The School of Arts & Sciences

Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution


ISJCR Secures Major Carnegie Grant for Research Project on Resilience and Inclusive Governance

posted on 22/06/2020

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The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) in LAU’s School of Arts and Sciences has received a $500,000 grant from Carnegie Corporation New York for a research project on resilience and inclusive governance in the Middle East.

The project, in collaboration with LAU New York Headquarters and Academic Center (LAU NY) and the Arab Institute for Women (AiW), will focus on Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan as primary cases, and on Libya and Yemen as secondary cases.

Resilience is “understood as the ability of societies and individuals to manage shocks, develop robustness and face crises and threats … And all literature written about resilience in the Middle East has been framed in a Western context,” said Principal investigator and ISJCR Director Tamirace Fakhoury.

Dr. Fakhoury, who is associate professor of political science and international affairs, explained: “This project will help build literature that shows how resilience in the Middle East is perceived by scholars, practitioners, activists, teachers and health specialists from the region itself.”

The project will focus on two concepts – resilience and inclusive governance – and how they interconnect.

“Resilience is correlated with more mechanisms that allow the active participation of all citizens,” she said. “It can only be robust when individuals partake in and steer the decisions that govern them.”

This very notion is shaken in the selected countries where issues of trust, governance and resilience are at the heart of national debates. Even more so in Lebanon, as the country plunges into an economic collapse and endures the crippling impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Co-principal investigator and Associate Professor of Political Science Bassel Salloukh said the research project aims to “problematize and interrogate” questions pertinent to understanding resilience and whether or not it is always a good thing.

“When we speak about resilience in Lebanon, who’s resilience are we talking about?” he asked. “Is it the sectarian state and its complex clientelist networks? Sectarian communities and sectarian political parties?”

If the answer is yes, he continued, then “is the resilience of these actors something that we want to celebrate?”

“And if the sectarian system is so resilient, then what are the consequences of the current overlapping fiscal and monetary crises on prospects for political change in Lebanon?”

Lebanon is facing overlapping crises that “will probably cost the country at least a lost decade and a whole generation if not more,” he warned. It is immersed in a policy debate as to what kind of Lebanon the people want to see emerge in the next decades, he said.

“Which classes and sectors should pay the greatest price for the mess that we find ourselves in? What kind of political economy do we want to assemble in the process? And whose socioeconomic interests should this political economy serve?”

“These are not technical or technocratic choices. They are deeply political ideological choices, with direct implications for any prospects for political change,” he added.

The study will aim to get answers to such questions from activists, practitioners, grassroot NGOs, health specialists, social workers, and scholars from the region. Online commentaries and thought pieces about the meaning of society, state and individual resilience will help produce new knowledge about the concept. To generate knowledge about resilience and inclusive governance, deliberative methods allowing various stakeholders to meet and discuss complex issues will be adopted, clarified Dr. Fakhoury.  

She added that the project will target critical junctures including economic meltdowns, the COVID-19 pandemic and recent protests.

Two LAU experts, LAU NY Executive Director Nadim Shehadi and Myriam Sfeir, director of the AiW, are also joining hands by overseeing their respective tracks.

As an academic institution, LAU can contribute to crucial national debates of the kind. And, as far as Lebanon is concerned, to “the difficult but inescapable choices that will shape the emergence of a new Lebanon, one that will be radically different than the one created 100 years ago,” Dr. Salloukh said.

In 2017, the ISJCR and AiW secured a grant from Carnegie for research on inclusive governance and transnational social movements in the Arab world.

Migration and Development in the Arab Region

posted on 23/03/2020

By Christelle Barakat

The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) has organized a lecture on Migration and Development in the Arab Region, by UNESCWA Regional Advisor on Population Affairs Sara Salman, and in collaboration with the MEPI TLG Program.

Dr. Salman drew on her expertise in migration and populations and talked about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), their linkages to migration, global migration frameworks, and migration from and to the Arab region, including remittances and policies.

She first spoke about the social, economic, environment, cultural, and political dimensions of development. She went on to state that these dimensions formed the 5Ps of the 2030 Agenda: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership.

Further speaking on the SDGs, she defined the 2030 Agenda as encompassing a set of 17 goals and 169 targets, which in turn have indicators to monitor progress. She stressed that SDGs are more interlinked than MDGs and are dedicated to leaving no one behind. In other words, the 2030 Agenda aims to give special attention to vulnerable communities, including migrants and refugees.

Dr. Salman defined international migration by fleshing out the various dilemmas surrounding it as there is no unified definition, particularly when it comes to “forced migration”.

“If someone goes to visit their sister abroad for three months, does that mean that they are a migrant? Or is the person having a refugee stamp the only one categorized as refugee?” she asked.

She then drew linkages along with the students between migrants and the SDGs seeing that “migration is not solely about crossing a border or getting on a boat or plane. It is about all SDGs and dimensions.”

She then brainstormed about the exclusion of migrants, which can be seen through them not being allowed to work, movement limitations, xenophobia, separation from host communities, and lack of access to services.

Speaking from her work experience in aiding governments reform their policies and mainstream migration, Dr. Salman stated that governments often face the issue of not knowing where to start when tackling migration because it is cross-sectional in nature. She also added that governments have an equal responsibility towards both citizens and non-citizens.

When talking about irregular migration which she deemed as being “bleaker and blacker” than regular migration because an informal person lives in the shadow and may be exploited or face social issues and jail, Dr. Salman relayed SDG 10 on Reduced Inequalities, particularly target 10.7 which aims to “facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”

Answering the question “why do we care about migrants?” Dr. Salman first provided definitions for ‘forced migration’, ‘labor migration’, and ‘mixed migration’, before relaying data and factual statistics. “Mixed migration is fluid and politically charged. Imagine large groups of people who have moved together regularly or irregularly, using different types and means of transportation. Students, poor people, people who are well-off in terms of income, and many more,” she said.

In 2017, she said, Arab countries hosted 38 million migrants. This was a significant increase from the 14 millions in 1990. Furthermore, 29 million people migrated from the region, half of which migrated within the region.

“Women overall constituted 33 percent of all migrants, either seeking family reunification or escaping their husbands and gender-based violence such as trafficking and harassment,” she explained.

“Nevertheless, women migrants should not solely be painted from a victim’s perspective as they do bring a lot to the table in the positive sense,” she added.

In conclusion, Dr. Salman said that being strategic in doing migration work is essential. In other words, priorities should be set and then delved into.

“When doing development work, one should measure progress in baby steps and keep an eye on the bigger picture because change does not happen overnight. Rather, development is the accumulation of baby steps that lead to change,” she said.

ISJCR organizes workshop on transnational movements and inclusionary states

posted on 01/10/2019


The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict resolution organized a one-day workshop as part of the Inclusive Governance Project, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The workshop gathered academics and policy experts from the Middle East, Europe and North America to discuss a host of challenges facing post-uprisings Arab states and societies, under the theme Challenges of Transnational Movements and Inclusionary States. It was held in collaboration with George Washington University’s Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS).

Associate Professor of Political Science Bassel Salloukh said the workshop focused especially on “how to achieve true reconciliation, prosperity, and justice, how to ameliorate and reverse the present wave of sectarianization, and how local and transnational non-state actors are changing the domestic and geopolitical landscape in the Arab world.”

The participants discussed the role of political and institutional engineering in promoting reconciliation and inclusion in postwar deeply divided places, the role of socio-economic policies in promoting the participation of marginalized gender, ethnic, sectarian, or tribal groups; and the impacts of armed non-state actors on post-uprising Arab states.

LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra described the workshop as a timely event in light of the major challenges the Arab region is currently facing.

“The Arab states are in disarray and dare I say that the Arab state in the full sense of the term no longer exists,” he said.

“It’s been hijacked by either ideological, religious, military or clusters of corrupt people who are in charge of the state, or the state has been controlled by outside forces and by outside actors, or in the final analysis a combination of the two.”

In view of such a volatile climate, Dr. Jabbra continued, the ultimate goal for political scientists is to “build a program that can help local political scientists to have what it takes and what is needed in order to address the monumental challenges that the Arab states are facing in the present time.”

Echoing Dr. Jabbra’s stance, ISJCR Director Tamirace Fakhoury said the meeting presented a “a much-awaited milestone in the two-year trajectory of the project on inclusive governance,” which is led by Dr. Salloukh.

She said that the collaboration with POMEPS “promises to change the scholarly and policy conversation on ways to promote a reconciliation and inclusion in the Middle East post-uprisings landscape.”

The ISJCR provides an ideal setting for such as a conversation, she said, explaining that the institute seeks to carve itself as “a scholarly and policy hub where multiple audiences, stakeholders, and public and policy spheres are invited to reflect and deliberate on governance processes and conceptions of social justice at the heart of the Arab region.”

POMEPS founder and director Marc Lynch said that one of POMEPS’ highest priorities is to “build meaningful collaborations with institutions in the region and scholars from the region and to deal with the most important issues facing the region today.”

The participants are expected to submit policy briefs that will be disseminated on POMEPS and ISJCR websites in both Arabic and English.


Identity, Immigration and the Rise of Populism in Europe

posted on 21/05/2019



Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of East London Branislav Radeljić gave a lecture on the rise of populism in Europe, contextualizing it in a post-World War II framework.

The event was organized by LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) and the Department of Social Sciences and attended by students and faculty, including department Chair Marwan Rowayheb, ISJCR Associate Director Sami Baroudi and Director of the Institute for Migration Studies Paul Tabar.  

ISJCR Director Tamirace Fakhoury said the seminar, which took place on the Beirut campus, shed light on a very timely and relevant phenomenon at the heart of societal and policy debates.

“Will the rise of European right-wing parties endanger the project of the European Union which rests on principles of solidarity and pooled sovereignty?” asked Dr. Fakhoury, who is also associate professor of Political Science and International Affairs.

Highlighting the importance of historical dynamics, Dr. Radeljić began the seminar by unpacking the notions of identity and immigration. He underlined that since the beginning of the European integrationist project, many have viewed the question of immigration as a challenge to European identity and overall unity.

“European otherness, and primarily the presence of Muslims in Western Europe, continued to encourage debates regarding the capacity of immigrants to integrate and become part of the mainstream society,” he said.

He added that the complex perspective of “us” versus the “other” is “more accentuated in times of economic and political crises,” with representatives of both the left and right trying to revamp their agendas and secure additional votes.

Dr. Radeljić argued that the rise of populism placed immigration and European identity at the forefront of policy-making considerations, with a clear preference for the intergovernmental approach to the European Union. At the same time, he noted that current skepticism has put the glorified notions of European tolerance and solidarity to the test.

Wrapping up his talk, Dr. Radeljić borrowed from Jacques Derrida’s L’Autre Cap saying, “Europe advances and promotes itself as an advance, and it will never seize to make advances on the other: to induce, seduce, produce, and conduce, to spread out, to cultivate, to love or to violate, to colonize and to colonize itself.”

ISJCR’s first online seminar tackles democratic remittances

posted on 23/04/2019


By Christelle Barakat

The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR), in collaboration with the Department of Social Sciences, held its first online seminar titled Democratic Remittances: Mapping Out a Multi-Layered Perspective on April 10.  

The event featured Senior Lecturer at the University of Freiburg Stefan Rother, who talked extensively about research in the new and under-researched field of democratic remittances.

In her opening speech, ISJCR Director Tamirace Fakhoury drew a new line of thought related to remittances through the addition of an immaterial layer that of democracy and politics. She emphasized the importance of exploring ideas, norms, and values that migrants diffuse transnationally, and how these “ideational transfers” emphasize processes of politics on the ground.            

For his part, Dr. Rother said that “while it was generally common to speak of tangible, material remittances of an economic nature, the concept of intangible and immaterial remittances was controversial.” He added that theorists on political and democratic remittances were being accused of “overstretching the conceptualization of remittances.”

He stressed the importance of research on democratic remittances in relation to the literature, reaffirming that development is more than economic in nature: It is also about individuals, human development and democracy.

Dr. Rother then outlined the multi-layered interaction between migration and democratization and spoke of the need to look at actors within each level.

“We cannot look into the minds of people and it is indeed hard to check for causality, but what we can do is look at ideas and the practices of diffusion along with the utilization of resources.”     

When it comes to the research approach, Dr. Rother advised a mixed method approach bridging between quantitative and qualitative methods of research. Acknowledging that correlations and quantification were important, however, field work and interaction with migrant stakeholders provide more in-depth insights into their thinking, reasoning and actions.

Dr. Rother’s work therefore focuses on investigating the political space of migrants for engagement, by examining the individual and collective liberties of migrants.         

He presented a mapping showing how political remittances can take various forms – letters or phone calls – used by migrants to report their experiences within the country of destination. “Overall, ideas in this sense travel from the country of destination to the country of origin, politically awakening the populations within the country of origin,” he said.

In addition to democratic remittances, Dr. Rother spoke of authoritarian remittances giving the example of Pilipino migrants in Saudi Arabia, who are seeking stability and welfare benefits enjoyed by Saudi citizens. Furthermore, he argued that linkages between economic and political remittances could speed up the process of diffusion and politicization.  

Concluding in lecture, Dr. Rother called for migrants to be represented at the tables of conversation, saying that “everybody affected by a policy should have a say in that policy.”       

Beyond Humanitarianism Paradigm: The Effect of Displacement on Religious Authorities

posted on 10/04/2019


By Fidaa Al Fakih

LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) and the Department of Social Sciences hosted a seminar on “The Displacement of Religious Authorities from Syria and their Involvement in Aid Provision: Looking beyond Humanitarianism.”

The cross-campus seminar was based on the preliminary findings of Research Associate at University College London Estella Carpi.

Welcoming the attendees, moderator and ISJCR Director and Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Tamirace Fakhoury said the seminar sheds light on the under-researched topic of “how the displacement from Syria has affected religious authorities and how religious authorities have had to reinvent their mission and involvement in aid provision.”

Dr. Carpi then kicked off the seminar by explaining that the field research she has been conducting in Lebanon is part of a much broader project with Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh of University College London under the framework of “south–south humanitarianism.” The research, she said, looks at southern agents of aid provision, particularly faith leaders or religious authorities who try to help their own displaced communities.

Dr. Carpi’s presentation built on her extensive research on faith-based organizations working in the Syria neighborhood, including her engagement with Syrian refugee faith leaders in Lebanon. “I relied on self-accounts of personal experiences in aid provision to the displaced communities once Syrian faith leaders became refugees themselves,” she said.

Dr. Carpi then mapped a geography of displaced religious authorities following their physical trajectories outside of Syria. She also focused on how displacement from war, violence and persecution reconfigures their spiritual role and their social status within receiving societies. By doing so, Dr. Carpi captured how the spiritual mission of such religious leaders changes in response to their own refugee status and their intent to provide aid, support and solidarity to the displaced communities.

Concluding the seminar, Dr. Fakhoury and Chair of the Social Sciences Department Marwan Rowayheb thanked Dr. Carpi for uncovering concepts of humanitarianism that shed light on new actors often overlooked by researchers when studying Syrian refugee challenges in neighboring host societies.

Dr. Rowayheb encouraged Dr. Carpi to account for the structural differences in the nature of the religious establishments in Lebanon, and to examine the competition between Lebanese religious authorities and displaced Syrian faith leaders that in some instances trigger sensitivities.

LAU Institute Wins Grant for Research Project

posted on 21/03/2019


LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) has won a grant from the European research program Horizon 2020 to participate in the Migration Governance and Asylum Crises (MAGYC) project.

“The project is about how migration governance has been influenced by the current refugee crisis and how crises at large shape policy responses on migration,” said ISJCR Director and Project Investigator in Lebanon Tamirace Fakhoury.

The 3.2 million euro, four-year project – funded by the European Commission – is led by the Hugo Observatory at the University of Liege in Belgium and involves 13 partners from Europe, Lebanon and Turkey, including the School of Oriental and African Studies-University of London, Sciences Po in France, and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

LAU’s participation in the project Migration and Asylum Governance Through Times of Crises: Continuity and Changes in The Governance Configuration will be headed by Dr. Fakhoury. In this framework, Dr. Fakhoury will undertake a case study analysis on multi-level migration governance in the Middle East and its implications for resilience and outcomes on mobility.

“Our contribution consists of exploring how the EU has governed the refugee crisis in Syria’s vicinity by linking trade and refugee employment, for example, or through the Madad Trust Fund, and how it has juxtaposed its humanitarian and resilience approach in order to support refugees and host communities,” Dr. Fakhoury said of the project’s scope.

The case study that ISJCR will conduct “tracks shifting governance modes from pre-crisis mobility to post-crisis resilience,” and will contribute to understanding “how bilateral agreements and priority actions such as the compacts negotiated between the EU, Lebanon and Jordan shed light on the dynamics and metrics of multi-levelling in governance.”

At a time when migration and refugee policies are heavily contested across European member states and in the broader international community, the “project is critically important to improve our understanding of how migration policies are formulated and shaped by the context of the crisis,” noted Dr. Fakhoury.

Commenting on the significance of this project for LAU, Dr. Fakhoury added that “LAU’s participation in H2020 EU projects is of crucial importance to consolidating synergies with professional and scholarly communities on the other side of the Mediterranean, and positioning universities in Lebanon as key platforms for knowledge production and applied research.” 

Lebanon’s Economy – What’s Wrong and How Do We Fix It?

posted on 13/03/2019


Carving a presence for itself as a hub for scholarship and policy-making, LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) organized a roundtable discussion on Lebanon’s socio-economic challenges as part of its Transnational Movements and Inclusionary State project, which was launched in 2017 with a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The roundtable, moderated by the project’s Lebanon Lead Researcher Dr. Khalil Gebara, is part of a series of similar events held to review researchers’ findings on the countries covered by the project, namely Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq.

The Lebanon project covers three themes: economic challenges, elections and electoral laws, and the role of non-state actors. At the project’s conclusion, the lead researchers will present their findings to activists, politicians and academics, and will submit a report incorporating recommendations and feedback from the meetings.

Tackling Lebanon’s economic challenges, Jeremy Arbid, former economics and policy editor at Executive Magazine, presented his paper “Lebanon in the Digital Era” to a gathering of experts including Wissam Harake of the World Bank, Executive Magazine Editor-in-Chief Yasser Akkaoui, Roy Badaro, economic advisor to the president of the Lebanese Forces Party, Byblos Bank’s Chief Economist Nassib Ghobril, Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development Ziad Abdel Samad, Bankmed Chief Economist Mazen Soueid, and Sami Nader, director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs (LISA).

Also present at the meeting were LAU Associate Professor of Political Science Bassel Salloukh, who is the project’s current principal investigator, Associate Professor of Economics Walid Marrouch and Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Jeffrey G. Karam.

Welcoming the participants, ISJCR Director and Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Tamirace Fakhoury noted that the roundtable provides the ideal setting for such conversations, “where multiple stakeholders are invited to deliberate on governance processes and conceptions of social justice at the heart of the Arab region.”

Kicking off the session, Arbid, who is the co-founder of the non-profit Lebanese Oil and Gas Initiative, offered a compelling perspective on Lebanon’s challenges and provided straightforward recommendations on how to address them.

In his presentation, he said that now that there is a new government in place in Lebanon, the country has to “to develop a more peaceful and prosperous society,” the starting point of which would be to adopt “the measures promised at CEDRE, advised by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and recommended by international organizations to correct for nearly two decades of inactivity or non-decision making by the state.”

