Last month representatives from the youth wings of 18 political parties in Lebanon shared a joint declaration on the rights of Palestinian refugees. The declaration was the result of a series of discussions supported by International Alert to encourage peaceful debate among the political parties in the country.
Lebanon is a plural society with a complex system of governance which is designed to ensure political power-sharing between sectarian communities. These kinds of discussions are therefore important because they help youth leaders – the next generation of national politicians – to better understand the opinions of their peers in other political parties. They also give them experience of exchange, consultation, negotiation and building consensus – vital skills in a plural society.
The declaration was the result of a lengthy process of debate and negotiation. At the beginning of last year, in the midst of worsening political polarisation in Lebanon with the conflict in Syria, the representatives agreed to focus on the topic of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. They wanted to produce a joint declaration supporting the Palestinian right to return, to explore the socio-economic conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and to agree on how these can be improved.
In drafting the declaration, the group consulted with representatives of Palestinian civil society in order to test their assumptions, strengthen their analysis and therefore make improvements to the joint statement.
You can read their declaration below. Find out more about our work in Lebanon here.