective this is seen as a major obstacle in achieving a more inclusive and participatory political system. Young people suffer disproportionately high from unemployment. They can only vote from the age of 21 and are largely sidelined when it comes to political representation.
With our youth programme we aim at empowering young people to formulate their own needs and ideas just as to equip them with the skills needed to play a part in Lebanon’s way ahead. A special focus is laid on women who are in the context of UN Resolution 1325 intended to play a greater role in a peaceful and prospering reconciliation of interests. We are proud to say that all our initiatives have gone by now through several generations and are contributing alter the status-quo.
The rule of law is inevitable to safeguard a peaceful and civil society in Lebanon. Yet there is a lack of reforms in order to enable citizens to take up their social and political human rights. In this respect FES Lebanon has identified three areas that require added attention.
First, classical human rights need to be anchored within the every-day routines of state institutions and lawyers must always monitor their implementation. Second, the rights of women are significantly retrenched contrary to what the constitution had granted. The current set-up of the sectarian personal status law is the most obvious indicator for that.
Lastly, Lebanon has not yet begun to come to terms with its past. Civil war deeds and resulting confessional conflicts have not been tackled on a nationwide level but rather just within stakeholders’ closed circles. This fact makes Lebanon prone to further polarization.
In 2015, five years after the Arab Spring, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung assigned TNS Infratest, in collaboration with a scientific advisory board and the University of Leipzig, with the implementation of a large-scale quantitative study about youth in the MENA region.