During the CEDRE conference, which took place in 2018 in Paris, international donors had pledged more than $11 billion in aid, in return for Lebanon’s commitment to reforms. That same year, the McKinsey consultancy firm was hired to come up with a plan to boost productive sectors in the country.

However, Arbid added, “beyond correcting the omissions of the last 20 to 25 years, Lebanon must also pursue solutions aligned with the emerging digital future [that is] sure to arrive within the next decades.”

Dr. Fakhoury interjected to remark that while technical advice to address Lebanon’s problems is important, “it is impossible to ignore the nexus between Lebanon’s economic challenges and its geopolitical realities, as well as how its political economy is tightly linked to the politics of sectarianism.”

For his part, Dr. Salloukh noted that the roundtable clearly showed the level of divisions in Lebanese society. “In Lebanon there is no agreement on what caused the economic mess we are in and what is the best way forward,” he said, adding, “We have failed to separate between our political and ideological affiliations and a rational diagnosis of what has led us to where we are and what is the best way forward.”

However, this schism, he pointed out, is precisely where educational institutions such as LAU have a role to play through policy outreach.

“Universities don’t exist on an island. We are a reflection of the society that we are in, and what the roundtable tried to do is to create a space for a polite conversation about otherwise deeply divisive issues,” he said.

“This is what a university like LAU should do: It should present itself as a space where people can debate issues in a very civil but critical manner.”

The Treasure Trove of Declassified Documents

posted on 26/11/2018


Information is power, and there is a veritable treasure trove of data that researchers from different disciplines can access – once they know how.

To that end, Dr. Jeffrey G. Karam at the Department of Social Sciences – who joined LAU as assistant professor of Political Science and International Affairs in fall 2018 – in collaboration with the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution organized a workshop on navigating declassified archival sources for social research, with an emphasis on US diplomatic and intelligence records. Students, faculty, and staff from LAU and Notre Dame University were in attendance at the event on LAU’s Beirut campus.

Hosting the workshop, Dr. Karam mentioned that the main purpose of this active learning event is to highlight the value of archival records as primary sources for social science research. “We want to encourage interdisciplinary research and to bridge disciplinary boundaries,” he said, “especially as we are heading toward a much more interconnected and globalized world of higher education.”

The session also corresponds to LAU’s Third Strategic Plan, which stresses the need for collaborative work across various departments and disciplines, he added.

The 32 participants received a hands-on experience in sifting through and analyzing declassified archival records to learn more about decision-making in US foreign policy circles.

Dr. Karam kicked off the session with a detailed explanation of archives and how best to explore and extrapolate from them. He then moved on to active-learning exercises, wherein attendees sifted through authentic declassified US diplomatic and intelligence records, as well as reports and memoranda of conversations between leaders in Washington. All of the documents pertained to the beginning of the Lebanese civil war in 1975.

“I found that analyzing the contents of US records, particularly declassified documents, was an eye-opener for me,” said international affairs graduate student Rachel Makdessy. “It provided me with a broader outlook on the nature of foreign relations as a whole while simultaneously revealing the influence of perceptions on foreign policy and decision-making,” she added.

International affairs graduate student Nicholas Maalouf found the workshop pivotal to him “as a researcher and as an LAU student since no other workshop was conducted on such a topic and in such a professional manner before.”

LAU Professor of Political Science Sami Baroudi described the workshop as a major eye-opener and fascinating field of US archival documents. 

“As a seasoned faculty, it reinforced my conviction that contributing to the field requires going beyond books, articles and stories in newspapers to examine primary sources, in this case declassified governmental records,” he said. 

“When intelligently used, the information gleaned from these records can be instrumental in corroborating or challenging existing accounts of events,” Dr. Baroudi added. “Even when not repudiating existing accounts, tapping these sources will enrich our understanding of various subtleties and nuances.”

Toward Inclusive Governance

posted on 28/06/2018


LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) organized a two-day meeting of experts and advocates for inclusive governance in Arab States, under the patronage of keynote speaker MP Bahia Hariri on June 21 in Beirut.

In October of last year, the Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded LAU a grant to support research on transnational social movements and gender policies to be conducted by ISJCR and the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW). The ISJCR project includes regional participants from Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon in a bid to develop a transnational network of advocates seeking to promote pluralism and inclusive governance.

The panel discussion on Challenges and Opportunities for Inclusive States in the Arab Region, held at the Adnan Kassar School of Business, included more than 20 academicians, experts, policy leaders and civil society activists from Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon.

Speaking at the forum’s opening session, LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra said that while the “breathtaking technological developments have brought down the walls of separation,” they also exposed major differences “within countries and in between countries.”

Expressing his regret that these differences have occurred in various parts of the world, including ours, he asked how we might convert them “into positive differences to bring different communities, be they religious or socio-economic, to listen to each other and realize that we are all human beings.”

Dr. Jabbra thanked the Carnegie Corporation of New York for their support, and ISJCR for initiating “critical research that unites us scholars, experts and educators, in order to make sure that our differences are bridged, and our communities brought together in a pluralistic society.”

For his part, ISJCR Director Dr. Imad Salamey said that the ultimate aim of the gathering was “to initiate and expand a regional forum of experts that would incubate a policy hub, providing research and recommendations to help policy leaders and decision makers mitigate emerging challenges for inclusive governance.”

In welcoming Hariri, Dr. Salamey described the minister as a champion of “building bridges across confessional and political divides while advancing Lebanon’s solidarity and support to all Arab causes.”

Hariri thanked Dr. Jabbra and Dr. Salamey, and expressed her appreciation for all involved in launching this initiative, which, she said, “carries many themes that deserve expanding and in-depth discussion.” Social justice, she added, was paramount to conflict resolution and a main driving force for “renaissance and advancement.”

Defining true governance as one with “clarity, precision, transparency and responsibility,” Hariri invited the participants to examine it within the context of Lebanon’s experience since 1948, from “the challenges posed by the Palestinian cause to those posed by the Syrian cause and their impact on the Lebanese national experience, at the governmental, economic and social levels, in all its successes and failures.”

Data and findings from the forum will be stored in an online database, and made available to policy leaders and scholars for their research on inclusive governance and challenges, revealed Dr. Salamey.

“Preliminary mapping by our lead researchers in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon have already been compiled and bring us important findings regarding the challenges and opportunities for inclusive governance common to all three countries,” he added.

He reiterated ISJCR’s commitment to raising awareness and advocating for “positive policy change in the Arab region, as improving the state of inclusive governance is considered among its priorities.”

Senior Granted Fulbright Scholarship

posted on 08/05/2018


When Rayan Deeb applied for the Fulbright Scholarship, she knew exactly which career she wanted to pursue: international development. Recently, the political science and international affairs senior was granted the prestigious scholarship to work toward a Master in Development Practice at the University of Minnesota beginning in the fall of 2018.

Deeb’s experience at LAU’s Department of Social Sciences had helped her decide her path. “The courses that are given in my major allow students to become aware of the different career options they have,” she said, referring to the diverse fields offered in the program. “The combination of a major in political science and international affairs and a minor in economics made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in international development.”

That is precisely the goal of the program at LAU, according to Department of Social Sciences Chair Marwan Rowayheb. “The political science/international affairs program prepares students for careers in international relations,” he explained, “providing them with the tools and skills to help in solving social, economic and political problems that are faced by many countries all around the globe.”

The Fulbright Scholarship is an exclusive merit-based grant that provides funding for graduate-level studies at universities in the United States. The program selects between 12 and 15 Lebanese students each year.

Students accepted into the program are required to complete a 10-week “international field experience” during the summer between the two years of the program, which includes cross-cultural training and professional work, according to Fulbright.

Hands-on experience is not new to Deeb. She is already an active part of LAU’s campus life as a member of several student clubs and activities. While studying, she also interned through LAU as a writer at the English-language The Daily Star newspaper and was a regular blogger as well.

“In my undergraduate years, LAU regularly sent internship opportunities and encouraged me to start training,” she said, noting how important interning is to learn first-hand about “soft skills” and how offices function.

She has also been involved in LAU’s simulation programs as a trainer at high schools through the Global Classrooms-LAU Model United Nations (MUN). She accompanied the LAU MUN delegation to Rome in 2016 and was selected as the assistant chair of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at the Harvard World MUN in Montreal in 2017.

Such rich experiences helped Deeb become more focused and confident of her education and career priorities. “I have also been exposed to different cultures and worldviews, which encouraged me to apply to universities abroad,” she added.

This fall, she will begin her graduate work on the Minneapolis campus at the University of Minnesota, which is a major research institution and considered one of America’s “Public Ivy” universities.

Activist Manal Omar Discusses Inclusivity, Pluralism and Women's Empowerment

posted on 01/12/2017


Knowing ourselves and respecting others brings us power as women. That is one of the messages U.S.-based Palestinian activist and author Manal Omar conveyed to her audience during her graduate seminar “Middle Eastern Topics on Pluralism and Inclusive State,” held on LAU’s Beirut campus on November 10. Omar, former associate vice president for the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), is also founder and CEO of Crossing Red Lines, an organization that seeks to empower female leaders by helping them understand their sexual energy within an Islamic framework.

Sponsored by the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution, the talk aimed to bring students “a gender perspective on inclusion provided by a distinguished expert and practitioner,” said Imad Salamey, associate professor of Political Science and International Affairs and associate chair at the Department of Social Sciences.

Omar said that the goal of her talk “is to get women back to their own intuition and discernment. We have built in our bodies great intuition, and we are taught to override it with strategy.”

“It’s like breaking that barrier,” she added. “When you are not afraid to be strong, but also recognize that there is a lot of strength in the feminine.”

The attendees from diverse backgrounds, like Omar, included women from Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon, and were asked to use their experiences in their home countries to understand how, as future researchers and activists, they can make a difference at the grassroots level.

Participant involvement was high. “When you try to talk to women about their rights and they themselves do not accept that they actually have rights, how do you motivate them?” asked participant Mona Saeed, who comes from Yemen.

Omar advised Saeed to look beyond the obvious and to dig deeper for a reason that is holding those women back. “Human beings are wired for self-protection,” she explained. “Help them see that they are in a place of safety.” Furthermore, Omar pointed out that people in conflict are usually more concerned about having food on the table than pursuing their rights.

At one point, the discussion veered toward the shifting relationship between citizens and states. “This is significant for pluralism and diversity, because when people don’t trust their government they go sub-culture, sub-identity. They turn to their community for protection,” Omar said. As a result, multiple identities begin to emerge and “become really powerful, and they start demanding representation.”

Omar believes part of the solution is pursuing full inclusivity and diversity. She called for a social contract that everyone can agree to. “The framework is not important; it really is about how we live and operate together that is important, whether it is within an Islamic or secular framework.”

The Middle East region, she noted, has never been limited to a single ethnicity or religion — “This is the cradle of civilization,” she reminded the audience.

For Lebanon, she advocated a “more value-based, rather than sectarian-based, social contract that can feed into the national dialogue process.”

Among other ideas discussed was whether the presence of women in parliament or government necessarily meant the advancement of women’s rights. In response, first-year graduate student Maya Fawwaz, who works with a campaign called “Not the Cost” to support women, asked, “How do you work on empowering women to include them more in politics?”

“Quota is not the final solution,” Omar said. “A lot of times, organizations get so focused on training parliamentarians for the quota that they don’t necessarily look at the women’s rights angle.”

Although seeing a woman in a powerful position sends a positive message to young women, it is just as important to have dedicated and passionate “women’s rights defenders — and that is not only women, it can be men as well, and that training is different.”

Omar said her work focuses on getting women who are already parliamentarians or NGO directors to the next level of leadership through exercises that help them understand their needs and concerns as well as those of women in general.


Professor Chahine Ghais Speaks about Pluralist State

posted on 12/10/2017


The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution hosted distinguished guest speaker Professor of International Relations at NDU Dr. Chahine Ghais, to address the dilemma of pluralism and governance in the MENA region.  Dr. Ghais discussed his latest publication “Resolving Identity Conflict in the Middle East: A Theoretical Understanding” which is a chapter in the book “Post-Conflict Power-Sharing Agreements.” Dr. Ghais generously presented his theoretical chapter on identity politics in which he defines the terms identity, politics, interests, and nation-state system to explain the “impulse” behind identity groups claiming a right to establish their own nations. The example upon which these concepts are projected is the Syrian crisis and the possible solutions that exist to solve the identity conflict taking place (a power-sharing system that provides all groups with equal representation). Dr. Ghais also mentioned the tension between two crucial concepts in the international system today: sovereignty of recognized states and the right of self-determination of possible nations. The question is: which overrides the other and when does a distinct group qualify for the right of self-determination. These and other concepts were dissected in an interactive discussion that aimed at understanding key factors that might “make or break a pluralistic state” – such as Syria. The presentation was followed by an enriching Q&A session that shed light on issues of the partitioning of Syria, the execution of a federal system to solve the conflict of pluralism, different power-sharing models, and the belonging of the individual to a nation vs to a state. In the end Dr. Ghais gave fruitful points to keep in mind when addressing the concepts of pluralism, transitions, and power-sharing systems.  

A New Study on Power Sharing In Syria is Co-edited by Dr. Imad Salamey

posted on 21/08/2017

For more information, follow this link:

Dr. Salamey at MDLAB Panel on Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

posted on 21/08/2017

As part of the Media Digital Literacy Academy of Beirut’s 2017 program, the Institute of Media Research and Training at the Lebanese University hosted a panel exploring the role of practitioners and academics in conflict resolution on Thursday.

The panel, which looked to bridge the gap between practice and theory in regional conflict resolution, featured Imad Salamey, associate professor at LAU and director of LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution; Manal Omar, associate vice president at the United States Institute for Peace; May Aoun representing War Child Holland; Elie Al-Hindy from Notre Dame University; and Youness Abouyoub from the United National Economic and Social Commission for Western Africa.

mdlab-2017.jpgDr. Salamey, whose research focuses on communitarian conflicts, stressed the need for incorporating local perspectives when addressing conflict resolution in the Middle East/North Africa region, in addition to strengthening methodologies through collaboration with academia. Omar, who heads USIP’s Middle East and Africa Center, discussed the necessity of cooperation between academicians and practitioners in order to bring about regional change. Drawing from her own extensive conflict resolution experiences on the field, Omar emphasized the importance of addressing trauma and the multiple drivers for each conflict when seeking to resolve or transform them.

Aoun’s organization, War Child Holland, is an international NGO that seeks to empower children and youth in conflict zones through psychosocial support. Aoun reflected on her work with Syrian refugees to observe the gap between researchers who approach their methodology from a European or western-centric perspective, in contrast to practitioners with field experience and an understanding of community practices. Youness’ work in Libya and Yemen, among other regional experiences, shed light on the benefits and drawbacks to a practitioner’s perspective on the field in contrast with academia’s theoretical and analytical approach, leading to the need for bridging the gap between the two. Al-Hindy also emphasized that practitioners themselves have a vested interest in working alongside academia in order to identify best practices, analyze the applicability of theories, and contextualize knowledge gained.

The panel comes at the heels of a joint conference held by LAU’s ISJCR and USIP, in which the organizations launched two resource books exploring regional peacebuilding, conflict mediation, and dialogue facilitation in MENA.

For the full panel discussion, click here

معهد الولايات المتحدة للسلام ومعهد العدالة الاجتماعية وحلّ النزاعات في الجامعة اللبنانية الأميركية يطلقون كتابين لحل النزاعات

posted on 05/07/2017

أطلق معهد الولايات المتحدة للسلامUSIP  بالشراكة مع معهد العدالة الاجتماعية وحلّ النزاعات  في الجامعة اللبنانية الأميركية ISJCR، في فندق كراون بلازا في بيروت يوم 30 حزيران، كتابين يبحثان بناء السلام الإقليمي والوساطة في النزاعات وتيسير الحوار في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا.

يعرض الكتاب الأول، المكتوب باللغة العربية، أفضل الممارسات المكتسبة من دراسة حالات بناء السلام الإقليميّة، بناءً على نتائج توصّل إليها أعضاء منتدى الميسّرين الإقليميّين في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا .

يضمّ المنتدى مجموعة من الميسّرين الإقليميّين، يتوزّعون على مختلف بلدان منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، ويسعى لتطوير قدرات الميسّرين المحلّيين للعمل على الأرض والتّدخل في مناطق النزاعات لإحلال السلام.

ويقدّم الكتاب الثاني، المكتوب باللغة الإنجليزية، نهج أكاديمي مختلف لمسألة بناء السلام الإقليمي وحل النزاعات في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا. يحرر الكتاب كل من الدكتور عماد سلامة مدير مركز العدالة الإجتماعية وحل النزاعاتفي الجامعة اللبنانية الأميركية ونائب رئيس مركز الشرق الأوسط وأفريقيا في USIP منال عمر.

تقول عمر أنّ “هدف منظمتها هو وضع الميسّرين والأكاديميّين الإقليميّين في طليعة قيادة بناء السلام”.

وأردفت أنّ “هدفي هو العمل مع الأكاديميّين، مع المجتمع الدّولي ومع المنظمات غير الحكوميّة المحلية، ليتمكّن الميسّرون المحليّون في المنطقة من تحديد التّدخلات اللازمة”.

وأضافت أنّ “المشروع الحالي يعتمد على شبكة من الميسّرين بنتها منظمة البحث عن أرضية مشتركة SFCG ، في المنطقة”. 

من جهتها، قالت مديرة مشروع مكتب لبنان في SFCG ياسمين المصري: “نقدّر الاعتراف بمساهمات منظمتها ونتطّلع لاستخدام كتاب المصادر الأول في برامجنا”.

وتابعت أنّ “من الضّروري لنا ولأصحاب المصلحة والمنظمات المحلّية والدّوليّة أن نتعاون من أجل حلّ النّزاعات في منطقتنا”.

وضمّ حفل الإفتتاح أخصاء وناشطين وباحثين من دول عربية متعددة ناقشوا العوامل السّياسيّة والاجتماعية والاقتصادية وتأثيرها على طريقة حلّ النزاعات، فضلاً عن الإستراتيجيّات المتّبعة لربط الممارسين والأكاديميين بهدف العثور على أفضل الممارسات.



ISJCR and USIP Launch Two Peacebuilding Resource Books

posted on 05/07/2017

The United States Institute for Peace, in partnership with the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution at the Lebanese American University, recently launched two Resource Books exploring regional peacebuilding, conflict mediation, and dialogue facilitation in MENA. The event took place at the Crowne Plaza in Beirut on June 30.  

The First Resource Book, written in Arabic and debuted at the launching ceremony, identifies best practices and lessons learned from regional peacebuilding case studies based on findings from members of the Middle East and North Africa Regional Facilitators Forum. The RFF is a network of regional facilitators situated in different MENA countries, and the project seeks to build the capacity of national and local facilitators to work on the ground and intervene during conflicts to promote peaceful resolutions. Friday’s event included two panels comprised of various members from the regional network who discussed the effects of political and socioeconomic factors on conflict resolution processes, as well as strategies for connecting practitioners and academicians to find best practices.


