New initiative invites Lebanese citizens to make voices heard

Citizens across Lebanon have started taking part in an innovative programme launched by peacebuilding charity International Alert which provides a platform for people to discuss and shape the issues and policies that their everyday lives.

The programme, entitled A Citizen Consultation Mechanism, is funded by the European Union and will run until January 2016 in partnership with FRAME and Legal Agenda.

It encourages a diverse range of individuals to come together locally and identify common concerns they are facing. These will then be voiced at a regional level through further consultations, which in turn aim to influence the priorities and decisions of policy makers at a national level.

The programme kicked off with a series of three district-level discussion groups in Beirut in November, and meetings have also been held in Saida, Tyre, Nabatieh and Baalbek.

One participant of a recent Beirut meeting praised the initiative for giving citizens hope that it can get their voices heard:

“Lebanese people have partly given up; they are not used to following up on issues they are suffering from anymore. Engaging with fellow community members gives us an additional strength and motivates us to find solutions to improve the situation we are currently in.”

Twenty-four district-level discussions are planned in total, involving about 350 people across the country. Next meetings will be in Hermel and coastal areas.

International Alert’s Lebanon Country Manager Victoria Stamadianou said:

“Despite the difficult political reality in Lebanon in which this project is being implemented, we believe it fosters a much needed avenue for citizens to vocalise and share their views among themselves in this initial phase”.

These findings will be validated through six provincial-level discussions, involving participants from each district meeting, and then presented to national policy-makers, media, civil society and experts during a series of discussions held in parliament, with the support of the Lebanese Parliamentary Administration and the Arab Institute for Parliamentary Training and Legislative Studies.

This entire process of taking citizens voices from a local to national level ultimately aims to stimulate debate and allow policymakers to better align their decisions with the views and needs of the public. In doing so, it aims to foster a sense of citizenship and contribute to lasting peace in Lebanon.

The process is being documented with voice recordings, photos and video footage to ensure full transparency.

Videos of the discussions and an animation about the programme can be viewed on the Citizen Consultation YouTube page. Lebanese citizens are invited to sign up to these discussion groups by calling: +961 711 61 387 and to share their views on Facebook and Twitter.

CONTACT US

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Ilaria Bianchi
Head of Communications
International Alert
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 627 6858 / +44 (0) 7910 255 256
Email: ibianchi@international-alert.org

Details of spokespeople available for interviews on request.

EDITOR’S NOTES

The project started in April 2014 and will run until January 2016. The project is implemented by International Alert (www.international-alert.org ), FRAME (www.facebook.com/FrameBeirut ) and Legal Agenda (www.legal-agenda.com ), and is funded by the European Union.

About International Alert

International Alert is one of the world’s leading peacebuilding organisations. We help people find peaceful solutions to conflict and have nearly 30 years of experience working in over 25 countries around the world to build peace. We have been working on dialogue among political youth, security sector reform, conflict sensitisation of aid provision and state–citizen relations in Lebanon since 2009.

About FRAME

FRAME is a Beirut based non-governmental organisation with two streams: Citizen mobilisation in collective documentation projects that use creative mediums to engage with their neighbourhoods and the city at large; and social research focusing on governance, citizen participation, power dynamics, and security and peace issues.

About Legal Agenda

The Legal Agenda is a Beirut-based non-governmental organisation that addresses issues of legal activism, reform, and transformation in the context of social and political change in the Arab world. By monitoring legal developments and public policy in Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world, we aim to eliminate this ideological barrier between law and society.

This project is funded by: