Report on Monitoring Civil Peace and Memory in Lebanon

The Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace has published the works of the Program 1999-2003 in a book (Antoine Messarra, dir., “Monitoring Civil Peace and Memory in Lebanon”, Beirut, the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace in cooperation with Ayia Napa Conferences Center and with the support of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation for the printing of the book, Librairie Orientale, 2004, 670 pages). 

Methodology Based on Two Elements

The seminar is the result of a methodology based on two elements:

1. Indicators of the coexistence pact: Around one hundred indicators were set up in order to study the regression, stability, or development of the very foundations of civil peace and collective memory.
2. Daily documentation and analysis: Documentation and analysis are made on a daily basis about all events, changes and facts namely in the media, political, social and cultural events.

The annual report of the Monitor is due out around the end of November 2004 based on the research, introduction and debates that took place at the sixth seminar at the Aya Napa Conferences Center (Cyprus).
The Nation, a Common Memory

Papers and debates in the sixth seminar focused on the following:

1. A general introduction of the subject: “The nation, a common memory” (Antoine Messarra); then an assessment of the Program’s foundations and methodology was made (Marie-Thérèse Khayr Badawi, Wasif Harakah, Ibrahim Traboulsi).
2. Monitoring events and data that occurred in 2004 in relation with civil peace and memory (Tony Atallah, Paul Murqus), with an international comparative approach (Walid Mubarak and Antoine Laham).
3. Reading what has been written about civil peace and memory (Haya Ziyade and Mona Nader).
4. The Lebanese Pact namely as concerns conflict regulation, settlement in participation-based regimes (Antoine Messarra, Walid Mubarak, Fadia Kiwan), with an account of the legal and judicial guarantees in building civil peace (Tariq Ziyade, Ibrahim Trabulsi, Wasif Harake).
5. The civil society’s immunity with an approach to the social dimensions in building immunity (Abdo Kahi, Muhammad Masri), the psychological dimensions (Marie-Thérèse Khayr Badawi ), the role of economic forces (Siham Bawwab) and the cultural dimensions (Antoine Sayf, Victor al-Kik, Zeina Mubarak, Liliane Nehme).

What Should Be Done?

One may deduce from the seminar the following:

1. The rule of law: One may notice a regression in the firm settling of the rule of law and the legal state in Lebanon. Article 49 of the Constitution concerning the presidential mandate was violated. However, we notice that pioneer judicial decisions are published as concerns the defense of public freedoms. These decisions must be backed up and be made known so that magistrates that are free to decide do not miss civil support.
2. Failed attempts aimed at sectarian division: Despite some negative elements, the Lebanese society today is greatly aware of its common daily interests, so much that attempts aimed at sectarian division as concerns vital issues have failed. Civil peace seems to be in god ‘health’ if it were not for the power’s negative interference.
3. Memory rituals and weak official means: There has been considerable progress in commemorating April 13 every year expressing national repentance with the aim to “Never Again” repeat the same mistakes. However, the official means used are weak namely as concerns the history curricula, which are still not used, though they are the result of collective work and have been published in the Gazette; in addition, the new civic education curricula are used in a spirit different than theirs.
4. The common space: Programs must be set up in order to raise public awareness, namely on a small scale; studies must be made in various specializations in terms of common public concern matters, in neighborhoods, villages, schools, universities, etc. Public concern matters help overcome traditional schisms, reduce conflicts and dependency that now belong to the past.