The Second Resource Book, written in English, will be peer-reviewed and published in the coming months as a co-edited volume by ISJCR Director and LAU Associate Professor Imad Salamey and USIP Associate Vice President for the Middle East and Africa Center Manal Omar. While the first book focuses on the experiences of practitioners in the field, the second book seeks to provide a different, academic approach to the question of regional peacebuilding and conflict resolution in MENA.

According to Omar, the USIP’s seeks to place regional facilitators and academics at the forefront of peacebuilding thought leadership.

“My goal is to really work with the academics but also work with the international community and the local NGOs, where the local facilitators and the people who are based in the region are actually the ones designing the interventions,” Omar said. “The way that we’re doing that is by raising awareness of the expertise and the best practices that exist.”

Omar also said that the project is building on previous facilitator networking that the organization Search for Common Ground has implemented in the region. SFCG’s Lebanon Office Project Manager Yasmine Masri, who attended the event, said she appreciates the acknowledgement of her organization’s contributions and looks forward to using the First Resource Book in their programing.

“We’re also going to be relying on [the book] maybe for future facilitation sessions and activities,” Masri said. “It’s important for us and different stakeholders and different international organizations and local organizations to actually collaborate together, because of this need for conflict transformation in our region.”

Press Coverages:


ISJCR hosts MP Imad al-Hout

posted on 03/05/2017

On Tuesday, April 11, 2017, the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and the Department of Social Sciences at the Lebanese American University hosted the MP Dr. Imad Al Hout, the representative of the Jama’a Islamiyya at the Lebanese Parliament.

The event was part of Dr. Imad A. Salamey’s senior seminar: Communitarianism and Extremism in Middle Eastern Politics. 

Al-Hout discussed the Muslim brotherhood in the context of Political Islam. As a communitarian group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al-Hout declared that for the Jama’a “there is no vilayet faqih,” he emphasized that the state is a civil entity and not a religious one

Not a religious state: not governing in the name of Allah and not governed by clerks

Al-Hout clarified the concept of Jihad by arguing that “Jihad is a mean to guarantee peace. Does not aim to aggress another state, rather aims not be aggressed.

Jihad cannot be against its own society; it is only against the external enemy,” and explicitly stated that he is against changing certain Islamic terms because they’ve been understood.


MP al-hout invested quite some time in discussing the definition of political Islam as a “political change movements that believe in Islam as a political system of governance and that Islam is not only a religion but a political, social, legal and economic system that can lead state institutions.” Additionally, political Islam comprises of multiple distinct groups with contradicting interests like Salafism, Sufism and Muslim Brotherhood.

Furthermore, based on Al-Hout, the Muslim brotherhood has a 4-demensions’ methodology of change pertaining to the value, organization, social and state dimensions.

He iterated the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision about MENA crisis contending that the Arab Spring, as he insisted to call it, broke the barrier of fear and made people ready to sacrifice. However, for his excellency, there are three major hurdles in front of the Arab Spring: terrorism, counter revolution and external intervention.


When asked about ISIS, Al-Hout preferred to call them Daesh and not ISIS because they are not an Islamic state. “In their literature, their first enemy is Muslim Brotherhood” because the brotherhood is “a real barrier to people shifting to terrorism: our project is against theirs,” according to him.

Al-Hout assessed the Mohamad Morsi’s presidential mandate in 2012 arguing that the Brotherhood was very inclusive in its rule since the presidential team of 4 members include: a woman, a Copt, a Muslim brotherhood, and a Salafi. Moreover, among the 35 ministers in the government only 5 were members of the Muslim brotherhood.

Furthermore, his excellency iterated the three circles of belonging for an individual: the National circle (love for the land, freedom, dignity and relation; the Nationalism circle (pride of Arabic and Historic affiliation) and the Humanity circle. “We are claiming a new world order on a fair basis” the actual world order Is the result of the second world war,” assured MP al-Hout.


Towards the end, MP al-Hout mentioned 6 probable scenarios for the post-Arab Spring era:

1-      “Collapse and chaos (re-fragmentation)

2-      Scenario of weak central states (internal conflicts and crisis) but strong enough to protect the borders of occupied Palestine.

3-      Reestablishing the regimes before the Arab Spring with new faces.

4-      Reconciliations between regimes and peoples and the change movements in an equation of co-participation.

5-      A new revolution wave as a result of pressures.”

He posited that the second one is the most active scenario.                        

Finally, he proposed certain Muslim brotherhood strategies to overcome the challenges. Among these are: strengthening the mainstream civic identity, immunization against intervention and extremism as well as maintaining the positive spirit of the people.

ISJCR hosts Amr Khairy Abdallah

posted on 03/05/2017

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution held a lecture on deradicalizing extremists with the case of Sadat’s assassination with Dr. Amr Khairy Abdallah, Professor and Vice Rector at the University for Peace (UPEACE).

This event is part of Associate Professor of Political Science, Imad Salamey’s graduate seminar titled “Communitarianism and Extremism Politics”.

Dr. Abdallah focused on the need to focus on the doctrine and specifically the Islamic ideology and how the misconceptions and misunderstandings of the sacred text and verses act as drivers towards extremism.

He focused on the struggle of narrative; he considered that Islamic extremists believe that it is their duty as Muslims to fight their corrupt regimes and the ‘evil forces’ that are fighting to prevent the revival of Islam “as a social and political way of life.”

After spending three years prior to Anwar Sadat’s assassination, 1981, 1982 and 1983 interrogating extremists involved in this extremist action, Dr. Abdallah rejected the claim that the root causes of religious fundamentalism lay in social or economic conditions like poverty, unemployment. He assured that those extremists were literate and employed.

In that context, he provided the two Coptic church explosions couple of weeks ago as an example since the two violent extremists who committed the suicide bombers “were college educated people with jobs and were from good families also,” according to Dr. Abdallah.

However, Abdallah utilized the example of Dr. Nageh Ibrahim, a previous violent extremist who shifted his doctrine into peaceful means, to express his optimism with counter violent extremism strategies since Ibrahim and many other “leaders of Islamic Jihad in Egypt started to renounce violence openly and review their own doctrine and replace it with a doctrine about peaceful transformation and peaceful change.”

Amr Abdallah.jpg

Moreover, he posited that “there is a space in every belief system to develop a tendency of hating other people and to exercise some sort of violence and to justify that violence. In the case of Islam,” he continued, “many of its adherents, they do have the belief that once upon a time, we [Muslims] did have the hugest empire and civilization and contributed to the world; this happened when we [Muslims] were good Muslims.”

Abdallah returned back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to examine the rise of violent extremism there. He postulated that the CIA had a very brilliant idea in 1979 to bring together those people who have been fighting in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Egypt into Afghanistan. They understood that building on the Islamic sentiment and on the fact that Communism is associated with atheism, they can convince the Islamic fighters to fight the apostate communists in Afghanistan. However, unexpectedly, the United States failed to reverse the mission and deradicalize those fighters.

He posed the extremists’ dilemma of what went wrong? How come Muslims were the greatest civilization and now are at the bottom?

As a counterextremism strategy, Abdallah proposed establishing a counter narrative by the Islamists themselves based on peaceful and non-violent means.

Abdallah focused on two sides for countering extremism:

1-      Affecting a change of the doctrine

2-      Addressing real grievances social injustice, political and economic injustices

Furthermore, he suggested to find deradicalized extremists in the Arab world and the European world to share their experiences to speak to the young people and provide alternative means to violence.

Several questions were asked pertaining to the converts who find the IS ideology appealing as well as the psychological approach and the effects of Sadat’s open-door policy on the rise of violent extremism in Egypt that led to his assassination.

Finally, Dr. Abdallah pointed out the importance of spreading an alternative peaceful doctrine as well as addressing social injustices and grievances through the media and through advocacy in order to counter the extremist ideologies exploiting the Islamic sentiment and the ‘romantic narrative’ of the righteous ancestors.

ISJCR hosts Workshop on Statelessness

posted on 02/05/2017

Beirut, Lebanon (April 10, 2017 & April 26, 2017)- With the collaboration of  ISJCR and citizenship club and with the participation of UNHCR and Frontiers Ruwad, International Affairs Masters Student at the Lebanese American University, Karoline Molaeb organized her two-day workshop under the title of “Overview of Statelessness in International Law: The Global and Lebanese Perspective.” The event came as part of Molaeb’ thesis dissertation research, she states “statelessness stands as a phenomenal peculiarity in the 21st century with drastic impacts on its population.” The first day was presented by UNHCR representative, Anna Sterzi who offered a global view of statelessness asserting that “at least, 10 million people in the world have no nationality.” The second day was presented by consultant of Frontiers Ruwad Association, Samira Trad who focused on statelessness in Lebanon claiming that “Lebanese laws guarantee the basic and fundamental rights of stateless persons.” In her turn, Molaeb asserted “I discovered in my research that statelessness in Lebanon is not confined to poor regions, but also stretches to the capital Beirut and many other civilized Lebanese cities.” 

At the end of the two-day workshop, participants were issued certificates, and Sharen Aoun, student of Journalism affirmed “it was a very beneficial experience; I think that statelessness in Lebanon is a very serious issue that should be treated legally.” Not to mention that all participants were keen to help end statelessness as they all believe that everyone has the right to a nationality.


ISJCR holds a Lecture with Dr. Lina Kreidie

posted on 06/03/2017

On February 28, 2017, the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and the Department of Social Sciences held a lecture under the title: Drivers of Islamic Fundamentalism by Dr. Lina Haddad Kreidie, Professor of Political Science at LAU and AUB.

Speaking in Dr. Imad Salamey’s graduate seminar “Communitarianism and Extremist Politics” Kreidie presented different contested definitions of fundamentalism and extremism. She contended that fundamentalists are those who follow the book literally, which might in advanced stages, lead to extremism.

She discussed her 1997 research on the theory of perspective in relation to Islamic fundamentalism posing the limitations of the rational choice theory and the appropriateness its micro as well as macro level of analysis. For Kreidie, the individual level of analysis is a major aspect in understanding Islamic fundamentalism. Perspective includes both the identity and the world view. While moderate Muslims perceive themselves as individuals and believe that reason supersedes revelation, fundamentalists view themselves as unit within the large Islamic community, the Umma, and hence view reason in terms of religious revelations.


Kreidie defines the term bounded rationality to argue that extremists’ rationality is confined by the collective identity of their group and by the limitations of their pertained ideology. She distinguished between the identity-driven interest of fundamentalists and the utility-driven interest of seculars who rely on a cost-benefit analysis and rational calculus to make decisions, unlike the fundamentalists who identify their interests with those of the collective group.

One of the most interesting information posed in the lecture was the concrete statistical correlation between the Post-Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD) and becoming religious that Kreidie established. Her contemporary research demonstrated that 70% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon have PTSD while the percentage for Palestinians is 44%. Yet, what was astonishing was that the research found that 67% of those with PTSD became more religious. However, this finding, as iterated by Kreidie, requires further investigation.

Few of the questions asked in the discussion were concerned with the meaning of rationality and the basis under which we can assume if a decision is rational or not. Another interesting question inquired about transnational fighters and its interplay with Islam’s universal identity. In addition to a comment posed about the importance of distinguishing political motives from core religious motives, and the vitality of specifying that terrorist groups have deeply-rooted political interests and aims, and continuously arguing from a religious perspective is in fact giving their ‘cause’ legitimacy

Politics to music, a mutual relation?

posted on 18/02/2017


LAU professors and international artist Ray Furuta come together to show how politics, like art, is rooted in conflict and harmony, and how they influence each other.

The panel discussion is the first in a series of events organized at LAU around the theme of music.

“With what is happening in the Middle East and the United States, we need a strong weapon or an element that can bring people together, and I believe that music and the arts in general can effectively open up discussions and incite conversations when times are tough,” said Adjunct Faculty Seba Ali, who organized the event.Four panelists from different backgrounds came together on Tuesday at LAU Beirut to discuss the role of the arts in politics and how politics have influenced art and artists throughout history.

A classical pianist and educator, Ali believes that the power of music goes beyond language and its constraints as everyone relates to music; listening is the key to enhancing communication, and music, by virtue of being a universal language, teaches you just that.

Ray Furuta, artistic director of Chamber Music Silicon Valley and lecturer of flute at Santa Clara University in California, could not agree more. For him, his mere presence in Lebanon is an indirect form of protest against the U.S. presidential elections and the false xenophobic beliefs that it has brought with it.

At the concert that will be held on February 13 (LAU Byblos) and 15 (LAU Beirut) ―a co-joint event to this panel discussion―the flutist will be performing a selection of eclectic pieces that evoke stories from conflicts around the world dating back to the Second World War and including compositions mourning the victims of 9/11. He will be accompanied by Assistant Professor of Music Amr Slim on the French horn, and who not only plays occidental music but also oriental tunes. As an educator, Slim feels compelled to enlighten students on the history of Arab music, especially in an age where they are easily drawn to mainstream music, mainly occidental, he explains. 

With his social sciences perspective, Associate Professor Imad Salamey, believes that the power of music resides in its ability to mobilize the masses. From Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”―which denounces racism against African Americans―to Nizar Qabbani’s poem “Asbah 3andi Boundoukiya” (I now have a rifle) extolling the Palestinian struggle, and performed by Umm Kulthum, Salameh gave examples of music and songs that moved people because they spoke of their hardships.

“Art is a healer,” said Associate Professor of theater Mona Knio. “Sometimes theater is better than medicine,” she declared, adding that the ability to express oneself is what makes the community a safe space. She reminisced about the time Masrah al Madina opened its doors to refugees during the July 2006 war in Lebanon, and how the art and theater workshops created for kids helped reshape their daily lives. 


Dr. Imad Salamey Speaks About Demographic Changes In Syria

posted on 12/02/2017

Dr. Imad Salamey speaking on the Decline of Nation-States post-Arab Spring at Baker Institute

posted on 12/02/2017

Dr. Imad Salamey, Associate Chair and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Lebanese American University, participated in a panel discussion at Rice University’s Baker Institute on the strategies available for the U.S. administration to build inclusive and pluralistic post-Arab Spring societies.

Dr. Salamey presented on his latest publication “The Decline of Nation States After the Arab Spring and the Rise of Communitocracy”. He started by reflecting on the latest incidents in the MENA region ever since the evolution of the Arab Spring. He utilized data, statistics and facts to support his argument.


Dr. Salamey posed  the questions: “Is the nation-state in the Middle East really undergoing a crisis and is it still vital to be revitalized or if not, what is the possible political alternative?”

He contended that “globalization is the major explanatory variable to why the nation-states in the Middle East have been in decline,” he adds, “security is no longer a matter of state due to transnational military and armed actors.”

Thus, arguing that “communitarian groups have been resorting to their own means of self-help.”

For the full speech, watch the video below.

Dr. Imad Salamey, Associate Chair and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Lebanese American University, participated in a panel discussion at Rice University’s Baker Institute on the strategies available for the U.S. administration to build inclusive and pluralistic post-Arab Spring societies.

Dr. Salamey presented on his latest publication “The Decline of Nation States After the Arab Spring and the Rise of Communitocracy”. He started by reflecting on the latest incidents in the MENA region ever since the evolution of the Arab Spring. He utilized data, statistics and facts to support his argument.


Dr. Salamey posed  the questions: are the nation-state in the Middle East really undergoing a crisis and is it still vital to be revitalized or if not, what is the possible political alternative?

He contended that €œglobalization is the major explanatory variable to why the nation-states in the Middle East have been in decline, he adds, security is no longer a matter of state due to transnational military and armed actors.

Thus, arguing that communitarian groups have been resorting to their own means of self-help.

For the full speech, watch the video below.

ISJCR holds a lecture with Professor Martin Beck

posted on 04/02/2017

On January 25th, 2017, the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) and the Department of Social Sciences at the Lebanese American University hosted a guest lecturer, Professor Martin Beck, who currently holds the position of Chair of contemporary Middle East studies at the University of Southern Denmark. The lecture was convened by ISJCR associate director, Dr. Tamirace Fakhoury, in the framework of her class on Political Theory.


Professor Beck tackled the Lebanese response to the Syrian refugee surge through a mixed lens combining constructivist and realist perspectives. He began his presentation with an analytical overview of the refugee situation in Lebanon: Lebanon is a rather small country with the highest refugee density in the world. When compared to European countries’ figures regarding their reception of Syrian refugees, we find that the underlying “crisis” in Lebanon is way more acute than in Europe. Nevertheless, the Lebanese government has opted for a rather mild level of “securitization”.

In what follows, Prof. Beck tries to explain why Lebanon has not enforced at the beginning of the refugee surge extraordinary measures to control the exceeding influx of migrants. His overarching question revolved around unpacking why Lebanon hasn’t instigated securitization processes the same way European countries have done

To tackle this problématique from a positivist approach, he proposed three levels of analysis:

First, on the societal level, the majority of the Lebanese population has not expressed any ideological defense against the influx. This is due to the “Welcome culture” embedded in its core values system. In addition, no homogeneous nationalistic thoughts or feelings have been able to prevail against the influx, simply because of the diversity in ideologies that range from Pan-Arabism to Christian Phoenicianism. Furthermore, the concept of a “diffuse-reciprocity” is introduced to remind us of the Lebanese historical background, haunted with memories of its own civil war. The Lebanese community went through a lethal conflict and a huge proportion of the population assumed the same “displaced” status. Adding to this, Lebanon is characterized with a high diversity of religious beliefs. The Lebanese state has engaged throughout history with various minority groups.  It is worth adding here that policy makers are not keen on acutely politicizing the file of the Syrian refugee influx the way they have previously done with the Palestinians. They have in one way or another learned from history especially when it comes to the heavy price of violent polarization.  


Second, on the socio-economic level, Lebanon has welcomed an influx of unskilled labor, which has produced both economic “winners” and “losers”. Evidently, losers are the Lebanese lower classes, which could not compete with the highly contracted wages paid for the labor of refugees. As for the winners, it was mostly the middle and the upper classes that benefitted from the creation of new jobs in the educational and health sectors, for example.

Third, on the state level, Prof. Beck speaks of a certain “flexibility” expressed by a “weak” State: the Lebanese government is not really the most efficient one. Its problem-solving capacities are quite limited. But as denoted by the lecturer: “Sometimes, a state’s weakness can turn into strength.” In fact, the Lebanese government’s inactivity might have benefitted everyone. It gave agency to other more efficient actors to take charge of “processing” the influx of immigrants: International organizations, such as the UN, which took care of the registration process, basic relief and protection tasks; individual ministries such as the Ministry of Education, the private sector and civil society, which played a role in providing work and housing; and finally, some formal governmental institutions such as the Internal Security forces (and perhaps some informal, irregular actors such as Hezbollah). Nevertheless, some deregulated rent-seeking and exploiting behaviors by Lebanese businessmen and landowners can be observed.


The lecture ended with a reflective outlook on the situation, where Lebanon’s flexible response to the high influx of immigrants could metamorphose into a strictly securitized one, especially with the recent election of the new President and the formation of a new cabinet. However, Prof. Beck suggested that that the system has by now adapted to a presupposed “crisis” that has not really materialized. And anyhow, even if we assume that the state would become more repressive in dealing with the Syrian refugee influx, the logistical challenges related to expelling Syrian refugees out of Lebanon are of infinite encumbrance, and are virtually unmanageable. In his personal opinion, he does not foresee any exacerbated  securitization procedure that would cause a dramatic shift in the situation.

