After the end of the civil war, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung complemented its prior work on socio-economic topics with questions concerning the peaceful coexistence of the different Lebanese religious entities in one unified state. Believing in the importance of cross-confessional organizing, FES is committed to, in close collaboration with partners in civil society, media, academia, and political groups, contesting the influence of religious identities within state affairs and pushing for a secular opinion formation.
Aiming to transform political discussions from sectarian to content-oriented policy change, FES pushes, along with its local partners, towards a national discourse on social justice, workers’ rights, feminism, inclusion, and secularism. Rather than be passive observers, citizens should hold decision makers accountable and push for their demands.
Areas of interest include labor unions, personal status laws, women’s rights and participation, and secular progressive political groups.
Lebanon is a country largely dominated by the centrality of its capital Beirut, especially on economic and political levels. This center-periphery discrepancy is manifested in political marginalization and socioeconomic underdevelopment, clearly highlighted for example in the cities of Tripoli and Baalbek. The competition over central state resources by sectarian parties has also resulted in a barely functional consociational system with severe constraints of democratic processes.
In an effort to push for more local control over decision-making and administering of resources, FES cooperates with initiatives focused on decentralization, local governance models, participatory decision making, and community involvement.