Just in-between

Informal justice on the intersection of mediation, arbitration and referral: Protection mechanisms used by Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese

Syrian refugees in Lebanon, like the local Lebanese communities that host them, rely on their social networks of family, friends, employers, and trusted figures in the community for solution when their rights are violated. Such informal mechanisms exist both within the refugee and Lebanese communities, though they differ across locations.

While both communities prefer informal mechanisms, Syrian refugees are particularly reluctant to resort to the police and judiciary when their rights are violated. This is due to their precarious legal status in the absence of valid residency permits and irregularities in their documents, low trust in the security and judiciary systems in Lebanon, and fear of retaliation.

This report draws upon case studies from rural and urban areas across Lebanon to identify pathways through which vulnerable individuals and families seek protection and justice. It aims to inform donors, UN agencies, and practitioners about the advantages and limitations of community mediation and support as a pathway to informal justice; and to highlight the ways in which peacebuilding approaches can contribute to protection outcomes.

The findings are based on case studies from the northern Akkar region and the capital Beirut collected in 2016, as well as case studies from a pilot project that supported community mediators in Akkar and the Bekaa in 2018.