The lecture was complemented by a Q&A session in which both students and LAU professors engaged in a lively constructive discussion with Prof. Beck.

Story written by the student Pascal Damien.

"Diplomacy and Consular Services" course: Incorporating Theory and Practice

posted on 21/12/2016

Ever since its establishment, the School of Arts and Sciences at the Lebanese American University has constantly intended to merge the benefits of both, the academic and the practical world so as to generate an increasingly knowledgeable generation of students. The “Diplomacy and Consular Services” course (POL432) offered by the Department of Social Sciences, is the ultimate manifestation of this strategy where students practice hands-on experience in the “real” political field exterior to their class environment.

 “In addition to regular classes which consisted of interactive lectures, the discussion of reading materials and handouts, as well as short videos, the course included” valuable and worthy events that involved hosting guest speakers to visiting diplomatic missions, according to Mr. Milad Raad, the course’s instructor.

Australian Ambassador to Lebanon - Mr. Glenn Miles.jpg

It granted students the opportunity to meet high-profile figures. The first was Mr. Glenn Miles, the Ambassador of Australia to Lebanon who discussed the Lebanese-Australian relations and Australia’s issues of concern in Lebanon.

The second was Mr. Fabrizio Carboni, the Head of Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Lebanon and the third was Mr. Abdel Salam Sidahmed, the Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa region; both of which valuably informed the students on the concept of humanitarian and human rights diplomacy.

Head of Delegation of ICRC in Lebanon - Mr. Fabrizio Carboni.jpgRegional Representative of UNOHCHR for MENA region - Mr. Abdel Salam Sidahmed.jpg

Besides hosting such high-profile guest speakers, the course offered the students the opportunity to visit diplomatic missions and prestigious institutions under which they had the chance to interview officials. By including these visits in the course requirements, dividing the students into groups and assigning them into different missions, the course boosted the students’ self-confidence and organized their efforts to make things work out smoothly.

The missions visited by students were mainly embassies; those include: Embassy of Argentina, Embassy of Britain and Embassy of Netherlands; in addition to the Delegation of the European Union and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA).

Besides, the 17 students enrolled in the course had the chance to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants and interact with professionals in the field, chiefly Ambassador Afif Ayyub, the Director of International Organizations, conferences and cultural relations, Ambassador Mira Daher Violides, the Director of Protocol, as well as the Head of Consular Section, Mr. Antoine Eid, and the Head of Foreigners’ Section, Mr. Basheer Taouk.

With Ambassador Afif Ayyub - at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants.jpg

This enriching course embodies the mission of the School of Arts and Sciences at LAU in balancing between theory and practice hence providing students not only with vast learning outcomes but also with profound concrete experiences.

With Ambassador Mira Daher Violides - at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants.jpg


LAU Holds a Reception in Honor of Philippe Lazzarini

posted on 21/12/2016

Beirut, Lebanon – Tuesday 20th. The Department of Social Sciences at the Lebanese American University held a reception in honor of UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Philippe Lazzarini who has delivered a graduate seminar in International Affairs. Dr. Imad Salamey, Associate Chair of the Department of Social Sciences presented Lazzarini with a certificate of appreciation.  Salamey considered that the international experience of Lazzarini and his extensive knowledge of the work of international organizations were of significant importance in the preparation of graduate students as future leaders. Dr. Sami Baroudi, Professor of Political Science at LAU, represented Provost George Najjar and expressed the university’s gratitude for Lazzarini’s contributions that have helped strengthen the International Affairs program. Baroudi explained that the International Affairs program “has been one of the first in the region to give courses on international organizations,” and to help students “benefit from the long-term presence of the United Nations in Lebanon.”


The reception featured guest speaker Antonia Mulvey, the Executive Director of Legal Action Worldwide (LAW). Mulvey discussed International law frameworks and enforcement mechanisms. She examined several cases prosecuted by international lawyers, including controversial cases of state leaders under universal jurisdiction. Mulvey briefly discussed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was established by the UN Security Council and considered the first tribunal to prosecute a case of terrorism. She compared the difference between signing a treaty and actually implementing it under state sovereignty, referring to Lebanon where conventions, such as that against torture, are signed but not implemented. She stressed the importance to reform aspects of international law in order to strengthen implementation and protection mechanisms. 

group photo.jpg

LAU holds a Lecture with UNFPA’s Francois Farah

posted on 08/12/2016

On December 6, 2016The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and the Department of Social Sciences at the Lebanese American University hosted a guest lecturer Francois Farah, who is currently the Resident Representative at the United Nations Population Fund for Romania and the country director for Macedonia, Moldova and Serbia.


He began by explaining how development came about and why the developed countries always looked suspicious. His presentation included a discussion around the concept of Millennium Development goals (MDGs) and how they were established. He considered that although it was supposed to be a global development, the MDGs were written by 8 people. He further elaborated on the weaknesses and controversies surrounding particular issues such as sexual health and the challenge to obtain the compliance of many countries in the world. Farah discussed the way to win governments over the principles of the MDGs, stating his“believe that the only way you win governments over matters of SDGs is to be critical”. Farah further discussed the concept of “leaving no one behind”, the heading of SDGs, and how it has significant implications on countries like Lebanon with so many people living under the poverty line. He considered that poverty is only expanding with time. Disparity between the haves and have not is also quite large where 73% of the population held 2.4% of the wealth while the rest is being controlled by minority.


Climate change and human rights were other topics of discussion: “development has been done at the expense of people,” he suggested. The financial crisis of 2008 and the consequential price hike increased the cost of basic commodities by 47%. “I can tell you, poverty is everywhere… the more the country develops, the gap gets wider”, he explained. Farah suggested that the SDG goals have to be prioritized in Lebanon, yet the question of funding remains, emphasizing on the aspect of transparency. He offered a proposed concept that the UN system is working on to help Lebanon achieve the MDGs. He further discussed his work that provide monitoring and implementation support. A short Q&A followed. 

MP Joseph Maalouf Addresses the Work of Lebanese Parliament & Public Policy Development at LAU

posted on 03/12/2016

December 2, 2016.  The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and the Department of Social Sciences hosted Member of Parliament Joseph Maalouf to address the work and challenges of Lebanese Parliament.

MP Maalouf who serves on an ad hoc committee, formed to review “inactive laws”, found that 33 major legislation for which decrees have been issued but have not been implemented.

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He considered that by 2020 Lebanon may be heading toward a major environmental disaster if no swift responses are developed to confront the challenges.  This is not pertaining only to waste management but more seriously to the development of adequate sanitary systems.  

Maalouf who has worked on various projects aimed for the development of Zahle and Bekaa region considered that the most significant efforts invested thus far is that that aim to reduce the pollution level in the Litani River, which has been culminated in raising more than 100 million dollars for that purpose.

MP Maalouf considered the main role of Parliamentarians is to develop research-based laws, approve of the general budget, ratify international treaties, and of course monitor the execution of these budgets and treaties.

Yet among the challenges facing the Lebanese Parliament are the general misinterpretations of the constitution, political gridlocks, and bringing together politicians from different convictions and stances, and most importantly, gaining the trust of the constituencies.


Among his recommendations is to reestablish a Ministry of Planning, establish strict separation between the executive and legislative branches, as well as to instate strong anti-corruption laws to help end political clientalism.

A discussion followed his talk where the audience expressed their concerns about the status of women in political representation and the rights of mothers to pass their nationalities to children as well as relevant issues related to the upcoming Parliamentary elections.  Maalouf expressed his support to women quota in election as well as to the introduction of proportionality in any proposed mixed electoral system.  Yet, he considered the early formation of government as a pre-requisite to expedite the achievement of a new electoral law and to avoid another extension for the current Parliament.

The talk was part of Dr. Imad Salamey’s Lebanese Politics class.


In the Press:

المعلوف حاور طلاباً في اللبنانية الأميركية - النهار

المعلوف حاضر في LAU: للفصل بين السلطات ووضع قوانين لمكافحة

جوزف المعلوف: مع الكوتا النسائية البرلمانية

المعلوف حاضر في LAU: للفصل بين السلطات ووضع قوانين لمكافحة …

المعلوف حاضر في LAU: للفصل بين السلطات ووضع … - Alakhbar | News

 - جوزف المعلوف: للفصل بين السلطات ووضع قوانين 

A Discussion on Peace and Security Issues by the EU Ambassador to Lebanon

posted on 29/11/2016

On November 29, 2016, the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and the Department of Social Sciences at the Lebanese American University hosted her Excellency, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, the Ambassador Christina Lassen.


Ambassador Lassen discussed the EU as a unique supporter of the UN. Lassen expressed her satisfaction with the EU as a post-WWII peace-building project. When discussing Brexit, Lassen briefly stated “Brexit is going to be difficult, because we are intertwined”, explaining that it was a security response but it is still needed to be handled together, adding “in the end, we cannot go further than the member states’ governments want”. She explained that although the EU has faced a lot of backlash, people tend to take the successes for granted emphasizing that war between the European states today seems unimaginable, thanks to the community the EU has created. In addition to all the advantages that members of the EU already have, such as open borders, she added enthusiastically, that roaming charges are going to be removed next year around Europe.

EUambassador 3.JPG

Lassen went on to explain the new global strategy for 2016, presented by High Representative Federica Mogherini, which has quite a different background than previous security policies, explaining that it focuses on European neighborhoods: Eastern and Southern neighborhoods; Lebanon being in the Southern neighborhood. Afterwards, Lassen discussed Lebanon’s needs and the EU’s support to the refugees and their host communities within the Lebanese territory, especially in areas like Bekaa and Akkar. The EU is still a large donor to Lebanon especially following the Syrian crisis whereby she noted that this year alone, the EU is “giving around 400 million euros to Lebanon”. Lassen stressed on the importance of the UN’s role to help tackle the refugee problem, which is causing a huge burden on the economy. She applauds Lebanon for its ‘resilience’. She further praised Lebanon, claiming that “there is so much potential in this region. What the Lebanese have been doing here in the last four years is quite a bit success. I don’t think anyone would have imagined that Lebanon would be able to withstand the war in Syria”. When discussing Lebanese politics, Lassen explained that the EU distinguishes between Hezbollah’s political branch and military branch, not keeping contacts with the latter, even though some member states don’t follow this EU policy. Furthermore, she declared the EU’s support for the enhanced women’s representation in the political arena. A short Q & A followed.

This discussion was part of Mr. Philip Lazzarini’s Tuesday seminar class at LAU, Beirut.

Press Coverage:

ISJCR holds an International Conference on Syrian Conflict

posted on 20/11/2016

Beirut, 17-18 November, 2016.  The institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) at the Lebanese American University (LAU) in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and  The International Dialogue Center (KAICIID) organized a two-day peer-reviewed conference at the Lebanese American University - Beirut to address conflict mitigation, dialogue, and reconciliation strategies in Syria. The conference aimed to map comparative models in identity-conflict societies with a particular attention given to  power sharing arrangements, local initiatives, and the role of non-state actors and religious leadership. Innovative approaches to conflict mitigation and peace-building through dialogue, deliberation, education, mediation, reparations, and transitional justice within the Syrian context were of primary interest.   


Mansour, Samak, and Salamey

ISJCR Director Imad Salamey launched the conference by emphasizing the scholarly urgency to address the Syrian conflict and help exploring conflict mitigation and reconciliation strategies to end the bloodshed.  Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the Lebanese American University Dr. Nashat Mansour welcomed the participants and expressed his hopes to have the conference achieve its objectives and to address the important pillars for a civil state that may help end the sectarian and ethnic differentiation among citizens.   Keynote speaker and President of Islamic-Christian Dialogue Committee Dr. Mohamad Al Samak denied that Islam differentiate among people, but it has rather emphasized every aspect of unification and appreciation of diversity.

Professor Salim Sayegh

Presentations focused on the conceptual as well as comparative practical framework of successful reconciliation strategies applicable to Syria.  Papers addressed the role of religious and local leaders, institutions, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) in promoting reconciliation. Demonstration of reconciliation experiences from the region with initiatives taken by local leaders, including tribal and civic in promoting reconciliation were showcased.  

Dr. Tamirace Fakhoury moderating Power Sharing Session

Associate Director of the ISJCR and Professor of International Affairs at LAU Dr. Tamirace Fakhoury moderated the first session on Power Sharing Options for Syria. Moderators included the American University Professor and KAICIID Senior Advisor Dr. Mohamad Abu Nimer as well as USIP Middle East Director of Programs Dr. Elie Abouaoun.  Palestine former Minister of Justice Dr. Ali Kahashan as well as Lebanon former Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Salim Sayegh were among the discussants that included Syria’s UNDP Director Dr. Samuel Rizk, Mr. Elias Toumeh, Syria’s Bishop of Wadi al Nasara, Sheikh Hussein Ghazi Abdulrahman Al Samerrai,  Member of Iraqi Fiqeh Council of Senior Scholars, and Mohammad Salman Al-Saadi, Head of the National Reconciliation Commission in Iraq.

Bishop Touhmeh

Participants from 15 countries representing 25 nationalities and 10 different religious groups took part in a two-day conference.

More than 60 academics and practitioners, bringing together international comparative experience of countries that are or have experienced conflicts similar to that in Syria, attended the event. “Our aim was to exchange expertise and discuss how such conflicts can be resolved and what kind of processes can help put an end to the conflict in Syria,” explained ISJCR Director Imad Salamey.

Thumbnail image for Sheikh Al Samerrai

Participants contributed to one of five panels, the first of which focused on power-sharing in Syria.

“It’s amazing how much I learned at this conference, thanks to the diversity of scholars from different fields,” said KAICIID fellow Sniha Roy, who spoke about the role of women in leading reconciliation during the first panel, which was moderated by Syrian UNDP Director Samuel Rizk.


“It was the first time I’d heard him speak, and I found him most convincing,” said conference guest Samah Halwany, co-founder and peace projects manager of Lebanon’s ADYAN Foundation. “The comparison with Somalia during the fourth panel was also very enlightening.”

That panel addressed peace building in Syria and was moderated by Elie Abouaoun, director of Middle East Programs at USIP. “I myself am particularly interested in the topics of power-sharing and local wisdom based mediation, and the role of religious leaders in peace building,” said Abouaoun of the conference.


Among the religious leaders present was Bishop of the Syrian town of Wadi al Nasara, Elias Toumeh, who visits Lebanon regularly to teach interfaith dialogue at Balamand University. “The discussions have been very good and we were certainly enriched by an understanding of other experiences,” said the bishop, who contributed to a panel focused on dialogue in Syria. “The first days was mostly theoretical and the second more practical. It is clearly a quality academic conference and I hope it is a contributor to the peace we all want for Syria,” he added, noting that he would have liked to see more participants from within Syria.


Independent consultant Reem Alsalem was among the speakers to contribute to the final panel, focused on international mediation in Syria. “I accepted the invitation to attend because I was inspired by the agenda, which was very comprehensive, very timely, and included a diverse list of participants,” said the Belgium-based consultant. “The fact that it’s happening in Lebanon is very symbolically important as the country has been hosting many refugees and has been affected by the crisis in many ways, so it’s important that there continues to be leadership on mediation and reconciliation from within the region and not just from Europe or the U.S.”



For more news on this story, check out: 

How to resolve the Syrian conflict?

Annahar 24-11-2016.pdf

Anwar 24-11-2016.pdf

Mustaqbal 24-11-2016.pdf


Conference Agenda

International Conference on Conflict Mitigation, Dialogue, and Reconciliation in Syria

17-18 November 2016, Beirut - Lebanon

Day 1: Thursday, November 17, 2016



Opening Remarks by Dr. Imad Salamey, Director Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution 

Welcome Notes Dr. Nashat Mansour, Dean of Arts and Sciences at LAU

Conference Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mohamad Al-Samak, Islamic-Christian Dialogue Committee

9:30-11:15 Panel I: Power Sharing in Syria

Moderator: Dr. Tamirace Fakhoury, Associate Professor, Lebanese American University.

Discussant: Dr. Samuel Rizk, Syria UNDP Director


-       The Road to Sustainable Peace in Syria, Dr. Amal Khoury, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Dr. Faten Ghosn, Associate Professor, University of Arizona, USA.

-       Resolving Identity Conflict in the Middle East, Dr. Chahine Ghais, Professor, Notre Dame University, Lebanon.

-       Peace-building in Syria through Power-sharing: A Study of Possibilities, Khairunnisa Aga, Doctoral candidate, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.

-      Could the partition be the way to end the Syrian war? Francisco Salvador Barroso Cortés, Assistant Professor and Céline Merheb-Ghanem, Lecturer, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon.

-     Pathways to reconciliation in divided societies – Islamist groups in Lebanon, Dr. Morten Boas and Tine Gade, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

-    Women leading Reconciliation : A paradigm shift in conflict resolutions, Sneha Roy, Research Scholar, Hindu Council of UK (HCUK).

 11:15-11:30 Coffee Break



11:30 – 1:15

Panel II: Dialogue in Syria

Moderator: Professor Mohamad Abu-Nimer, Senior Advisor, KAICIID.

Discussant: Mr. Elias Toumeh, Syria’s Bishop of Wadi al Nasara


-       Non-Political Dialogue as a Means for Conflict Mitigation in Syria “Fadi El Hajjar, International Conflict Resolution Expert,   Arab Center For Research and Development 

-       Extremist Movements in the Middle East: The Case of Daesh in Syria, Faiz Omar Mohammad Jamie, Associate professor of political science, Centre for Peace and Development Studies- University of Bahri- Sudan.

-       التسامح والحوار يؤدي للمصالحة وينهي الصراع في سوريا , Marcelle Jwaniat, Doctorate Candidate, Lebanese University.

عالمية الخطاب الإسلامي والخطاب مع الآخر, Dr. Ahmad Al Harasis,  Islamic Center for Resarch - Jordan

1:15-2:30 Lunch
2:30-3:45  Panel III: Transitional Justice in Syria

Moderator: Renata Smith, Assistant to Senior Advisor, KAICIID.

Discussant:  Ali Khashan, President Global Center for Justice and Humanity


-       The Shaping Flame: Trials, Conflict and Reconciliation in Syria, Timothy William Waters, Professor of Law- Associate Director, Center for Constitutional Democracy, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, USA.

-       The role of diaspora communities in transitional justice processes, Basma Alloush, Tufts University.

-       سؤال العدالة  والحقيقة في سوريا وإمكانية الإفادة من الدرس الأفريقي, Ashraf Othman, Professor, University of Oum Dorman, Sudan;  and Abd Elaziz Alamin Elshiekh, Professor, University of Kardavan, Sudan.

-       العدالة الانتقالية والمصالحة عيوب التجربة العراقية, Adel Saad, Consultant, Hamourabi Institute for Human Rights, Iraq.

-      Using social science in the service of religious peacebuilding among Syrians – lessons from a study in Bosnia-Herzegovina, George R. Wilkes, Director of Project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace, University of Edinburgh, UK.

-      Syrian Minority Rights in the Context of Conflict Mitigation, Dialogue, and Reconciliation in Syria, Kyfork Aghobjian, Researcher at the University of Vienna/Intern at KAICIID , Austria.

3;45-4:00 Coffee Break
4:00- 5:00 Round Table Discussion: Steps toward Justice and Peace in Syria

Moderator: Dr. Faten Ghosn, Associate Professor, University of Arizona, USA.

