Lebanon: Challenges Of The Future. Lebanon: A Ravaged Model?

A point of view for the future of Lebanon which was pronounced in the French Senate by Dr. Ghada El-Yafi, September 25, 2003. It is a question of an analysis to develop in order to reform deeply the political, electoral, legal and cultural structure of Lebanon.

?As long as the play and the structure policies of Lebanon are at denominational base, the future of the country remains dubious.
Built on a multiconfessionnel system to put in confidence the minorities, the Lebanese model was to evolve with time, to the consolidation of the democratic capacity, and thus stability. However it was not thus. The obstacles are multiple. They concern especially the demographic structure of the country, certain defects of the political system and education system. Initially on the level of the structure even of Lebanon.

This one is strewn with a multitude of villages which are very mainly plain denominational, therefore rather closed. With the wire of time, the rural migration created more diversified, more open and more tolerant agglomerations. Lebanon unfortunately did not know, nor not been able, to benefit from the positive aspect of this movement, social and demographic because the electoral law wants that the citizen votes not according to his place of dwelling but according to the place of his marital status which usually corresponds to its place of origin.

This resulted in to reinforce the denominational political structure of the country and to consolidate the relationship between citizens and elected officials on a basis of clan, of confession or personal services. Elected officials, supporting their stronghold naturally. The unceasingly variable electoral cutting from one election to another, as well as the disaffection of the electorate, are at the same time, the cause and the consequence, of faintness deeply felt by the population in front of this situation if not very democratic.

The share taken by the confessions in management of certain aspects of the capacity, such as for example, the personal statute which concerns denominational courts, is not any more one participation, but straightforwardly a substitution for the role of the State. If among the emergency courts, the Moslem courts form integral part of the legal order of the State, the Christian courts as for them, have a legislative and total jurisdictional independence . This creates a climate of inequality of the citizens and makes them still more dependent on the chiefs of their respective communities. Always on the denominational level, the private schools are contributed to reinforce cleavage between the respective communities. With time, they revealed, for the majority, a clear superiority of their teaching compared to the majority of the public schools, thus attracting each other increasingly important customers.

In the absence of a clear educational national policy, even if the programs of the instruction are equivalent, the differences in the approach of education led to important dissensions where the concept of citizen was eclipsed with the profit of the ?denominational? individual.
All that contributed to the erroneous exercise of the capacity. Instead of dealing with the management of the State in order to ensure a better future of the citizens while sharing the responsibilities, the representatives of the various communities baited themselves to benefit to the maximum of the basket from the State to make of it?profit their respective communities, but actually, their co-religionists, arbitrarily and inequitable, without another criterion besides, that the personal relations.

Right, qualifications and competences are relegated to the second plan. The remainder of the community, must be satisfied ?confessionnally? to be represented. Few tensions or dissensions are raised, between the communities, as long as this ?cake? is in growth. Frustrations appear as soon as it starts to narrow, because nobody wants to give up his assets. It is in such a context that the war took place, supported by the denominational divergences and reaching paroxysms at the most sectarian groups and the most closed.

During 15 years of war, the citizens were obliged to move towards their respective communities. Instead of evolving to more cohesion while mixing as that should have been it, the Lebanese company ?was sectarized?, and ?was ghetto?sed?.

The agreement of Ta?f, if it could stop the engagements, did not succeed in exceeding the confessionnalism, as that is clearly mentioned there. It seems, on the contrary, to have devoted the concept of the denominational division of the ?cake? and to have reinforced the central capacity. The rebuilding with the haste of the country is primarily polarized on its appearance. The reforms structural, educational, social and legal were relegated to the second plan.

Thirteen years after the end of the war, the problems of the country were exacerbated. Without giving an opinion on the economic policy which is not my spring, I can nevertheless observe some of the results of them: each new-born baby has as of his birth approximately 10 000 euros of debt, industry is decimated, agriculture in suffering, unemployment in progression, the insufficient wages, the more and more raised cost of living, the taxes without relationship to the awaited services, the failing social security. This accompanies of course, an imbalance of the social classes with the disappearance of the middle class. Like consequence, one attends an increase in offences, an increase in the begging, a propagation of the corruption and especially the emigration.

