Throughout the countries of the Middle East, citizens view the state with suspicion. State institutions are often experienced as biased towards the powerful, corrupt and predatory, and as a sometimes violent means to safeguard the position of a ruling elite, or the domination of one part of the population over others. Participation, on the other hand, is mostly reduced to elections of questionable representational value, or relies on informal channels and structures and primordial relations, and thus reinforces existing patterns of subordination and power. The program Statehood & Participation supports initiatives that demand accountability and due process and encourage citizens to become aware, active and organized around issues of (gender-)democratic participation, freedom of expression and sustainable development.
As a religion, Islam is often accused of discriminatory practices towards women. Whether this is true or not cannot be easily determined. On the one hand, there are indeed many verses in Qur’an which assert that women are not equal to men in their human and social status , or in matters of inheritance , court testimony , polygamy, and personal cleanliness . According to Qur’an, on many matters women are not permitted to have a voice - this is particularly the case in sexual relationships. On the other hand, there are other verses in Qur’an which suggest the opposite is true. These verses advocate for equality and harmony between men and women in an Islamic society.
Women have long been subjected to political and social marginalization in the Land of the Cedars. Ever since 1952, the year in which women obtained the right to vote in Lebanon, the proportion of women occupying parliamentary seats has remained exceptionally low. Despite frequent assertions by Lebanon’s male politicians that women constitute half of society and therefore are entitled to have a say in the way the country is run, at present their political representation falls far below acceptable limits.
Conflict and crisis continue to be the double term most consistently associated with the region. A multitude of fault lines today run across the region, springing from unresolved grievances past and present. As flash points continue to erupt, such conflicts radiate out and reach those who once considered themselves safely away over the sea. Accordingly, international efforts and intervention are being stepped up to set things right - but all too often, they get it all wrong. The program Conflict and International Politics is designed to analyze the roots of conflict, encourage constructive engagement with the memory and repercussions of conflict, and inquire into avenues to peaceful and cooperative solutions.
Where can we begin to seek for justice in a war that sees violations of basic human rights committed by almost all conflicting parties? In our conference “How to do Justice? Accountability for Mass Atrocities in Syria” we invited panelists from different fields of expertise to find answers to this very urgent question.
When so-called ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) fighters were reported to have blasted and bulldozed the ancient Assyrian site of Nimrud into the ground last year, the rest of the world lined up to condemn its actions. One ISIS militant, engaged in the destruction of Assyrian antiquities in the Mosul museum, told the camera ‘we were ordered by our prophet to take down idols and destroy them.’
The Middle East is characterized by high income economies relying on energy exports, and middle to low income economies with limited resources for export. Both developmental models tend to neglect sustainability - but pollution, climate change and loss of natural resources already are rampant and will effect future generations even more drastically. Pushing for sustainable development is also a question of justice: between current and future generations, but also between those who have the means to isolate themselves from the negative repercussions of unsustainable practices, and those who have to bear the brunt of it. The program Environmental Justice puts special emphasis on the issues of climate change and renewable energies, on the access to public resources, and the right to sustainable agriculture and a just international trade regime.
The Lebanese Commission for Environment and Development in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Middle East Office have the pleasure to invite you to a panel discussion entitled 'After the Paris Agreement and the Marrakech Calls - How will Lebanon Deal with Its Commitments on Climate Change?'
Place: The Green Room at the Ministry of Environment Monday, December 5, 2016 between 10:00 and 13:00
Discussions with representatives from the Lebanese Commission for Environment and Development, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Energy and Water, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
National, political and religious identities remain subjects of contention around the region. People in the Middle East are called upon to rally around narrowly defined values that are deployed in struggles over markets, power and cultural hegemony, and often have little opportunity to choose and decide how to define themselves, where to look for sources of inspiration and pride. The program Culture and Dialogue wants to widen understanding about the cultural dimensions of conflict and their relation to globalization and inequality of power, and supports cultural expressions and perspectives of socio-political issues and cross-cultural exchange.
Following the success of “JOGGING- Theatre in progress”* in Beirut in October 2016, Hanane Hajj Ali will give additional performances in different places Lebanon in 2017 in order to reach audiences who have less access to theatrical performances and to discuss with them the main issues presented in the play.
With the development of the Arab Spring across the neighboring Arab nations, such as in Syria and Egypt, and with the inescapable consequences and repercussions on the Lebanese political scene, a new wave of protests against the Lebanese politicians has arisen, particularly following the government’s failure to resolve the mounting garbage crisis.
One of the most interesting aspects of these demonstrations is the involvement of numerous Lebanese artists who are using the protests as a space to address their political views. For this purpose, they use different kinds of artistic expressions, such as music, paintings, graffiti etc. in order to convey messages to a larger public and to attract a bigger number of protestors and activists.