Discussant: Dareen Kahlifa, Day After Association, Syria.

Discussant: Erik Mohns, options to support the facilitation of dialogues at community and local level in northern Syria, German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Friday, November 18, 2016

9:00-9:15 Conference Remarks by Dr. Imad Salamey, ISJCR Director
9:15-11:15  Panel IV: Peace Building in Syria

 Moderator: Dr. Elie Abouaoun, Director of Middle East Programs, USIP

 Discussant: Mohammad Salman Al-Saadi, Head of the National Reconciliation Commission in Iraq.


-       The Impact of Neutral Media Discourse on Conflict Mitigation, Mahmoud Hamed ElSherif, Professor, Cairo University/ American University of Cairo.

-       Conflict Resolution and Peace Building:  International Civil Society Organizations in Mitigating the Power Struggle through Social Media in Syria, K.M Baharul Islam, Ajay Kumar Sharma,Archan Mitra, Indian Institute of Management Kashipur.

-      Building Lasting Peace in Syria: Lessons from Somalia, Abdulahi A. Osman, Visiting Assistant Professor, The Pennsylvania State University.

- Syrian Conflict Resolution through Local Wisdom Based-Mediation, Abellia Anggi Wardani Research Scholar Tilburg University, Netherlands and Esther Silalahi, Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, Singapore. 

11:15-11:30 Coffee Break




11:30 – 1:30*

(includes prayer time)

Panel V: International Mediation in Syria

Moderator: Dr. Amal Khoury, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Discussant: Salim Sayegh, Professor of International Affairs and Director of CADMOS, University of Paris.


-      “Syrian Voices”: Helping Syrian Civilians to be Heard, Reem Alsalem, Independent Consultant (Belgium)

-       Kurds, Democracy, civil War, and the United States: Role of the United Nations and Civil Society in restoring peace and conflict resolution in Syria, K M Baharul Islam and Asif Khan, Center of Excellence in Public Policy and Government, Indian Institute of Management Kashipur.

-       Turkey: from party to the conflict to potential mediator?, Jana Jabbour, Professor, University of Saint Joseph.

1:30-2:45 Lunch




 Round Table Discussion: Comparative International Experiences and Syria’s Strategy for Conflict Mitigation, Dialogue, and Reconciliation

Moderator: Osama Gharizi, Regional Program Officer Middle East Programs, USIP

Discussant: Hussein Ghazi Abdulrahman Al Samerrai,  Iraqi Fiqeh Council of Senior Scholars, Iraq, Religious Point of View.

Presentation: Haider Al Ibrahimi, Director, SANAD: Local reconciliation and post conflict stabilization / lessons learned from Iraq)


Ali Chahine, Founding Member, MENA Facilitators Forum, Lebanon

Amer bani Amer, General Director, Al Hayat Center for Civil Development, Jordan

Aqeel Salman, Director of External Relations, Iraq National Reconciliation Commission, Iraq

Asma Ayari, USIP,  Tunis

Chiara Butti, Lebanon Country Manager, International Alert, Lebanon

Cosette Maiky, Field Officer, KAICIID, Lebanon

Elie ElHindy, Associate Professor, NDU, Lebanon

Fady Abi Allam – Director of the Permanent Peace Movement and Member of the MENA Facilitators Forum, Lebanon

Hubert DUHOT, Regional Crisis Response Planning Officer, Middle-East Delegation of the European Union, Lebanon            

Jinane Nader, Social Media Trainer, KAICIID/MenaPro Progress and Development, Lebanon

Maha Yahya, MENA Director, CARNEGIE, Lebanon

Maya Sukar, Political Officer, Lebanese Information Center, Lebanon

Michel Nseir, Reverend, World Council of Churches & Middle East Council of Churches, Switzerland

Mustafa Riyalat, Consultant, KAICIID Dialogue Centre, Jordan

Myriam Marcuello, Consultant, Peace Labs, USA

Osama Safa – UN – ESCWA and Member of the MENA Facilitators Forum, Lebanon

Peter Luskin, Consultant, Mercy Corp, Lebanon

Riad Jarjour,  President Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, Lebanon

Samah Halwany , Peace Projects Manager, ADYAN Foundation, Lebanon

Sherif Rizk, Trainer and Independent writer, Egypt

Waseem Haddad, Programme Officer, KAICIID Dialogue Centre, Austria

Yosra El Gendi, Research Officer Media, Conflict and Democratization Project at AUC, Egypt


جدول أعمال المؤتمر

المؤتمر الدولي حول حل الصراع والحوار، والمصالحة في سوريا

17-18 تشرين الثاني 2016، بيروت - لبنان

اليوم الأول: الخميس 17 تشرين الثاني 2016




كلمة الأفتتاح من قبل الدكتور عماد سلامة

مدير معهد العدالة الإجتماعية وحل النزاعات


الترحيب بالمشاركين من قبل الدكتور نشأت منصور

عميد كلية الآداب والعلوم في الجامعة اللبنانية الأميريكية


المتحدث الرئيسي للمؤتمر:

الدكتور محمد السماك، لجنة الحوار الإسلامية-المسيحية


الندوة الأولى: تقاسم السلطة في سوريا

الميسر: الدكتور تاميراس فاخوري، الجامعة البنانية الأمريكية

المناقش: الدكتور سامويل رزق، مدير UNDP في سوريا


-       الطريق للسلام المستدام في سوريا، الدكتورة أمل خوري، جامعة نورث كارولينا في شارلت و الدكتورة فاتن غصن، جامعة أريزونا، الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية

-    الدكتور شاهين غيس، جامعة نوتردام، لبنان تسوية صراعات الهوية في الشرق الأوسط

-      خيرونيسية أغا، مرشح الدكتوراه، جامعة جواهرلال نيهرو، الهند بناء السلام من خلال تقاسم السلطة في مرحلة ما بعد النزاع في سوريا

-     هل يمكن أن يكون التقسيم الحل الأنسب لإنهاء الحرب السورية ؟ فرنسيسكو سلفادور باروسو كورتز و سيلين مرهب-غانم، جامعة الروح القدس الكسليك، لبنان  

-    مقررات تمهيدية لمرحلة المصالحة في المجتمعات المنقسمة - الجماعات الإسلامية في لبنان، الدكتور مورتن بواس و تيني غيد، المعهد النرويجي للشؤون الدولية  

-   النساء  في قيادة المصالحة: نقلة نوعية في حل النزاعات، سنيها روي، المجلس الهندوسي في المملكة المتحدة

 11:15-11:30 استراحة





11:30 – 1:15

الندوة الثانية: الحوار في سوريا

االميسر: الأستاذ محمد أبو نمر، كبير مستشاري  KAICIID

المناقش: إلياس تومة، المطران السوري في وادي النصارة


-      الحوار غير السياسي كوسيلة للحد من النزاع في سوريا، فادي الحجار، خبير حل النزاعات الدولية، المركز العربي للبحوث و التنمية

-      الحركات المتطرفة في الشرق الأوسط: حالة داعش في سوريا، فايز عمر محمد جامي، أستاذ في العلوم السياسية، مركز دراسات السلام والتنمية، جامعة بحري - السودان  

-       التسامح والحوار يؤدي للمصالحة وينهي الصراع في سوريا، مرسل جوينيات، مرشح الدكتوراه في الجامعة اللبنانية

    - عالمية الخطاب الإسلامي والخطاب مع الآخر. أحمد ماجد حمد الحراسيس. مفتي في دائرة الافتاء العام الاردنية. رئيس قسم الدراسات والبحوث

1:15-2:30 الغداء

 الندوة الثالثة: العدالة الإنتقالية في سوريا

االميسر: ريناتا سمث، مساعدة كبير مستشاري  KAICIID.

المناقش: علي خشان، رئيس المركز العالمي للعدالة والإنسانية


-      الشعلة التشكيلية: المحاكمات والنزاعات والمصالحة في سوريا، تيموثي وليم واترز، أستاذ في الحقوق، مركز الديمقراطية الدستورية، جامعة إنديانا كلية مورر للحقوق، الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية  

-       دور مجتمعات الشتات في عمليات العدالة الانتقالية، بسمة علوش، جامعة تفتس

-       سؤال العدالة  والحقيقة في سوريا وإمكانية الإفادة من الدرس الأفريقي، أشرف عثمان، جامعة أم دورمان، السودان و عبد العزيز أمين، جامعة كردفان، السودان,

-       العدالة الانتقالية والمصالحة عيوب التجربة العراقية، عادل سعد، مستشار في معهد حامورابي لحقوق الإنسان، العراق

-    استخدام العلوم الاجتماعية في خدمة بناء السلام الديني بين السوريين - الدروس المستفادة من دراسة في البوسنة والهرسك ، جورج ولكس، مدير مشروع حول الدين والأخلاق في صنع الحرب والسلام، جامعة إدنبيرغ، المملكة المتحدة

-      حقوق الأقليات السورية في سياق التخفيف من الصراع والحوار، والمصالحة في سوريا، كيفورك أغوبيان، باحث في باحث في جامعة فينا و KAICIID، النمسا

3;45-4:00 استراحة
4:00- 5:00

طاولة مستديرة تناقش: خطوات نحو العدل والسلام في سوريا

الوسيط: الدكتورة فاتن غصن، جامعة أريزونا، الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية.

المناقش: دارين خليفة، جمعية داي أفتر، سوريا 

المناقش: إريك مونز، خيارات لدعم تيسير الحوار في المجتمع المحلي في شمال سوريا، المؤسسة الألمانية للتعاون الدولي (جي تي زد)

الجمعة، 18 تشرين الثاني، 2016


إفتتاح اليوم الثاني من قبل الدكتور عماد سلامة

مدير معهد العدالة الإجتماعية وحل النزاعات


 الندوة الرابعة: بناء السلام في سوريا

 الميسر: الدكتور إلي أبوعون، مدير برامج الشرق الأوسط في  USIP

 المناقش: محمد سلمان السعدي، رئيس لجنة المصالحة الوطنية في العراق


-       تأثير الخطاب الإعلامي المحايد على التخفيف من النزاعات، محمود الشريف، أستاذ في جامعة القاهرة/ الجامعة الأمريكية في القاهرة

-      حل النزاعات وبناء السلام: منظمات المجتمع المدني الدولية في التخفيف من الصراع على السلطة من خلال وسائل الإعلام الاجتماعية في سوريا، ك.م. باهارول اسلام أجاي كومار شارما، أركان ميترا، معهد الإدارة الهندي، كاشيبور

-     بناء السلام الدائم في سوريا: الدروس المستفادة من الصومال، عبد اللهي أ. عثمان، جامعة بنسيلفينية

- حل النزاعات السوري من خلال الحكمة المحلية القائمة على الوساطة، أبيلية أنجي ورداني، باحث، جامعة تيلبيرغ في هولندا و أسثر سيلاهي، مركز الحوار الإنساني، سنغافورة 

11:15-11:30 استراحة






11:30 – 1:30

(يشمل وقت الصلاة)

الندوة الخامسة: الوساطة الدولية في سوريا

االميسر: الدكتورة أمل خوري، جامعة نورث كارولينا في شارلوت

المناقش: الدكتورسليم الصايغ ، بروفسور في العلاقات الدولية  ومدير مركز قدموس في جامعة باريس


-     “أصوات سورية” : مساعدة المدنيين السوريين ليُسمعوا، ريم السالم، مستشارة مستقلة، بلجيكا  

 - الأكراد والديمقراطية والحرب الأهلية، والولايات المتحدة: دور الأمم المتحدة والمجتمع المدني في إحلال السلام وحل الصراع في سوريا، ك.م. باهارول اسلام و عاصف خان، مركز التميز في السياسة العامة والحكومة، المعهد الهندي للإدارة، كاشبور

-       تركيا: من طرف من أطراف النزاع إلى وسيط محتمل؟ جنا جبور، أستاذة في جامعة مار يوسف

1:30-2:45 غداء






  طاولة مستديرة تناقش: استراتيجية سورية لتخفيف حدة الصراع والحوار، والمصالحة و التجارب الدولية

الميسر: أسامة غريزي، منسق البرامج الإقليمية في الشرق الأوسط  USIP

عرض:  الدكتور حسين غازي عبد الرحمن السمرائي، مجلس الفقه العراقي، وجهة نظر الشأن العراقي من الناحية الدينية 

عرض: حيدر الإبراهيمي، مدير، سند : المصالحة المحلية وتحقيق الاستقرار بعد الصراع / الدروس المستفادة من العراق


President of Beirut Municipal Council Jamal Itani Announces New Plans during a Talk at LAU

posted on 24/10/2016

On October 24, 2016, President of the Beirut Municipal Council, Mr. Jamal Itani discussed his election experience during a talk delivered in the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution at the Lebanese American University.


Itani considered that the last municipal elections revitalized local politics and brought electoral competition to the fore. In many ways it has injected the political campaign with fresh ideas and elevated the debate for the benefit of Beirutis.  He asserted that the main advantages of the “Bayaretah list” stem from the extensive municipal experiences most candidates held.  This factor was decisive in building confidence among supporters.  In addition, the list’s ability to preserve former Prime Minister Hariri’s tradition of evenly dividing seats between Christians and Muslims was among the additional aspects contributing to campaign’s strength.   


Itani’s vision for the development of the city revolves around five major undertakings that include:

1-      Environment and Waste Management

2-      Infrastructure

3-      Public Health

4-      Social Well-being

5-      Cultural appreciation and promotion

Itani considered the environment and waste management to have required immediate and urgent attention.  The plan to better manage the city’s waste may include one or multiple approaches and could include the establishment of underground garbage collection dumpsters, plasma, incinerators, and waste to energy projects. All preclude a major campaign to consolidate a recycling culture and practice among the city residents.  Plans also include the preservation and development of green spaces.

Itani stressed the importance of energizing, boosting the effectiveness, and increasing the efficiency of his administration.  He entertained few ideas that include 5-day work plan, higher pay, reduced bureaucracy, and a local police force.  Itani stressed the importance of team work practice among his administration,  enhancing public relations, encouraging public participation and local initiatives, coordinating with surrounding municipalities, as well as the synchronization of his work along with the Governor. Itani revealed that his administration will seek increasing autonomy that will allow the city residents to benefit from its resources and tax collections.  His vision includes taking charge of power plans, garbage collection, traffic management, and other public services that are deemed vital for advancing the life standards of the city.  Itani concluded his discussion with a question and answer session.



Lecture on the Elimination of Chemical Weapons in Syria

posted on 19/10/2016

In the Press:  LAU hosts Kaag: Syria suffers unprecedented challenges 

Beirut, Lebanon – On Tuesday, October 18th, The Department of Social Sciences at the Lebanese American University hosted Ms. Sigrid A.M. Kaag, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon who has been recently appointed by General Secretary Bank Ki-Moon as a Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – UN joint mission in Syria. 


Addressing students she discussed the situation in Syria, describing the time we are living as being full of  “unprecedented challenges”. Violent extremism, the proliferation of non-state actors seizing territories, and sectarian mobilizations are only part of the complexity.

Kaag considered that the solution cannot be found as a one-size-fits-all. Among the challenges is the limited resources available for any mission to confront such an intertwined conflict. The elimination of chemical weapons in Syria has increasingly proven to be among the difficulties, not only in terms of logistics but also in maintaining consensus among the P5 while meeting deadlines. Political disagreements within the Security Council is another factor hindering comprehensive efforts in monitoring and de-armament.   Additional difficulties have surfaced where countries are being reluctant to receive the chemical weapons being shipped out of Syria. 

Kaag 1.JPG

Ms. Kaag stressed the importance of “creative diplomacy” and “flexibility” in such situations. She considered that taking risks and using multilateral approaches may be required to proceed forward.  Decision making should also be based on moral responsibility not strict technicalities.  “We need to be credible ourselves”, Kaag considered.

The event was hosted by Mr. Philippe Lazzarini who is delivering a graduate seminar in International Affairs at LAU.

MP Marwan Hamade Discusses Electoral Reforms in Lebanon

posted on 17/10/2016

October 17, 2016 5:00 PM

Nicol 222, Beirut campus

The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and the Department of Social Sciences hosted a discussion with MP Marwan Hamade under the theme: “Electoral Reforms in Lebanon”.

H.E. Marwan Hamade is an elected Member of the Lebanese Parliament for Shouf District (2009). He served as Minister of Telecommunications, Minister of Economy and Trade, Minister of Tourism, Minister of Health, and Minister of the Displaced during different Lebanese cabinets. He started his career as an Economic and Political Columnist at an-Nahar and L’Orient-de-Jour daily newspapers before serving as an-Nahar Group President and Director. He also served as Member of the Higher Council of the Lebanese Press, Consultant for the World Organization of Health for the Middle East, and Member of the International Committee of Bioethics at UNESCO. MP Hemade is a member of the Strategic Council of St. Joseph University, Beirut. He holds a Law degree and a PhD in economics from Saint Joseph University.

This event was part of Associate Professor Imad Salamey’s graduate seminar titled “Lebanese Electoral Politics”.


Press Release

Marwan Hamadeh voices optimism for reforming electoral law

Beirut, Lebanon – On Monday, October 17th, Member of Parliament Mr. Marwan Hamade voiced optimism for electoral reform during a talk delivered at the Lebanese American University’s  Institute of Social Justice and Conflict Resolution.  


Hamade, who served in various ministries suggested that we should not give up to pessimism when it comes for a new electoral law. Given the complexity of Lebanese political demography, and given the parity of representation despite mismatching Muslim-to-Christian electorates, the new law must be carefully crafted.  The menu of electoral propositions have now reached more than 17 different proposals.

Despite the fact that they are mostly divergent, where some recommend proportionality in large districts and others majority in smaller districts, mixed electoral system seems to have gained most support.   

The remaining question is how many MPs should be enlisted on either proportional or majoritarian levels. Still, the real elephant in the room lies in determining the size and border of electoral districts that can produce equitable representation and avoid gerrymandering.


Hamade considered that significant progress has been made during parliamentary deliberation that aimed to address the concerns of most political parties and sectarian communities.  Among the innovative electoral proposition being discussed is the introduction of primaries as a mean to determine qualified and popularly preferred candidates.  With respect to the question of presidency MP Hamadeh voiced his preference to see a younger president elected to help jump start the political process and provide encouragement and enthusiasm to the population at large.

Press Coverage

Addiyar 02-11-2016.pdf

AlBalad 02-11-2016.pdf

Alliwaa 02-11-2016.pdf

Annahar 02-11-2016.pdf

Anwar 02-11-2016.pdf

Mustaqbal 02-11-2016.pdf

Response to Speaker


On October 17, 2016, the Lebanese Electoral Politics course hosted his Excellency MP Marwan Hamade. Hamade started with a brief overview about the Lebanese history and examined the delicate and complex divisions within the Lebanese society posing the dilemma about the best electoral system that can balance between fair representation, stability and good governance. The MP briefed the attendees about the major electoral draft laws debated like the Orthodox law, Charbel law and most importantly the two electoral propositions: one suggested by the Future Front, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and the Lebanese Forces (68 seats based on majoritarian representation and 60 seats based on proportional representation) and the second by Amal party comprising of 64 seats by proportional representation and 64 by majoritarian. Hamade noted a very important distinction between a project and a proposition emphasizing that the first is the one issued from the government to the house whereas the latter is drafted by one or more MPs to the assembly. Furthermore, Hamade pointed 3 issues for the failure of reforms: these are: 1) the feudal system, 2) the confessional system and 3) the weapons and the arms. Few of the most important questions asked were those related to the retreat of the feudal families, the out-of-country voting and the presidential and parliamentary elections. Hamade expressed his optimism with the capability of the new generation to induce a change that can “limit” the sectarian structure of the country and prepare for deconfessionalism. It would have been interesting to further discuss the issue of how the next president can actually impact the choice of the electoral system.




