Offre Joie's award
UNDP Country Director
Mr. Luca Renda
Excellency, Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Marwan Charbel represented by Dean Charbel Matar;
Dr. Antoine Messarra, Director of the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace;
Maître Melhem Khalaf, President of Offre Joie
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon, Masa el Kheir,
I am delighted to be here with you today.
Lebanon has long enjoyed a powerful and vital civil society with a proud history in addressing socio-economic, legal and political challenges facing the country, as well as promoting human rights. Further, the Lebanese civil society often provides a much needed bridge the country’s political, religious, class and cultural differences.
Civil society movements are not only an opportunity to respond to current and important issues that affect our lives, but also a catalyst for the formulation and implementation of laws, a sort of conscience which monitors and holds government, business and other decision makers accountable, while defending those who often lack a voice in decision making.
Moreover, Non-Governmental Organizations play a major role in peace building in Lebanon, perhaps the single greatest challenge facing the country. Despite the often strong political polarization and high levels of tension between different sectors of Lebanese society, NGOs have been working hard to address the root causes of conflict in Lebanon, while strengthening civil peace through messages of reconciliation and dialogue.
Even during the Lebanese civil war, civil society organizations and movements launched several campaigns to call for peace and say no to violence. I am very pleased, in fact, that two of these NGOs have come together to help organize today’s event, the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace who are today commending the work of Offre Joie for its pioneering role in strengthening civil peace in Lebanon and enhancing living conditions in some of the most deprived communities in the country. None of us present here today will ever forget the extraordinary efforts of the hundreds of Offre Joie volunteers in Achrafieh, after the October 2012 bombing.
At the request of a broad group of similar organizations, including the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace, we at UNDP we have been helping to establish and strengthen a national civil society platform on civil peace over the past two years. As a result of the process support, the participating NGOs decided to call their gathering the “National Campaign for Truth and Reconciliation” and agreed on several important outcomes that will be achieved by 2015. We believe that if the NGOs in Lebanon work together hand in hand they will be able to make a difference, and we are committed to maintain our support to you.
Let me conclude by offering, on behalf of all my colleagues at UNDP and the UN System at large, my sincere appreciation for the courage and commitment of both the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace and Offre Joie. The timing for these efforts could not be more critical as Lebanon faces growing challenges to civil peace on an almost daily basis. Yet we are confident that with the courage and energy exemplified by those of you with us today, brought together in unity, peace in Lebanon can prevail.