The Report shows that public authorities convey negative values and that common issues are related to communitarianism in order to create a blockage, favor some at the expense of others or make profit. The absence of the state of law – with the August 7, 2001 events – has a negative impact on participation and trust in the institutions. However, in 2002-2003 the society has shown more immunity and contrition – with the commemoration of April 13 – to any historical mechanism which may lead to yet another civil or internecine war.
The Programme as a permanent investigation and alert action-oriented institution meets a real need in Lebanon for the next twenty years namely for the rising Lebanese generation born after the war and after peace and did not know the historic experience of coexistence and democracy. An altered history of the 1975-1989 war may later be written by historians that may pertuate the war after the war. Is History a Human science as an academic category or is it human since it is about humans?
The Report is divided into three parts: assessing facts that harm civil peace, positive actions in favor of coexistence and action perspectives.
The Report underlines seven main facts:
1. Democratic dissatisfaction: Several surveys among which one carried out by the Programme “Monitoring Democracy in Lebanon” – Joseph and Laure Moghaizel Foundation in cooperation with the E.U. – show extreme democratic dissatisfaction which leads to frustration, lack of confidence and participation. Are the Lebanese orphans that have lost a symbolic father? Frustration is in fact latent and dormant violence awaiting institutional regulation.
2. Denial policy: Lebanon hasn’t yet been through its mourning phase of the 1975-1989 – still shyly referred to as the “events”. Some proposals have been made to officially commemorate April 13 as a national contrition Day, to build a war memorial for the casualties that are of all Lebanese communities, regions, political allegiances and non allegiances to tell about the shared pain and the cost of conflicts. These proposals have not been accepted so as not to “open old wounds”.
3. Regression of the State: Talk about national unity and integration hides a basic problem which is promoting public space, vital and common interests shared on a daily basis. This regression is obvious almost everywhere namely in the management of public funds and of administrations as public services. The so-called elected municipal councils reflect on a local level the centralized power without promoting local public debate around social problems. Unions, professional bodies, the Social and Economic Council, the media, etc. do not ensure public debate around general interest problems with a strategy based on listening abilities and participation.
4. Communitarian politization of cleavages: This politization gives any common interest issue a communitarian aspect in order to mobilize, create a blockage or make profit. Unions and parties draw back or become subordinates. Problems are not what they are anymore. Sporting events are given a communitarian aspect even if team members are both Christian and Muslim.
6. Intolerance among the young: Instances of fanaticism are namely due to partitioning within schools and universities and to world phenomena of withdrawal into one’s identity. It is a shame that interaction experiences such as the military service, inter-school and university exchange, the return of refugees, have not been studied. Still the phenomenon is not to be exaggerated because Lebanon remains, in the whole region, a privileged space of intense and daily dialogue.
7. Blockage of the new history curricula: The latter, set forth in 1996-2000 under the direction of Professor Mounir Abou Aslie are the fruit of broad consensus. They have however been blocked although approved of by virtue of a decree and published in the Gasette (no 27, June 22nd, 2000, pp. 2114-2195).
Contrition and intra-communitarian conflict
The Report underlines five positive points in the strengthening of civil peace culture:
- The commemoration – more of a contrition – of April 13;
- The strongly established Lebanese constitutional heritage despite erratic governance;
- The predominance of intra-communitarian, family and tribal competition rather than inter-communitarian (the case of the Metn is one in point);
- The programmes undertaken by the State Ministry for Administrative Reform since minister Fouad al-Sa’d has been in change until this day – administrative information, charts of the citizen, etc. – and those undertaken by NGOs involved in human Rights issues, freedom and public debate;
- The fact that Lebanon is no longer exploited by foreign parties to induce regional change. Lebanon remains however the hostage of regional conflict.
Culture and memories for the future
The Report puts forward ten action perspectives:
1. Establishing the rites of national commemoration and contrition: These rites should be spread to all mohafazat; a museum should be set up to show, among others, the huge banner signed on July 27, 1988 by tens of thousands of Lebanese as a “peace Treaty”; a war memorial should be set up in downtown Beirut in memory of all that have died…
2. Assessment of all works about war: This assessment is currently underway within the Programme “Monitoring Civil Peace” with a view to publish an “Anthology of Lebanon’s other face” in the style of Alexandre Najjar’s “L’Ecole de la guerre”, Tracy Chamoun’s autobiography “Au nom du père” and Lamia el-Saad’s “Le bonheur bleu”.
3. Crossing out some words and concepts: Some words and expressions– communitarianism, national reconciliation, national dialogue, etc. – are not always as innocent as they seem. They lead to polemics that are often programmed.
4. Implementing the new history curricula: This implementation should be in conformity with the spirit of the curricula that were established based on broad consensus.
5. Calling things and people by their name: Continuous criticism against the “State” is often a way to avoid determining who’s responsible: such and such ministry or minister, such and such municipal council, etc.
If a municipal civil servant fails to do his job, the “State”, the national pact, etc. are at fault. If nepotism prevails, it is the constitutional regime of the 2nd Republic of Ta’if that is at fault! Good governance and its procedures are drowned in general and ambiguous complaints as to the Pact and the Constitution. Such practices that avoid to put any blame on local politicians do not favor transparency and good governance.
6. Continuous strong civic action: Recent and comparative experiences namely that of Leoluca Orlands in Palermo (Italy) have shown the odds civil resistance has against the mafia. Orlando shows that civic action cannot draw back and that “civil society should be informed and given high spirits”. The Report quotes the Rahbanis play “ya’ish ya’ish” (1969): “Children have to grow: they can’t wait for a government”.
7. Military service: Experiences within military service must be analysed in order to deduce which practices strengthen Lebanese social interaction among the young generation.
8. Promoting local public debate and an autonomy – based culture: This debate, especially on the municipal level, would renew the population’s trust and empower them. Nepotism and politization that exploits communities are a threat to civil peace. The media should be used to fight back – instead of showing receptions, official life, etc. Television debates – real ones – should be organized for viewers that can respond.
9. Reconciling religions and international human Rights charts: One way of fighting off fanaticism and withdrawal into one’s identity in the name of religion is by promoting the commitment of religious authorities with human Rights charts. A programme is carried out in this sense by the Middle-East Council of Churches 2001-2004.
10. Cultural foundations of foreign policy: Lebanon’s vision of is difficult geopolitical position and its regional Arab role are governed by ideologies and historical residues. If we highly fear the repercussions of any regional conflict on Lebanon it is because Lebanon needs to develop cautious foreign relations both isolationist and progressive: isolationist to preserve the internal coexistence pact, and progressive when it comes to Lebanon’s international and Arab role. We need to root out the “plot” theory in our representation of foreign policy and about any international event.
To conclude, the Report shows that a real “renaissance” has always been cultural. Sudden and violent revolutions have strengthened major democratic principles only after a hard and patient cultural process.