 *  Indeed it was a very good presentation. The speaker seemed very at ease and easy to talk with. This made it very comfortable to share our questions, thoughts, & ideas. The speaker makes me aware about the fact that electoral systems design is highly sensitive to context. In addition, I have acquired a lesson regarding how political agreement is very important, not all the time politicians have to conflict each other. Yes there is conflict of interest but political agreement on the rules and legislations such as electoral system must be exist. For me, discussing the different types of electoral systems; single-member constituency systems, multi-member constituency systems, and mixed systems with both single and multi-member constituencies, where particularly interesting. I think all the questions were very helpful, however, I especially appreciated the question made by one of our colleagues was about the solution of the problem of political disagreement and other question was about geographical distribution of different ethnic and religious groups were helpful. Although I did ask two questions, I still have unanswered one. It is all about “what are the criteria based on it we can say which constituency systems proportional, majoritarian, or mixed is much more convenient to different culturally plural societies?” The class was absolutely wonderful for me. 

* I really enjoyed the presentation by HE Marwan Hamade on the reform of the Lebanese Electoral System. The speaker made me aware on how and why Lebanon has reached a deadlock in the parliamentary and presidential elections. As well, he informed me on why most reforms have failed; due to Feudal systems, Confessional system and Weaponry & Money. I particularly enjoyed his reading out of the Lebanese constitution on when the president should have been elected, at least 10 days before the end of the mandate of the previous president! It’s surprising to me how a country can drift from its’ own constitution! I thought Nora’s question was helpful, regarding how will voters from abroad change the dialogue. MP Hamade explained that it would diminish to a certain degree the imbalance between Christians & Muslims, yet it would be best to allocate a number of seats for voters abroad. I asked a questions regarding how the presidential vacancy has impacted Lebanon’s stability, considering all international and national players, as well as if a president is elected, what’s next? In light of his discussion, I definitely like to hear from a woman MP if possible:)

* The presentation was interesting, it made me aware that not only sectarianism is the problem in Lebanon but also feudalism, both being the reasons why all reforms are failing, and it made me recognize the difference between a proposition and a project of law. Moreover, I learned that there are 17 project laws and propositions crammed together and forgotten by the government. The most interesting part was when he mentioned the latest municipal elections and the support which civil society got in it, thus even within this sectarian system, the citizens tried to change. A helpful question asked by another student was whether a president elected by a prolonged parliament would be considered legitimate; the answer was that we have to start somewhere to solve the deadlock and already five of our presidents were elected by prolonged parliaments. I would have asked a question about whether the speaker considers the Lebanese electoral system to be actually democratic or not, because it might be considered by some as the only democratic system in the Arab world, however other factors interfere which render Lebanon further from the typical western secular democracies. More discussion could be made in the future about the possibility of not only changing the system of electing a parliament but also change the system to a presidential system and seeing how this would affect Lebanon.

* MP Hamade’s presentation was extremely interesting and informative especially that most of the events and instances he addressed he was an active participant and witness given his extensive and lengthy experience in Lebanese politics; He also presented some details included in the Taif agreement (regarding the activation of the senate and the election implications) that I was unaware of which made me view this agreement in a slightly more tolerant way as I am personally opposed to it.  Most interesting part of the discussion was the electoral law projects that he referred to which are currently presented to the parliament the mixed systems proposes by the different party coalition and the other one presented by the speaker of the house suggesting also a mixed system between proportional system and majoritarian by having primary election with a threshold of 25%. The question about women quota, as that would have been my second question. I wanted to know if the current proposals being studied included a woman quota. I would have liked for MP to give us a draft of the 2 proposals that he mentioned as well as ask him what would be in his opinion a better suitable law for Lebanon and if he would elaborate on drawing district lines. I would like us to discuss the division of districts and how gerrymandering changes election outcome in Lebanon because this is seemingly the only matter i find challenging.

* The presentation was very informative and I can consider it as a huge added value just like the previous lectures. The discussion gave me an idea how to think broadly about the Electoral Reforms in Lebanon. The demographic issue that politically accommodate the shifts of both Muslims and Christians across Lebanon (Christians were majority and Muslims were minority).-Proportionality can be seen within the community. The idea is if we have a mixed system, proportionality will be imposed in it.- He summarized in three points why most reforms have failed in Lebanon, starting from the law that was diminished under civil society along with the legitimacy of individual groups. Confessional system, adoption of Taif Agreement to guarantee local civil rights, and all events that happened before 1992 such as: Amal Movement and PSP Lebanese Forces.- President dilemma. The adoption of Orthodox law and the elimination of sectarian division. - Parliamentary election and proportional system.- Legitimacy of current assembly. Why it’s difficult to implement a gender quota in addition to a confessional quota in majority system?

*  The presentation of the history of Lebanon was enriching to explore the perspective from a prominent government official who worked in various sectors. The impression I had was reaffirming the rigidity and impossibility to change things easily in Lebanon, even when serving in an executive position. Every step has to be weighed against its costs, even if trivial. Overall, the presenter was going back and forth in history which gave an insight about the formation of the current status quo. In terms of content, the presenter was jumping back and forth without a clear timeline in historical events, which made it sometimes a bit confusing. In addition, I did not have the impression that the presenter answered the questions precisely, but drifted from the topics. Particularly interesting is listening to someone having a hands-on experience, and not only as an observer. The presenter had an advantage of working from both outside and inside the political arena, as a journalist then as a politician respectively. In addition, a remarkable note made by the author highlighted the bottom-line of the dilemma in Lebanon: demographic transition is the root of political demand for a representative electoral system. The question of minority representation and constitutional protection was informative to investigate the effectiveness of the laws that protect minorities rights and representations.  I wanted to ask the root causes of women underrepresentation but unfortunately there was no time. I recommend that the presenter be more precise when answering questions as there was a drift from the topic in question at many times, in addition that the presenter would have an organized narration of historical events in order to follow and make up an informed picture.

*  valuable insights into his previous tasks in the Lebanese parliament. I especially appreciated his historic overview and the changes in the Lebanese parliament which made it later easier to understand the obstacles in new electoral systems and to fully understand the importance of a well-designed electoral system for the upcoming elections. Furthermore, his explanation about Lebanon’s role in the global context of an emerging inter-confessional conflict were very interesting. The student’s question about the role of sectarianism in government jobs and the question about the legitimacy of the president were especially interesting for me, as HE Hamade’s responses were very insightful. I would have like to asked – again- if there are any young politicians that HE Hamade regards as capable of introducing change in the country.  Personally, I would be interested to further explore the role of foreign powers in Lebanese politics and especially electoral engineering.

* The speaker makes me aware about several issues such as half and half law implementation and the history of Sectarianism. In addition, I have acquired a lesson regarding how confessional thinking could lead to internal-civil wars. In case of Lebanon, there are three levels cause confessional bias; family role, different religions and confessions, and weapons existence. For me, discussing the blocked confessional system in Lebanon, the role of family in rushing the civil society, and the need of transition to make a progress for opening the windows for new Lebanon where particularly interesting. I think all the questions were very helpful, however, I especially appreciated the question made by one of our colleagues was about why most reforms were fail? Also is money existed in the elections and why weapons are considered an obstacle? I did ask a question about under which role the next president supposed to work with.

* MP Hamade gave a very insightful lecture on the possible Lebanese electoral reforms.As he stated , the electoral law mirrors the society’s structure. Being a member of a committee that was formed by the national dialogue and the parliament, he expreesed the various challenges faced to draft a consensus law on a new electoral system. Indeed, Lebanon is a complex mosaic-like country. It needs a tailored electoral system that would satisfy all parties. It was surprising to know that seventeen projects were submitted to challenge the existing electoral law. Today’s electoral law (1960 Law) does not accomodate the present demography. The main dispute lies in the difficulty to reflect the actual demography and meet the demands of the Christians. To elaborate more, during the sixties ratio of Christians to Muslims was 50/50, however, due to vast immigration of Christians and wide distribution of Muslims this ratio altered favoring the Muslim population. This imbalance created a gap in the parity balance in the constitution which states that Christian representation should be equivaent to the Muslim. A question arises, how could the districts be curved to hide this demographic assymetry? How could the electoral system conciliate the two groups which are disproportionately distributed yet equally represented in the constitution? As mentioned various laws were proposed. The most welcoming one is the MMP that combines the best of the two systems(Majoritarean and PR). It would live up to the Christian’s expectations  and consequently satisfy the Muslims. MP Hamade understands the complexity in modifying the system. As he said,” Yes, reforms have failed.” Lebanon is still exercising the Feudalistic system in which families play major roles. Moreover, the confessional system is a total blockage for advancement. Lebanon should work on a transitional period to secularize its parliament as the Taef agreement stated. In conclusion, MP Hamade has hope in the future of this country. He has hope in the youth. ” Change will come through this generation.”

* The presentation by Mr. Marwan Hamadeh was really interesting, it gave me new information about Lebanon and the demographic transition that happened over the years. As well as the electoral proposals that we read and studied, I now know the difference between a project and a proposal, and based on what both are presented. He also talked about some factors that affect the elections in Lebanon such as the families in specific areas that plays a role during elections and so. The question that was raised about minority protection and his reply to this question was interesting. Speaking from his background and experiences in various fields serving as minister and being a parliamentarian as well, he talked about what is at stake for the Lebanese society, and what should we put in the back of our mind while thinking about the law we will write about.

* The presentation was very well informative and interesting especially that Mr.Marwan Hamadé is very experienced politician who served in various capacities in different cabinets in addition to being a parliament member.  Mr.Hamadé has given us insights from his experience about the different electoral projects and propositions proposed to the parliament and characteristics of the Lebanese political and demographic structure that need to be taken into consideration when thinking about new electoral law for Lebanon. For me as an exchange student the presentation was really helpful to better understand how the political system works starting from 1930, Taif agreement and the situation now where Muslims are asking for fair representation according to the demographic change and the dilemma of designing an electoral formula that secure representation form the Christians and at the same time satisfactory to Muslims. I think that the question about the participation of Lebanese with dual nationality was help as well as the question regarding the over protection of minorities and unfair representation of women.


The ISJCR holds a conference on Sharia and Human Rights

posted on 03/10/2016

Beirut. October 2 – 3, 2016.

In collaboration with the Atlantic Council and with the support of Carnegie Corporation, the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution organized a two-day meeting of experts that addressed the relationship between Islamic Sharia and Human Rights laws in Muslim-majority countries.


The meeting aimed to bring together a broad array of regional stakeholders and international experts to collaborate and identify ways in which people in the Middle East can build and support governing institutions that offer legitimacy, opportunity, and conflict mitigation. 


During the two-day meeting, Legal scholars and researchers from United States, Canada, Turkey, and Arab countries examined Sharia-based laws in contemporary policies and practices throughout the Arab region.   The conferees highlighted major areas that require considerable consultation and examination as to mutualize human rights and Sharia laws in areas of consensus and mitigate areas of divergence.  Working groups were established in order to address special issues in formal and non-formal institutions.

Discussion with Dr. Hassan Krayem on the Prospects of Electoral Reform in Lebanon

posted on 29/09/2016

Lecture: Prospects of Electoral Reform in Lebanon

September 26, 2016 5:00 PM
Nicol 222, Beirut campus

The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and the Department of Social Sciences hosted a lecture titled “Prospects of Electoral Reform in Lebanon” by  Hassan Krayem.


Krayem holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Southern California in Comparative Politics and Economic Development. He has been working in the field of governance for the past 12 years as a governance policy specialist and governance program manager for UNDP country office in Lebanon. He has managed more than 20 projects in the areas of fiscal and economic governance, elections, administrative reform, justice reform, parliamentary development and human rights. Krayem has been working as a lecturer of political science at the American University of Beirut since 1998. He has written three books and more than 20 articles on Arab politics, democratization, elections and governance.

This event is part of Associate Professor Imad Salamey’s graduate seminar titled “Lebanese Electoral Politics”.

In the Press

Outlook grim for effective electoral reform in Lebanon


Daily Stars photo.jpg


A Lebanese flag flies as smoke rises from the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon June 3, 2007.

Reuters/Jerry Lampen

27 September 2016

BEIRUT: Opaque, inadequate laws consistently prevent fair and stable elections, Hassan Krayem, a governance program manager for the United Nations Development Program, explained Monday at a talk held at the Lebanese American University. Ahead of planned elections next summer, Krayem discussed historic and current issues preventing effective electoral reform, during a lecture titled “Prospects of Electoral Reform in Lebanon.”

 “We have a confessional system, and it is creating this entire problem,” explained the UNDP expert.

Krayem has managed numerous projects on economic and fiscal governance, elections, and parliamentary development at UNDP.

 “The No. 1 observation in Lebanon is that there has never been stability in legislation for the electoral law,” Krayem told a room of students. “The only period that witnessed some sort of stability was from 1960-1972.”

Krayem outlined the main causes and impacts of poor electoral legislation, starting with significant issues in advancing a functional government.

However, he highlighted the lack of parity between various confessional groups as an obstacle to a stable electoral law that satisfies all groups and ensures an unbiased outcome.

Lebanon’s push to agree upon a fair, efficient electoral law has ultimately been a failure, he explained.

In the ’40s and ’50s, gerrymandering was a consistent issue, and the reforms in 1960 were considered an indirect cause of Lebanon’s violent Civil War, Krayem said. But these issues also continued after the war.

“Only 30 percent voted in the elections [in 1992] because many Christians and residents of Beirut were boycotting [them],” Krayem added. This can be contrasted with the 2009 general election which saw around 50 percent turnout.

After detailing Lebanon’s failures to produce effective electoral reform, Krayem detailed current issues that could prevent consensus on an effective solution ahead of the potential vote in 2017.

“We have agreed in Lebanon to parity in everything – in representation between Christians and Muslims to respect such diversity within our country,” he began. “However, in real demography we don’t have this … and thus no matter what we do, there will be distortion.”

The sectarian imbalance isn’t the only contemporary issue. The global Lebanese diaspora has been barred voting rights during elections, but could have a massive impact on the outcome if enfranchised.

“Think about how many Lebanese are abroad, and I mean those who were born in Lebanon. Most of them are Christian, and they have no way to vote during the elections.”

While there will likely be challenges if elections go ahead next summer – not least due to the lack of a president – a vote shouldn’t be seen as a fix-all to national problems, Krayem said. “Elections are not an end by itself. They are a means. I don’t want elections because I love them, I want them because they create representation, a stable political system and allow for monitoring and oversight,” he concluded. “Otherwise there is no point in holding them.”


Audience Responses


On Monday, the 26th of September, Dr. Hasan Krayem discussed the dilemma of choosing an electoral system in divided societies. The speaker made us aware about several things; among those were: the fact that the civil war prevented any parliamentary elections thus preserving the same parliament-or what remained of it, according to Krayem, for 20 years; second, the significance of electoral aspects other than the electoral system and the district size, such as unified ballots, out of country voting, supervision and independent commission… I was specifically interested in the historical aspect of the discussion, the 1960s era and Chehabism… and it was important to know that several politicians back then, like Kamal Joumblatt and others were politically aware that this “religious representation” is taking the country to a deadlock, thus requesting a fully proportional and secular state.

Furthermore, it was also interesting to know more about the Boutros draft law, which according to Krayem, is the best law ever drafted in Lebanon because it didn’t only include a mixed system of both majoritarian (77 seats) and proportional (51 seats) representation, but also focused on other very essential aspects of elections. Very significant questions were asked, most importantly about the relation between the political and social contexts and the electoral system. If we had more time, I would have been interested in asking Krayem about his opinion regarding the recent political debate about the proportional law (last June) whereby Hassan Nasrallah supported implementing a fully proportional system, leading the Future Front to reply back that Hezbollah needs to disarm first before asking for a proportional law; and it would have also been  interesting to discuss the recent suggestion by Nabih Berry for a proportional law along with dividing the country into 13 electoral districts.


The presentation was interesting and beneficial to the material of the course. It made me aware that in this country instead of establishing a modern electoral system we went back to an old one from 1960 and before every single election we need a new electoral law depending on the political context. The most interesting part was about the history of the electoral laws in Lebanon, from 1958 till 2009, and the Boutros Law. The most interesting questions were the one about Boutros Law because I didn’t know anything about that law before, and also the one about political agreement being more important than establishing an electoral law made sense in the context of the discussion. I wanted to ask another question about the possibility of establishing a senate in Lebanon and if we do, how will it be formed and how the representatives would be elected. We could explore in the future the possibility of establishing a senate as well as how exactly should we integrate women and youth into being representatives.

The presentation was comprehensive in providing a deeper historical background of the current problems of choosing an electoral system in Lebanon. The speaker has raised awareness about how culture and tradition still stand as barriers in changing many essential factors, such as representation of women. He also provided a smooth historical insight and how the Lebanese politics transited from one phase to the other, and how the problems of trust are bolstered between interest groups. It was not clear though, how the civil war phase contributed to the problems (meaning who was with/against whom, how it shifted cooperation between interest groups).  The most interesting part is how the speaker is being realistic about the situation, due to many persistent factors that are at least hard to change. It was interesting also to know more about how Syria affected the political transition in Lebanon, and how the complicated situation was exacerbating the problems of Lebanese politics.  The first question about the concerns of Muslims and Christians in terms of electoral districts and voting mechanism was intriguing, as it highlighted how different interest groups weigh perspectives versus each other in choosing an electoral system.  d. I also wanted to ask about the role of judiciary system and the constitutionality of the laws and the current government, but it was already tackled by a colleague. The answer to it made it clear how complicated the situation is, since the judiciary didn’t sound like an independent body.


I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Krayem’s presentation. I liked that he has extensive knowledge about the Lebanese system and political history.  The most interesting part about the discussion was perhaps the historic perspective with regards to the Lebanese Parliament and its stagnation and failure to adopt a unified electoral system which results in political instability each time election time comes about. I liked Mohamad’s Question regarding the political agreement and lack of achievements during the past years which I think Dr. Krayem did not answer. In all countries around the world governments are held accountable for their agenda setting and how much of that agenda they achieved during their time in power, However the Lebanese Government despite its lingering presence has no goals or objectives that have been met. I would have liked to ask Dr. Krayem to suggest possible electoral systems that might work in the Lebanese context. Given his expertise I would have liked for him to explore more actual details about potential electoral systems that might be useful in coming up with a new draft electoral law besides the Boutros law. It was very frustrating that he exclusively bound the success of an electoral system to the political agreement and that there is nothing else to do but wait for them to reach a compromise.

