Lebanon

Lebanon presents an interesting case when it comes to social policy. In fact, when the developmental state model was being implemented all over the world, Lebanon was adamant in its laissez-faire economy. The developmental state has brought about welfare regimes and what was called welfare states in advanced capitalist economies in Europe. In parallel, except for a few years, Lebanon has opted for minimal state intervention in public policy, and social protection in general. This has been exacerbated in the reconstruction period where the private sector and non-state actors dominated the realms of social services and protection, such as health and education. In recent years, and with social protection gaining momentum on the international level, the discussion on social protection and social security resurfaced in Lebanon. This has been accentuated as studies and reports on alarming poverty rates, inequality and unemployment in the country became recurrent.

Lebanon participated in the Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018, presented its progress report towards achieving sustainable development, and had its Q&A session on July 18th, 2018, at the UN Headquarters in New York.

These comments, drafted by a group of civil society organizations, are intended as a contribution to the dialogue on the harmony between Lebanon’s international com­mitments to international institutions and donors, on one hand, and the achievement of SDGs, social justice, and equal­ity, on the other.

The experience of Voluntary National Reviews and of Civil Society shadow (or spotlight) reporting.
How it is key for meaningful participation and accountability

The side event "SDG Implementation at National Level: What’s the Point of National Reports?" was held on July 17 in New York, during the meeting of the High Level Political Forum of the UN. The debate focused on voluntary national reports (VNRs) and parallel “shadow” or “spotlight” reports generated by civil society organizations (CSOs) on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Photo: UNHCR/F.Juez

Achieving sustainable development in Lebanon requires addressing the root causes of Lebanon’s structural problems at political, economic and social levels and, additionally, to address the challenges presented by the huge influx of Syrian refugees in the country. The refugee crisis sheds light on the structural and systemic problems of Lebanon and aggravates them. In this context, the private sector, as in many other countries, must play an active role in achieving SDGs in Lebanon, along with other development actors. At the same time, they all should remain accountable for their contribution to sustainable development.

A recently launched report by the Arab NGO Network for Development aims at defining the gender dimensions of informal labor in the region. The study on the gender dimensions of informal labor, written by Dr. Howaida Adly, Political Sciences Professor at the National Center for Sociological and Criminilogical Research (Egypt), focus on commonalities between all Arab countries in terms of labor and gender, and on the differences among them. The analysis is based on national reports received from the different Arab countries. A common limitation is that data is lacking to allow for a comprehensive assessment of the gender dimensions of informal labor.

The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) launched a book on the enabling environment of civil society in the Arab region. The publication aims to present an overview of the current situation of civil society organizations in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. It uses several country-specific indicators regarding the establishment of civil society organizations and their success. The current conflicts raging in the Arab region constitutes a serious challenge, especially in lack of attention to laws regarding the work of civil associations, in addition to the shifts faced in funding.

The publication highlights several legal challenges, especially those resulting from the lack of commitment to the principles of the separation of powers, as applied by democratic societies, as laws and regulations are often politicized. The book includes several recommendations to invigorate the work of civil society organizations in the regional, in order to consolidate the values of justice, equality, and sustainable development.

Following 8 days involving 43 Voluntary National reviews (VNR) and 147 side events with 77 ministry-level participations and 2458 registered stakeholder representatives, the statistical outlook of the 2017 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals is quite promising. It is only the second review and just two years after the kick-off for the implementation of a universal agenda towards leaving no-one behind. Yet, time is marching on and there is a long way to go on the level of implementation.

At the 2017 HLPF, Jordan became the third country from the Arab region to participate in the VNR process; following Egypt and Morocco in the 2016 review. The first words of Jordan’s national report made reference to the same issues: ‘the power of working together’ and taking into consideration ‘the urgent world issues’.

Global Spotlight Report says that the proposed “cascade” of private financing for infrastructure will result on more corruption, high fees for essential services, and massive resource transfers to the rich from the poor.

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