Envisioning and contesting a new Lebanon? Actors, issues and dynamics following the October protests

This report provides an analysis that captures a snapshot of Lebanon between October 2019 and February 2020. It summarises the main causes of tensions following the nationwide protests that began in October 2019.

These causes – associated with perceptions and experiences of key social groups and political actors, their relationships and underlying dynamics – could present entry points for engagement and deepen understanding of evolving dynamics. The analysis was developed with the aim of supporting organisations in planning and designing peacebuilding and development interventions in the aftermath of these protests.

The data was collected and analysed before two major events hit Lebanon: the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures starting on 15 March; and the massive explosion in Beirut Port on 4 August 2020. Both developments have had extensive ramifications on the context in the country and significant implications for the outlooks presented in the analysis and for peacebuilding overall.

Given the timing of the data collection, these two major developments are not explored in this report. Conditions are changing rapidly, dynamics are evolving and new risks are emerging. At the same time, opportunities to support community-based initiatives and solidarity efforts, (re)build social ties and support reform are also unfolding. As such, the issues and dynamics presented in this report are still relevant today.

In light of this, it is useful to view this report as an analysis of how longstanding and underlying political, economic, social and environmental issues have fed into emerging dynamics that have evolved since October 2019, shaping and informing the new context.

This report was followed by an updated context analysis that builds on and further develops some of the key findings in this research and examines the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut Port explosion on conflict dynamics, peacebuilding trends and peacebuilding work in Lebanon.

Related publication

Prospects for peace in crises: Lebanon context analysis, February-July 2020