Connecting policy-making to public opinion in Lebanon

International Alert recently brought together members of civil society, politicians, academics and citizens from different backgrounds to discuss local issues affecting citizens’ quality of life in Lebanon, including the ongoing garbage crisis, rule of law, corruption and healthcare.

The event on 28 October was organised in partnership with Legal Agenda and FRAME to mark the end of our two-year project, Citizens’ Agenda, which aimed at “connecting policy-makers with public opinion across Lebanon,” says lawyer Nizar Saghieh from Legal Agenda, who provided legal expertise during the discussions.

The political system in Lebanon, like the wider society, is divided along partisan and sectarian lines. This has not only led to the politicisation of issues affecting people’s daily lives, but also the monopolisation of the political agenda by national security and foreign policy issues. Yet citizens have little opportunity to improve the situation.

Citizens’ Agenda was a unique opportunity for people to come together from across the country to identify and engage in discussions around common issues that affect their standard of living and daily lives. It also exposed policy-makers to more informed public opinion, in order to enable them to better align their decisions with the views and needs of their constituents.

Attending the event, MP Ghassan Moukheiber (pictured above) from Beirut explained the steps the government was taking to address the issues raised during the project. He also stressed the importance of citizens’ voices in developing representative and sound public policies. “Participation is possible if citizens get acquainted with best practices to engage with the parliament,” he explained.

“Consulting citizens and citizens’ engagement in policy-making is much needed to develop sound public policies,” argues Chiara Butti, our Lebanon Country Director. “This is how governments are made more responsive.”

You can find out more about Citizens’ Agenda on the project’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/consultcitizens.

The project was funded by the European Union.