In Lebanon, peace organisation PAX works with local partners on projects focussed on human rights and conflict resolution and on initiatives to mobilize young people for peace and direct peaceful action. Our partners lobby the Lebanese government to change laws and to respect human rights and activate young people for culture and peaceful activism. For instance, they call on the government to repeal legislation on different religious groups and to give Palestinian refugees more rights. On a grassroots level we work on building capacities of local young people from different backgrounds to use culture as a means to deal with violence, war and hatred.
Lebanon had no reconciliation process after the civil war that ended in 1990. That is why tensions keeps rising to the surface and why Lebanon is sensitive to developments in neighbouring countries. Lebanon is a compartmentalised society with 18 different confessional communities. The sectarian system is fixed in the constitution. The president must be a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni, and the Speaker of the Parliament a Shiite. Parliamentary seats are divided over various religious groups. When the system no longer reflects the demographic conditions in society, tension rises and power struggles occur. Once the Syrian struggle turned into a war, Lebanon became entangled in the conflict. Some groups of the population support the Syrian opposition while the Lebanese Hezbollah fights alongside Assad's troops.
Together with Istanbouli theatre, PAX aims to mobilize and activate young people in the south of Lebanon. The south of Lebanon is dominated by Hezbollah and is strongly influenced by the wars with Israel and the more recent war in Syria. Young people are being sent to Syria to partake in the fighting. These regional developments and the strongly divided internal dynamics in Lebanon cause a culture of violence and hatred. This violent context is being countered by Istanbouli Theatre. The theatre’s aim is to mobilize young people to take part in activities regarding theatre, music, photography and cinema and painting/drawing. Their goal is to provide alternative means to deal with violence and hatred
We provide research and monitoring in order to support Lebanese partners who lobby their government to change the country's legislation and to respect human rights. Over the years, our partners have become a voice that is heard. For instance, they enter into policy dialogue with the government about respecting the rights of Palestinian and Syrian refugees and about human rights issues such as unfair trials and torture.
The Activist Academy was organized from 9 till 12 April 2015 in Beirut. The aim was to use a new and innovative method to jointly develop creative direct actions related to a specific issue. In this case we worked together with a local partner, NAHNOO, on the importance of public space for a peaceful society. NAHNOO is a non-sectarian and nonpartisan youth-lead organization that aspires to provide a platform for young Lebanese to engage in activities that promote self-development and self-expression and that help to gain the skills necessary to meaningfully and peacefully contribute to their communities. Learn more about the Activist Academy.
In 2013, we started a project with ALEF (Association Libanaise pour l'Éducation et la Formation) that is aimed at conflict prevention in mixed villages with people from various socio-political backgrounds where the war in Syria is causing tension. By developing the skills of key figures in these communities and facilitating dialogue, we want to deal with conflict-related issues at an early stage and thereby prevent escalation.