Over all, I found the presentation to be very insightful and interesting. Dr Krayem really informed me of the problems in Lebanon’s political system; all of which contribute to Lebanon’s current situation. What I found particularly interesting was the discussion of previous elections and how different laws were implemented in each, following the 1960-1972 Fouad Chehab reform. I also enjoyed the discussion of how the death of the president of a neighboring country (Hafez Al Assad in Syria) lead to political struggle in Lebanon amongst the Lebanese & Syrians, and how this struggle was apparent amongst the separation of Lebanese political figures (By Hariri & Jumblatt forming an alliance). I found Hala’s question insightful, in regards to why we aren’t using the Boutros law, though it is a well drafted law. Unfortunately, like many aspects in Lebanon, the law wasn’t taken seriously by the political class. I would have liked to ask Dr. Krayem about his personal opinion on the upcoming law for the 2017(hopefully) elections; is it possible that Lebanon will stick to an election system here on out? All in all, I highly enjoyed the discussion presented by Dr. Krayem, though I think 2 hours is not enough to discuss Lebanon’s political system.

Dr. Krayem is an expert in his domain explaining the root causes of Lebanese fractured and sectarian politics. To understand Lebanese politics today, it is essential to study its history. Indeed, Dr. Krayem went briefly through the Lebanese history explaining who made our Electoral Systems. With the three main Electoral Systems (Majoritarian, PR, Mixed systems), Lebanon chose to have a Majoritarian system (Block Vote) based on a confessional division in the House of Representatives ( ratio 5:5 Christian to Muslim). Lebanon has been witnessing a continuous struggle between different sectarian groups. The only period of stability, as Dr. Krayem notes, was seen during President’s Chehab’s administration (1960-1972). President Chehab, known as a reformist, followed a new electoral system which divided Lebanon into five administrative districts with 26 provinces. The 1960 Electoral Law had been also used during the 2009 elections after the Doha Agreement. There are no enhanced reformed Draft Electoral Laws that are being used despite of new drafted Laws such as Boutros Law which divides Lebanon into 77 administrative districts and 51 provinces. As Dr. Krayem states, “The same MPs are drafting the law, so do you think they would draft a law that would work against them?” he is right, we are asking the same politicians who have been in power for 30+ years to draft an Electoral Law that would be more representative and thus may endanger their existence. Hence, Lebanese politicians depend on old Electoral Laws with minor modifications to ensure their re-election.Political elites divide Lebanon into such districts that would determine the winners and the losers even before the Election Day, what is also known as gerrymandering. Dr. Krayem added that there is a problem within the society itself. The Lebanese demography has shifted and the parity which had been agreed on (5:5) is no longer applicable with the estimated real demography today. However, Dr. Krayem proposes to keep the parity as it is in the constitution and reform anything beyond it. Realpolitik, on the other hand, shows that Lebanese elites would not reform anything that would minimize their existence. What could be done is to focus on less threatening issues for sectarian elites such as introduce a ballot paper, supervise the elections, ensure independency, follow automated out of country voting, control for spending and secure women’s representation. These modifications would enhance and advance the Electoral System. As Krayem notes, “Elections is a means for representation and not an end.” For Lebanese elites it is an end by itself to reproduce the same sectarian system. What would be the solution to end this ever-lasting conflict? “Patience”, said Dr. Krayem. It was a very impressive and informative discussion that examined the reality the Lebanese population is living.

Conference: “Access to Justice for Syrian Communities – Formal Challenges, Informal Opportunities”

posted on 20/09/2016

September 22–23, 2016

UNESCO-International Center for Human Sciences, Byblos, LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR), the Department of Social Sciences at LAU, UNESCO-CISH, and International Alert (IA) organized a final conference titled: “Access to Justice for Syrian Communities - Formal Challenges, Informal Opportunities”.

The conference concludes a two-year research project that has probed into Syrian communities’ access to formal and informal justice in Lebanon through the lens of various methodologies. The project is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and implemented by a research consortium bringing together CISH, the Lebanese American University and International Alert. The research consortium is led by CISH. 

While there is a plethora of writings and reports on Syrian communities’ livelihoods, little do we know about the conditions impacting their justice concerns, and their recourse patterns to formal and informal justice mechanisms. Moreover, there is paucity of research when it comes to mapping actors involved in the making of formal and informal refugee justice in Lebanon. More broadly, there is scarcity of research in the region on how justice is to be understood and conceptualized in the wake of the post-2011 displacement crises and their implications for Syria’s bordering countries. With this background, the conference will not only conceptualize justice as the regulation of conduct through the judiciary prism, but will also debate ‘access to justice’ through various forms of conflict regulation and mediation that are extra-judicial (e.g. intervention of a third party, adjudication by an authoritative figure, community-based participative approaches). 

Favoring a multi-stakeholder approach, the conference aims to spark a conversation between academics and practitioners on the meaning and forms of access to justice for displaced Syrians in addition to the tensions and opportunities that displacement brings along. It will adopt a mixed approach that generates on the one hand knowledge on forms of justice mechanisms, and that informs on the other the crafting of rights-based national and international policy frameworks. In broader perspective, the conference aims to foster policy and social learning from other cases and regions with a view to promoting justice in fragile contexts lacking well-defined asylum regimes and subject to various geopolitical constraints. 

Click here for more information on the conference, speakers, and program.


In the Press

Residency systems restrict access to justice for Syrian refugees, study finds

Experts agreed on the disconnect between government policies and the daily struggles of refugee communities.

October 3, 2016—

A new system of residency introduced for Syrian refugees in 2014 has resulted in half the Syrian population of Lebanon becoming illegal immigrants with limited or no access to the formal justice system. This has further increased their vulnerability.

These are among the conclusions of a two-year research program conducted by LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR), together with International Alert (IA) and the UNESCO International Center for Human Sciences (CISH). The study was last week crowned with a conference entitled ‘Access to Justice for Syrian Communities – Formal Challenges, Informal Opportunities.’

No write-up could do justice to the wealth of information shared during the two-day event by about 20 researchers and practitioners, who presented their own relevant experiences, statistics, quotes and insights into the lives and challenges of Syrian communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Tamirace Fakhoury, assistant professor of Political Science at LAU and associate director of the ISJCR, and Karim El Mufti, researcher at CISH, exposed some of the many findings they made over the past two years during which they conducted interviews with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and reviewed hundreds of court cases against Syrians.

Forty percent of prisoners in Lebanon are Syrian, of which 63 percent are on pre-trial detention. Given that over 40 percent of Syrians who go to court are charged with offenses directly related to their vulnerable status, such as possessing forged or nonofficial documents, El Mufti argued that the system is flawed, contradicts international law and highlights the need for a sustainable and sensible approach to the refugee population in Lebanon.

“Lebanon entered panic mode in 2014, closing its borders, issuing 11 obscure categories for visas, deporting vulnerable refugees, halting UNHCR registration, and accusing refugees of social and economic problems,” the researcher explained. “The current policy, as highlighted by our interviews, is to make legal stay as unreachable as possible and make actual stay as uncomfortable as possible.”

As a result of this approach, more than 500,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon are now considered to be illegal immigrants. This status prevents them from accessing a formal justice system that has already been brought into disrepute by corrupt practices, said Director of the Brehon Institute Shelley Dean on the second day of the conference.

“Informal justice systems are prompt, cost efficient and deliver sound verdicts faster than formal systems,” said Dean, arguing for a greater understanding of such systems by international organizations that are assisting and developing Syrian refugee communities.

Others, including Ph.D. student Ann-Christin Wagner who lives among Syrian refugees in the north Jordanian town of Mafraq, and Şenay Özden of the Hamisch Syrian Cultural House in Istanbul, shed light on the challenges faced by Syrians in Jordan and Turkey, and the options available to them.

“Jordan agreed to issue 50,000 work permits to Syrians and waive the application fee, but they did not understand that most Syrians are not interested in the work permit. Labor is mostly informal in Jordan in any case, and they don’t want to lose access to humanitarian assistance,” said Wagner, highlighting the disconnect between government policies and the daily struggles of refugee communities.


Bringing the conference to a close with a personal and impassioned address was Fadi Hallisso, director of Basmeh & Zeitooneh for Relief and Development. “When we started working in Lebanon we had a dream of working together with Lebanon to establish a historic peace…. But there is a total lack of dialogue between Lebanon and the Syrian community. There is no consultation. We must acknowledge that the residency system in Lebanon is classist and is restricting access to justice for the most vulnerable.”

ندوة حول تأثير الحملات الإعلامية للوقاية من المخدرات على سلوكيات الشباب

posted on 29/06/2016



ندوة في الجامعة اللبنانية - الأميركية عن الإعلام والمخدرات



يارا عرجة

29 حزيران 2016 | 16:33

هلّأ لوين” عنوان فيلم من إخراج اللبنانية نادين لبكي أحرز جوائز عالمية عدة على فكرته وإخراجه المميزين. ولعلّ أبرز الرسائل التي يحملها الفيلم للمشاهد تكمن في إلغاء الطائفية عبر تعاطي المخدرات أو “الحشيشة”. ولكن، ما لا تعلمه لبكي هو مدى تأثير فيلمها بشكل خطر على شريحة من المشاهدين: فثمّة امرأة كانت تضع أغنية “حشيشة قلبي” الواردة في الفيلم لتعود وتسمعها مراراً وتكراراً، فوقعت ضحيّة الحشيشة وصارت أسيرة المخدرات. حالها حال ذلك الشاب المغروم بفتاة من طائفة غير طائفته، شاهد هو أيضاً الفيلم فأراد التخلّص من عبء الهمّ الذي يثقل أكتافه إثر تلك العلاقة من خلال تعاطي الحشيشة.

ليست لبكي المذنبة الوحيدة لترويجها للمخدرات لا إرادياً وعن غير وعي في فيلمها، فالإعلام له دور في ذلك أيضاً لكونه يبثّ الفيلم على الشاشات التلفزيونية من حين إلى آخر من دون حسيب أو رقيب. ناهيك ببرامج الفكاهة والكوميديا التي يعمد من خلالها الإعلاميون على الترويج للمخدرات من طريق “المزاح”. ولكن سرعان ما يتحوّل المزاح جداً، فيصير الإنسان تالياً “متعاطياً”، يعاني الخلط الذهني التسممي والتفكير الاضطهادي والهلوسة، فيفقد حريّته وإرادته لتكبّل الحشيشة ذهنه ويداه. من هنا، برزت أهمية دور الإعلام في الترويج للمخدرات أو التوعية ضدها، لأنه سلاح ذو حدان.
في هذا الإطار ولمناسبة اليوم العالمي ضد المخدرات، عقدت مؤسسة “مينتور” العربية لوقاية الأطفال والشباب من المخدرات، ندوة في كليّة عدنان القصار لإدارة الأعمال في الجامعة اللبنانية - الأميركية في 23 حزيران 2016. أطلقت المؤسسة من خلاله دراسة دلالية حول “تأثير الحملات الإعلامية للوقاية من المخدرات على سلوكيات الشباب الوقائية. Drug Prevention audience.jpg ”

كان للإعلامية غيدا مجذوب كلمة ترحيبية سلّطت الضوء من خلالها على إمكان الوسائل الإعلامية حمل رسائل توجيهية للمشاهد، مشددة على الخطر الذي من الممكن أن تحمله تلك الرسائل وعلى قدرة البعض أن يجذبوا أصدقاءهم إلى عالم المخدرات من دون علمهم. وكان للمديرة التنفيذية لـ “مينتور” العربية ثريا اسماعيل كلمتها أيضاً شدّدت فيها على أهمية البرامج الوقائية في الحدّ من السلوكات الخطرة لدى الشباب. وهي تؤكّد كذلك على أهميّة التواصل في كنف الأسرة، لأنّ غيابه يؤدي إلى أضرار قد تترتّب على الضحية، وعلى أهميّة الحملات الإعلامية الوقائية أيضاً. وهي تدعو إلى توحيد اللغة الإعلامية من أجل مخاطبة الأطفال والمراهقين لردعهم من الوقوع في فخ المخدرات. من جهتها، تحدّثت البروفسورة والمحللة النفسية رندة شليطا عن أهمية دور الحملات التوعوية للوقاية من المخدرات بين الشباب، لكون الحملات الدعائية تعمل وفق منحى معيّن. فبإمكان هذه الوسائل أن تكون إما ترغيبية أو ترهيبية، من هنا يبرز دور الإعلام الرئيسي في التنسيق. وهي تشدد على ضرورة إدخال المبادئ في فترة البلوغ للطفل، وهي بين 6 و12 سنة، لأنّه من غير الممكن الدخول في عقل المتعاطي بعدما دخل المجال، لأنه ليس لديه الحسّ بالمسؤولية ولا يشعر بالإنتماء لا بل باليأس، فشخصية المتعاطي شخصية سادية. وهي تحض على مزيد من الحملات الإعلانية تضيء على مخاطر المخدرات والتدخين. أمّا المداخلة الأخيرة فكانت لمدير مركز العدالة الاجتماعية وحلّ النزاعات في الجامعة اللبنانية - الأميركية الدكتور عماد سلامة، الذي اعتبر أن الهدف الرئيسي من البحث هو الكشف عن “تأثير الحملات الإعلامية للوقاية من المخدرات على سلوكيات الشباب الوقائية”، وقد أجري على مشتركين من الإمارات والمملكة العربية السعودية والكويت، تراوح أعمارهم بين 18 و 30 سنة. وقد بيّنت نتائج الدراسة أنّ الشباب العربي يستخدم الإعلام ولا سيّما منها وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي كثيراً، إذ انحسرت شعبية محطات التلفزة والإذاعات في حياة الشبان لصالح وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي. وتبيّن كذلك أن ما يزيد على نصف العيّنة المستبحثة اطلعوا على الحملات الإعلامية هذه، والتي كونت لديهم نوعاً من الوقاية مبنياً على التخويف. وكان هؤلاء الأشخاص أكثر علماً ويقيناً بأهميّة التمكين الذاتي والتحكم بالذات باعتبارهما السبيل الأبرز للوقاية من خطر المخدرات.

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وكان اختلاف السلوكيات الوقائية مرتبطاً باختلاف الوسيط الإعلامي، إذ تأثر مشاهدو المحطات التلفزيونية بحملات الوقاية المبنية على الخوف في حين شعر مستخدمو وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي والرسائل القصيرة بالانتماء الجماعي والوقاية في ظلّ المسؤولية الاجتماعية. وأخيراً، تشير الدراسة إلى أنّ حملات الكويت الإعلامية كانت الأكثر فاعلية في تعزيز السلوكيات المناهضة لاستخدام المخدرات، بينما كانت الحملات السعودية ترتكز على عامل الخوف، والإمارات كانت استراتجياتها الوقائية مبنية على السياسات.


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Discussion with Dr. Carmen Geha: Comparing Transition and Constraints from the Perspective of Civil Society Movements

posted on 03/05/2016

Beirut, April 19, 2016. AUB Assistant Professor of Public Administration Dr. Carmen Geha discussed civil society movements in Libya and Lebanon during a special guest speaking presentation hosted by the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution at the Lebanese American University. 


Institute’s director Dr. Imad Salamey and International Affairs student Rayan Dib introduced Dr. Geha and highlighted her background as an activist and scholar.  Then, Dr. Geha presented her research work and her latest book publication Civil Society and Political Reform in Lebanon and Libya: Transition and constraint that examined the failure and success of civil society movements in driving political reforms in Lebanon and Libya. 

According to Geha, similarities between both countries have driven her comparative research. First, both countries are struggling with power sharing and consensus politics. Second, both have weak state institutions. “[The state] is not a guarantor of citizenship and equal rights”, she noted. Third, even though numerous NGOs operate in both countries, their effectiveness in the political realm is quite limited.


When explaining how civil society movements induce transition and change, Dr. Geha pointed out that “during critical historic junctures opening opportunities through mass action increase the possibilities for change”.

Dr. Geha’s study reveals civil society is in dire need to reassess strategic intervention that insinuate political reforms, most critically is to expand its reach to groups beyond the educated middle class.  Forging a wider and more effective and enduring alliances. This includes building coalitions during non-critical times as opposed to just reacting to events.

Dr. Geha emphasized the central role the youth can play to energize social movements and in injecting new ideas for change.  Striking the balance between realist and utopian’s attainment for political change may produce success. Professor Geha speaking was concluded by a lively interaction with the audience.


Audience Responses: Comparing Transition and Constraints from the Perspective of Civil Society Movements

Today’s presentation and Q&A by Dr. Carmen Geha was very interesting and insightful. She made a comparative analysis about the social movements in Libya and Lebanon. Her main topic of research was why the civil society is not successful in political processes when trying to make a change, especially during transitional times, in these two countries. I was made aware of the three main attributes between Lebanon and Libya that are similar. First the power-sharing system in both countries, that leaves out the civil society from political processes and overall the negative aspects of such a system with respect to the civil society. Second, both countries display weak institutions and states that do not push for change during critical times and lastly, the social movements in both countries were dynamic. What i found interesting was the fact that activists should not only take action during critical times, but also during non-critical times. What I also found notable was the fact that social movements should seek alliance to build a stronger case, not necessarily from political parties, but from religious groups or private corporations which are relevant to the case at hand. An interesting question was made about the “You Stink” movement, and about whether or not its lack of success and inability to bring a change in the end result was due to the fact that it wasn’t initiated at a critical moment. The speaker said that this issue and social movement is a protracted one, and that is why it was hard to unite and reach success, especially when the activists are not experienced. The talk was overall very interesting, the Q&A was also insightful and the speaker was very responsive and helpful.

The guest speaker was Dr. Carmen Geha who presented a comparative study on the civil society movements in Libya and Lebanon. Dr. Geha was a brilliant speaker and the topic was the most interesting to me so far. She made me aware that effective civil society movements take place during certain junctures, which are the appropriate time for action. It was particularly interesting to me that weak states which allow room for external controlling groups promote an ineffective civil society. Several interesting questions were asked, like why she chose to compare Libya, and not another country, to Lebanon. I also asked her some questions, such as whether an ineffective state could be the explanation behind the futility of the You Stink movement. I find social movements in general to be an interesting topic and I would like us to explore in depth this issue in the future. 

Today’s speaker was very interesting because she talked about similarities between Libya and Lebanon. Her research is based on surveys and interviews in Libya which is interesting because Libya is a country that was far from the media lights and its population could not speak. So through her interviews she gave Libyan an opportunity to express their opinion. One thing that really caught my attention is that she says that even though the Arab spring occurred, things have not changed a lot and we go back to the same cycle; if things are made in a way it is really hard to change them (to go from authoritarian regime to democracies). This idea was really interesting because in Lebanon and in the Arab World this is what happening today.

Assistant Professor Carmen Geha was not only so knowledgeable about the topic of social movements but also capable of explaining her topic so clearly. The order by which she presented the comparison between Libya and Lebanon was logical and interesting. Her experience as an activist for 10 years was also vivid. Subtitles included the influence of social movements during transitions, their challenges, disappointments, the importance of critical junctures, path dependent theory… Everything she talked about was close to what we have learned. We could easily follow up and engage with her and this was clear by the Q/As that were exchanged. Another interesting topic was the similar features between Lebanon and Libya: power sharing system, weak state institutions, and civil society organizations. What caught my attention the most was the question of why it is hard to induce change in Lebanon. Reasons are: coexistence, political leaders, and Nizam Taifi. The discussion was so interesting and tangible more than simply theoretical. Personally, I would be interested in attending more of Geha’s lectures. She is so knowledgeable and can tell a lot about social movements in a very logical and practical manner.

