The UNDP Peace Building Project (2006-2011) aimed to address the underlying causes of conflict in Lebanon and sought to create “safe spaces” for local identity groups to discuss their concerns openly and enhance mutual understanding of the different “other”. Social cohesion was enhanced at the local, community and national levels between civil society (youth, educators, media, NGOs and religious leaders) and relevant local public (municipal council members and mukhtars) actors. Through training programs, advocacy work and enhanced networking, stakeholders were better equipped to actively and harmoniously contribute to peace building, community dialogue and ensure a more effective bottom-up impact of efforts. Building on these initiatives, the second phase of the project (2011-2013), Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon, focused on strengthening dialogue, trust- and consensus building, enhancing and nurturing partnerships between civil society and local government actors. During the second phase, focus was directed towards strengthening initiatives that promote collective memory and integrate peace building concepts into formal and non-formal educational channels. Moreover, the project tackled media (traditional and alternative) to manage diversity and decrease biased reporting. At the local level, the project focused on developing local level peace strategies in three conflict prone areas of Lebanon with a special focus on youth engagement. Finally, a cross-political, multi-confessional civil society platform addressing civil peace was created and supported. With the Syrian crisis further impacting the Lebanese context, the project acted as a focal point to many partner organizations on issues pertaining to the impact of the Syrian crisis impact on social cohesion in Lebanon, both in terms of inter Lebanese relations and Lebanese Syrian interaction.
Building on the understanding and successes of the previous two phases, the third phase of the project (2014-2015) will focus on addressing the new challenges to civil peace and peace building in the country posed by the Syrian crisis. Therefore, the focus will be on four outputs: 1. Education promoting social cohesion supported; 2. Media empowered to promote balanced and conflict sensitive media coverage; 3. Local level peace building strategies to mitigate tensions developed in selected conflict prone areas of Lebanon hosting Syrian refugees; 4. An NGO platform promoting nation-wide truth and reconciliation supported ex-fighters’ role in promoting peace building supported.
Achievements & Expected Results
Peace Building through Local Communities
Due to the important role local leaders play, namely in managing the local residents’ affairs and thus dealing with local conflicts, the project supports local leaders in crisis management, especially in light of the impact of the Syrian crisis on host communities and covers villages all over Lebanon. The project works with the heads and members of municipal councils as well as with representatives from various sectors in the community to develop “Mechanisms for Social Stability” (MSS).
These mechanisms promote social stability through engaging local stakeholders in a participatory process to address challenges facing both Lebanese communities and the Syrian displaced.
Peace Building through Media
The UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project works on providing positive media spaces and promoting rational speeches to address controversial issues, by publishing Joint News Supplements with Annahar, As-Safir, the Daily Star and L’Orient-Le Jour newspapers, where writers, journalists, media professionals, researchers and artists from Lebanon and Syria discuss and share their views about the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon and other civil peace issues.
Moreover, the project, in partnership with Maharat Foundation, is monitoring the implementation of the “Journalists’ Pact for Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon” (launched by the project in 2013 in partnership with the Ministry of Information) by the 34 national media outlets which signed the Pact. As a result, monitoring studies are produced.
Peace Building through Education
The project seeks, through the use of formal educational channels in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to integrate peace building concepts into the school environment. Through its Violence Free Schools Initiative, the project targets school principals, teachers, students, school staff members, and parents. These are first sensitized on peace building and nonviolent means of dealing with conflicts. Then they establish task forces at the school level which develop “Codes of Conduct for Non Violence”, based on which a set of soft and hard activities are implemented.
Peace Building through Civil Society
Based on the prominent role that non-governmental organizations play in the peace building process, the project supports a number of national organizations in implementing peace building activities targeting different groups of the society, mainly youth.
The project also supports a group of ex-fighters from the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) who decided to establish the “Fighters for Peace” NGO which aims at contributing to peace building.
Peace Building through Conflict Mapping and Analysis
The project in partnership with “Lebanon Support” NGO – is still updating the interactive online Conflict Map launched in September 2014, and which aims at helping actors in the response efforts to the Syrian crisis better understanding conflicts. The project also produces periodic conflict analysis bulletins highlighting trends and findings from the mapped data. In addition, the project conducts conflict analysis research on the specific dynamics and context of conflict in particular areas.
Output 1: Education promoting social cohesion supported
Output 2: Media empowered to promote balanced and conflict sensitive media coverage
Output 3: Local level peace building strategies to mitigate tensions will be developed in selected conflict prone areas of Lebanon hosting Syrian refugees
Output 4: An NGO platform promoting nation-wide truth and reconciliation and ex-fighters’ role in promoting peace building will be supported.
The maps can be found on the following link:
Arab Bank Bldg.
Riad El-Solh St., Nejmeh, Beirut
Phone: +961 1 980583
Fax: +961 1 981935
Office Mobile: +961 70 119160
Issues & Difficulties
- Limited funding for the more “Lebanese” peace building related activities of the project, and those dealing with root causes of conflicts in Lebanon
- Official and direct buy- in of the Ministry of Education for the work under peace education
- Funding is in most cases secured for short term basis which affects both the internal management of the project and the activities and their impact