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

This report aims to support organisations in the planning and design of peacebuilding and development interventions in Lebanon.

It provides an update to the context analysis report Envisioning and contesting a new Lebanon? Actors, issues and dynamics following the October protests, which covered the period between October 2019 and January 2020. It considers the implications of COVID-19 on the issues and dynamics identified in the previous report, following the same framing of discussing actors, issues and dynamics.

This new report covers the period between February and July 2020. It seeks to guide peacebuilding and development programmes while identifying spaces for strengthening civic activism and political dialogue amid a highly volatile, uncertain and tense situation.

It draws on semi-structured interviews with women and men of different age groups, interests and areas of activism, as well as different political affiliations – both with political parties of the establishment and opposition parties. Interviews conducted for this report also complement the field work of the previous report.

The data was collected and analysed before the massive explosion in Beirut Port on 4 August 2020. This event has had a huge impact on the peacebuilding context in Lebanon and significant implications for the outlooks presented in the analysis and for peacebuilding overall.

The Beirut Port explosion hit the country at a time when it was already grappling with an economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the political stalemate since October 2019. Along with the physical destruction, it left a heavy toll of human loss, injury and trauma. It also had wide-reaching implications in terms of political and economic fallout, ailing infrastructure and food security. The port is a major facility that imports 70% of Lebanon’s local consumption, and the damage has severely impacted the country’s main economic hub. The explosion has placed Lebanon at a critical juncture both internally and regionally, the political ramifications of which are yet to be seen.

Given the timing of the data collection, this major development is not explored in this report. Conditions are still changing rapidly, dynamics are evolving and new risks are emerging, while at the same time opportunities to support community-based initiatives and solidarity efforts, (re)build social ties and support reform are also unfolding. This means that the issues and dynamics presented in this paper are still relevant today.

Related publication

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