The confessionnalism is not in remainder: The ?cake? narrowed and each one shows the other to have taken the large share! Thus, to vertical cleavage, denominational, of the company, was added another cleavage, horizontal, this one: Rich person and others. Can one leave the dead end? Yes, if the decision makers adopt the principle of fundamental and courageous reforms.

The solutions must have objective triple: to cure after-effects of the war, to develop social cohesion, to imply the citizens in the decisions of their future. The action must be immediate and simultaneous.

My first point relates to the war. It is essential to analyze it objectively, of the exorciser, to seek and say the whole truth, even if it is painful, to make a public self-criticism which would cause to contribute to release the citizens of all the prejudices and to make them admit that the war served their interests. In parallel the schools and universities would consider the imperfections of their education systems which were not able to prevent the war and violence.

My second point relates to education. Social cohesion passes initially by education and there one should act on 2 levels:
Firstly, to conceive a system which makes it possible to establish bridges between pupils of areas, confessions or different classes. This would be used as a basis for an education on the obligation and equal rights, and would reduce the sectarian and denominational prejudices. One would inculcate at the same time, the idea of freedom closely related to that of responsibility.
Secondly, it is essential to adapt the programs to the needs. If our essential need, today, is to develop social cohesion, it would be necessary then, to teach only one book of history of Lebanon since its origin phenician while passing by all civilizations which crossed it and marked until the time of the Arab rebirth more r?cente.?

This would devote its Arab identity as well in the spirits in the texts. One would introduce, in addition, with the envisaged programs , the history and the ethics of the religions.
My 3rd not relates to the participation and the implication of the citizen with the solutions which relate to it. It is essential to extremely reverse the concept even of ?State with central capacity?. The law having granted the administrative autonomy and financial to the municipalities, should be applied in its gasoline, while taking the precautions necessary to prevent the local clientelism.

In parallel, one would grant to the citizens the initiative of the choice of their priorities and their execution, on a small level initially which would be increasing, by encouraging the creation of associations of citizens, between them or with the public organizations. Thus, autonomy on the one hand, the creation of associations on the other hand, would bring them inevitably, to cooperate and weave a social fabric, on a bottom of interests economic, ecological and cultural common.

The public organizations would have as a role that of expert, guide and support. To carry out these objectives, two conditions are necessary: the independence of justice and the reform of the electoral system. The evolution of the democracy and the citizenship, can be carried out only if the institutions are protected from the abuses. It is essential to release the justice of the yoke and the influence of the politicians and the religious chiefs.

This requires urgent political reforms: By way of example, why not grant the higher council of the magistrature the exclusiveness in the appointment of the judges? This would contribute to fight against the corruption and could put a term at the impunity of the politicians. In this same context, one could evoke the need for amending certain laws which continue to make a discrimination between men and women. But the most accessible means, in the short term, to arrive at the democracy would be to found an electoral system which, while respecting, transitorily, the denominational and regional quorums would make it possible to the voter to be released from the yoke of the clans and their pressure.

To establish an adequate system is not impossible to realize; its study and its development should be the most important project of the pioneers of this true democratization of Lebanon.

In conclusion, Lebanon, privileged by its denominational diversity, can aspire to stability only in one context of true democracy, i.e. where each citizen does not have no privilege and feels any frustration compared to the other, and where, raised in the values of the democracy, it recovers the right and the means of taking part in the decisions which relate to it. Only a secular State in its constitution and its structure, which respects the civil rights stated by the universal declaration of the humans right and devoted since 1926 by the Lebanese constitution, while insisting more particularly on the respect of the worship and the religious beliefs, will be able to arrive at stability so much required and could be a model, and the example to be followed by all the companies of the close countries whatever their diversities: denominational, ethnic or tribal.?

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Hardly working for a safe environment including politics to give our grandchildren a better future.
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