I enjoyed Dr Geha’s lecture and thought that the subject of focus was extremely interesting. A comparison between Libya and Lebanon in terms of the systems in place allowed for similarities to be recognized. Both Libya and Lebanon have power-sharing systems, Libya is currently transitioning into one with the incorporation of representation. Power-shared systems inevitably lead to confinement and a change in policy, laws and decisions requires consensus. They both have weak institutions, and political leaders or power brokers that are of great importance. I liked how the Doctor spoke of NGO’S and their vital role in civil society. According to studies there are about 9,000 NGO’S in Lebanon and 3,000 organizations in Libya. But hardly any of these organizations deal with political reform processes, some do but there are not enough who capable of aiding political change. Another comment made during the lecture was that activists should make use of non-critical times to strategize. Which I think, is key to developing strategies of action, and also important for gathering support. The studies conducted in Libya were new to me, and the lecturer’s analysis was unique in the sense of an on the ground comprehensive study
(In libya). One of the studies conducted was a question that I asked at the end of the class. The question that I asked was about the demands of the Libyan youth, and the answer involved four concepts. When the lecturer was conducting her studies, she found that most Libyan youth wanted rotation over power, economic activity , new laws of association and a plan for public morality.

Dr. Carmen Geha worked with a transparency group in order to monitor elections and see why people start off enthusiastic and big then lose that in the end. She stated that the Arab spring allows political change to occur and is an important critical juncture. Geha also adds that the mass population wants change but politicians stop it. She names 3 attributes that left out civil society from political action: Power sharing which is a form of democracy that leads to confinement, weak state institutions meaning the state is not the protector of the citizens to the extent that there are other militias that don’t belong to the state itself, and civil society organizations that were dynamics; Geha includes a comparison between Lebanon and Libya where she says that in 2 years 3000 NGO’s appeared in Libya that were working on different issues, where as in Lebanon there are 9000 NGO’s, stating that in both countries all NGOs are ineffective. In her presentation, she introduces the reasons for the lack of critical change in Lebanon. First comes the concept of co-existence, then comes the problem of ‘zoaama’ powerful leaders that are not necessarily in a formal position, and lastly sectarianism in Lebanon and regionalism in Libya.

It was a very interesting presentation full of comparison that relates to our course, but precisely due to the fact that she was able to track down bribery in Lebanon.


It was an honor to have such a competent and knowledgeable guest speaker, Dr. Carmen Geha, who showed impressive passion about the subject. She managed to make it a very engaging and interesting discussion and answered the questions of my fellow classmates with the utmost professionalism and insight concerning the issue of social movements. Dr. Geha, after having been an activist for 10 years, realized that the efforts of the social movements often yielded no substantial change. Seeing this, she dug deep behind the reason as to why social movements have become disappointing. According to her findings, the possibility for change or ‘reform’ is characterized by a strong external force or shock. That is, a moment of political change results from a critical change at the level of the state itself. From her findings, Dr. Geha found three common attributes between Lebanon and Libya which included;

1- The power sharing system, which is characterized by establishing an agreement between conflicting parties that often leads to confinement and deadlock

2- Weak state institutions, which is manifested by the state not being the only holder of armed forces.

3- The large range of organizations that rarely lead to political change

As a political science/international affairs student, I was interested in the third attribute the most. I asked Dr. Geha the reason behind the fact that, despite having many NGOs in Lebanon, only a handful of them actually make a difference in the political domain. According to her, political reform has a higher chance of occurring when there is a strong external factor that influences the state. However, she encouraged us, as the youth, to engage in the political sector, because it might make a difference on the long run.

Dr. Carmen Geha led both an informative and engaging discussion which was completely relevant to the chapter we were taking with Dr. Imad Salamey, which is the chapter on Social Movements. She gave us a more practical approach than that of the book, since she actually presented us with quantitative data that she both collected and processed during her study. It was quite the privilege to be part of the discussion since she displayed a great deal of interest and passion about the subject. She spoke so freely and confidently about the subject and it was quite hard not to listen to the discussion or even get involved and ask questions. Thank you for the great opportunity, Dr. Salamey, it was truly an honor to have Dr. Geha.

Carmen Geha is a civil society activist who has contributed to founding a number of leading NGOs and campaigns on issues of electoral systems, access to information, and anti-sectarianism. Civil society and social movements are very good in providing services at a local level and raising awareness but when it comes to politics it seems not to be influential particularly during transitions. She wanted to understand first at the intuitive level what is making young people disappointed and second what explains those challenges trying to make this change. So, she decided to work on two cases for particular type of civil society organizations such as FDL and LADI which are those working on political change so she worked on election case study in Lebanon and worked on the constitutional development case study in Libya where organizations have been using dialogue, raising awareness, using training and trying to influence apolitical power and she says she uses the world political because she wants to differentiate so we are not disappointed at the global level. There are many organizations not perhaps even political reformed where she gave an example of response to Syrian refugees in Lebanon which has been highly dependent on the existence of civil society organizations so this doesn’t mean that such organizations in the Arab world are disappointing but in political functions its disappointing. It started former in a very intuitive manner where she wanted to know why people were first very enthusiastic and weren’t able to effect the change so she had to come up with a framework and chose to work with the critical junctions and its very helpful if we want to look at comparative cases of social movements and political opportunity. There are critical junctions in a political system where there are moments where there is an increased possibility of change. I was very interested by what she said about critical junctions being able to lead to a change where she said any external sock being able to create a critical moment can be considered as a moment of history where political change can occur. What was happening in both cases she was studying is that these critical moments led to a small change because of path dependent theory. She said there are three similar features between Lebanon and Libya: First, the power sharing system which leaves out civil society. Second, both countries have weak state institutions where state can’t push for change because political actors are outside the state. Third, civil society organizations are many but far from political reform which is means is ineffective in politics. In addition, she also mentioned that Lebanon has no change because of three intricacies: coexistence, political leaders and the system (Nizam taaifi). They wanted to discuss freedoms, resources, and governance systems. Libya started to exhibit prolonged deadlock which means division over which government and which parliament and what constituent assembly they want to have. Thus, in 2013 there was a government split because they couldn’t agree on who is going to write the formation of this constitution where some people wanted elections while others wanted appointment. She concludes that we have to look at these intricacies in these countries coming from the system where we need to know what coexistence is and what regional conflict is so we have to think of the role of Loading…Organizations and social movement. She was recommended to conclude her book with three things: First, this issue of critical junction ad revolution is very important but we also need to know the issue of timing that activists should use. The second criticism was the issue of building alliances where they succeed at a certain time but don’t succeed in building alliances to support their causes. The third issue that came out waste issue of strategy where in both countries the advocates were saying that this advocacy approach doesn’t work because the state isn’t structuring public participation when we advocate for something we look at it like who is deciding that issue.

Our guest speaker on Tuesday was Carmen Geha who mostly compared social movements in Libya and Lebanon. she stressed mainly on why before 2011 why were social movements unable to achieve change. after the Arab spring she went to Libya and right after the liberation of Benghazi and Tripoli. she surveyed talked and interviewed the people who were living there. by the time she left the people already have become disappointed by the result.  she also worked on electoral reform. she said that both countries display weak state institutions. state does not protect the citizens and are not a guarantor of equal citizenship. we also talked and discussed about the you stink movement if it failed or succeeded. it was a very interesting topic that we discussed with Carmen Geha and it was more of a debate that turned the presentation more interesting. now i have more clear ideas how and why social movements fail or are successful and also what are their main purposes. i would like to see Carmen Geha visiting us again and share her experiences even more that shed had encountered in Lybia.



LAU Hosts YATA Delegation

posted on 31/03/2016

On March 24 Danish members at the Youths Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) discussed the political system of Denmark and youth activism at the Lebanese American University’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution.  The delegates were introduced by the Institute Director Dr. Imad Salamey.

danemark_.jpgThe delegation compared the Danish system to that of other countries including Lebanon. Members explained the work of the YATA as a an organization of  the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), YATA’s history, its mission, and its roles that include raising awareness about international affairs and relations among states in addition to organizing study trips in different countries.

Members also explained the Danish political system starting with the structure of its government. “Denmark is a constitutional monarchy” with a queen and three branches of government “divided according to Montesquieu’s division of power principle.” The legislative is elected by the population, the executive is formed by and from members of parliament, while the judiciary “is not politicized” and independently formed and managed. A concept that was introduced was the distinction between positive and negative parliamentarism. Denmark endorses negative parliamentarism which implies that the executive does not need to secure the support of or be formed by the majority of members of parliament in order to function. For example, the executive in Denmark now represents 20% of the parliament. 


Students and delegates engaged in several discussions and questions about the nature of the 9 main political parties of the Danish parliament, their role as “agenda setters” and their funding by the state to prevent corruption (Denmark funds parties with more than $100 million per year). Also there were discussions about interest groups and the level of engagement of youths in the political realm. Everyone agreed that the youth political participation is low- not only in Denmark but globally- despite the fact that youths do engage in other civic activities that are more humanitarian than political.

Audience showed interest in the Danish case especially that it shares several similarities with the Lebanese system. These include a wide gap between the political class and the public, the big number of parties, as well as similar organizational structures in the two systems.





Discussion with Dr. Faten Ghosn Analyzing Peace Agreements in Identity Conflicts

posted on 08/03/2016

Analyzing Peace Agreements in Identity Conflicts

March 8, 2016 5:00 PM–6:30 PM
Nicol Hall 222, Beirut campus

The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution hosted a discussion with Dr. Faten Ghosn on Analyzing Peace Agreements in Identity Conflicts.

Faten Ghosn Discussion.jpg

Ghosn received her B.A. and M.A. from the American University of Beirut, and her Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. Her research and teaching interests focus on the interaction of adversaries, be they conflictual or cooperative. In particular, she has been interested in how such actors handle their disagreements. A common theme running throughout her professional interests is the importance of the choice of strategy that is picked by the adversaries to manage their conflicts. Her articles have appeared in Conflict Management and Peace Science, International Negotiation, International Studies Quarterly, as well as Middle East Journal.

This event is part of Associate Professor Imad Salamey’s graduate seminar titled “Comparative Political Systems”.

Responses from Audience

Dr. Faten Ghosen gave a very insightful and valuable presentation about the importance of identity politics in peace agreements. Since 1945, conflicts are being viewed as intra-state rather than inter-state. Moreover, since 2008, 100% of the intra-state conflict are identity based. With the rise of these conflicts, peace agreements increased in order to end them. However, they were mostly unsuccessful. Peace still seems to be illusive in many cases. Dr. Ghosen through a comparative study, tried to answer why some peace agreements failed while others where more successful. Based on her study on Rwanda and Northern Ireland, she came up with a conclusion that unless basic needs such as participation, security and recognition are met, the agreement would fail. Hence, in order to obtain an endured peace agreement there must be acceptance of each side’s recognition, participation and security. In addition to that, her other comparative studies show that ethnic polarization leads to civil war which in turn lasts longer. Thus, negotiation is hard to attain and it is more likely to break down. The reason to this is that identity conflict didn’t receive much attention in peace treaties. She asserts that most peace treaties didn’t include security issues which would ensure collective security to different parties. Moreover, it lacked the issue of participation which insures that all parties participate fairly in the public sphere, thus refraining particular identities dominating the other. Lastly, these treaties lacked identity recognition. All parties should be politically recognized, dismissing the matter of us versus them. The failure to include all these needs would result the recurrence of the civil war. Therefore, identity acceptance in agreements is essential. Her findings suggest that agreements tend to address one of the issues while ignoring the others. The combination of the three needs in an agreement can bring peace in a country with deep ethnic cleavages. Her presentation gave an insightful knowledge that could be correlated to what is happening today in the Middle East. Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya are all facing these sectarian identity problems. Policy makers ought to take into consideration identity politics if they want to end the brutal identity based conflicts. Her presentation was an example of a comparative study about peace agreements. Comparing different peace agreements based on identity politics would be essential to show the drawbacks of each, thus, suggest a successful peace agreement that would accommodate the country. In conclusion, Dr. Imad Salamey asked a very interesting question “ How will a peace agreement in Syria recognize which group would participate and will a power-sharing model be relevant?” Another interesting question revolved around the Ta’if accord adopted in Lebanon. This leads me to ask a question “ By institutionalizing identities, don’t we further harden and reproduce them?” That was the case in Lebanon where identities become hardened and further sectarianized rather than ameliorated. Moreover, How could we ensure inter-ethnic accommodation? It was my pleasure to attend this presentation since it raised many new questions that are worth exploring.


We have received among us today via skype Dr. Faten Ghosn— a PhD holder from Pennsylvania State University— who has attempted to discuss with us peace agreements in identity conflicts. According to our speaker and in most recent years, most intrastate conflicts have been identity based, constituting protracted social conflicts. In fact, and for the past two decades or so, 70% of all civil wars around the world have been mostly ethnic-related, but that percentage keeps on exponentially growing. And although we have witnessed an increase in the number of Peace Agreements decreed that have been mainly inclusive of all actors involvement and cease-fires, peace still seems to be elusive. So what seems to be the missing elements of an ideal and enduring Peace Agreement? By actually resorting to a comparative analysis of the frail Arusha Peace Accords of the Rwandan conflict VS The unwavering Good Friday Agreement of Ireland, Dr. Ghosn has raised awareness to the vitality of having efficient Peace Agreements addressing pivotal elements such as all parties recognition (cultural, birth rights, religious), identity preservation and power-sharing, as well as clauses asserting collective security. However, it has been interestingly highlighted to us, during this discussion, that it wasn’t until 1989 to 1997 that we have started seeing identity recognition (through acknowledgement of customs, language, and culture) as well as collective security mechanisms being increasingly integrated in Peace Agreements! what has been furthermore interesting is that conflict-resolution accords which did not include such clauses had failed in approximately 9 months on average, acording to observations communicated to us by our speaker. Some of the questions that have been asked and which I have personally deemed helpful were 1)Nour’s question: “Do you think you can have a Peace Agreement which could tend to the needs of all parties involved in the Syrian conflict?”, to which Dr. Ghosn had answered: “identifying main parties involved in the Syrian conflict, we can pinpoint the civil society, the rebels, the regime, as well as other ethnic groups. When we talk about needs it is surely not a need to want to establish an Islamic state, as this is an interest and not a need. One of the main needs on the other hand is to ensure the Sunnis equal opportunities as Alawites, that political participation is not rigged in any way, and yes, surely a good Peace Agreement can include the needs of these parties, to ensure that all their human rights are respected”. As to the one question I would have liked to ask but didn’t is whether our speaker could see a Peace Agreement such as the Daytona of Bosnia working out for the current Syrian conflict. I honestly have no recommendations to present, I thought the discussion had went well except for the many fascinating things our speaker had stated that I would’ve liked to document on paper, but did not find the time as she is one hell of a fast speaker :)

I absolutely loved Dr. Faten Ghosson’s presentation on identity conflict. She made me more aware of the prominence of ethnic conflict, and intra-state conflict, versus inter-state conflict. I learnt that, regarding ethnic conflict resolution,  peace agreements do not necessarily end the conflict, unless they are done the right way.  I also learnt that, a certain group’s interest does not necessarily correspond with their need, and the two concepts are two separate things. I thought this distinction was very interesting. Someone asked about the relevance of transitional justice. Whereas, I have always believed in the need for the establishment of tribunals in conflict resolution, the speaker made me very aware of the fact that sometimes, these tribunals exacerbate tensions. I reallly wanted to ask the following question, and I regret not doing so: Regarding provision of cultural freedoms and rights, would you say that sometimes these may hinder the construction of a national identity? It was a very interesting topic, especially since it is very relevant to this region of the world. I would have wanted her to speak longer, if possible. 

Dr. Ghosn’s discussion at LAU was about analyzing peace agreements and identity conflict. She started her discussion by identifying the term conflict since the end of the cold war where interesting conflicts were identified. Dr. Ghosn mentioned that of the 128 conflicts identified in the conflict data set as a comparison between 1989 and 2008, 72% were internal conflicts and only 6% were interesting conflicts. Besides she mentioned that a number of these conflicts can be considered identity based or using the famous Lebanese-American scholar Edward Azar “Protracted Social Conflicts”. Afterwards she revealed that some in the 2008 peace found that the majority of the civil wars between 1945 and 2008 were 57% ethnic in nature and 17% were mixed or ambiguously ethnic. Moreover she stresses that the ethnic conflicts is increasing overtime by mentioning that between 2000 and 2008 count 100% of the conflicts. She also gave an example of today in the MENA region where one cannot deny the role of identity in these conflicts. But on the other hand the number of peace agreements to sign the end of the civil war is increasing too as conflicts increase and Dr.Ghosn in this case revealed the example of UCDP where 140 peace agreements were signed between 1989 and 2005 in order to end civil conflict, however none of these agreements happened to be successful and in many cases peace makers have utilized several resources to make the agreements work .For example, they included all actors, they set ceasefire to build up confidence and divide the issues and deal with them one at a time but also despite all these issues peace don’t seem to be elusive in many cases based on Dr. Ghosn’s study.  As such Dr.Ghosn proceeded her discussion by giving other examples/cases on different countries and comparing the conflicts and analyzing the peace agreements.

Moreover, my fellow classmates raised several questions that were very helpful; one of the questions was tackling the issue of basic needs. “ In Syria hundred groups are fighting, do you think it is possible to provide the needs for all of these different groups in order to reach an agreement?”

To sum up, throughout her discussion Dr. Ghosn made us acquire new lessons regarding peace making and identify conflicts, which is utterly needed in this part of the world. This discussion was very interesting, beneficial and a great example on a comparative study.

Dr Faten Gosn discussed analyzing the Peace agreements in Identity Crisis ; I highly enjoyed the dialogue and believe it was very educational. It is interesting to see that though there is an increase in peace agreements, they are not always providing a solution. For example in Rwanda’s case, the Arusha Peace agreement, which was signed in 1993, broke out in one of the deadliest conflicts 8 months later. On the other hand, The Good Friday Agreement in Ireland was only 35 pages long and yet it was a success. The difference between these 2 peace agreements was that Rwanda failed to identify identities of each group involved. It is also interesting to understand how many agreements don’t have all the variables needed to be succesful ; 30% of agreements address only the issue of security while only 28% of the agreements include security, recognition and empowerement. A questions I found educational was Khalil’s question about the Palestinian-Israeli case. According to Dr Gosn, 2 obstacles need to be taken into consideration: the first one being to Identify the problem (as the Isreali government doesn’t believe in a 2 state institution thus there is nothing to negotiate) and the second one being that all their agreements have been ambigious making it difficult to identify who is violating the agreement. A question I would have liked to ask is what peace agreement do you consider to be an ideal example that should be held amongst other peace agreements and why? I would definitely like to hear Dr Gosn again however hopefully at a slower pace to be able to capture all the detailed informaiton.

During yesterday’s session in the Comparative Politics course, Dr. Imad Salamey invited a guest speaker to speak about peace agreements and identity politics. The guest was Dr. Faten Ghosn, an AUB graduate and current instructor at the University of Arizona. Dr. Ghosn started her presentation (that was conducted via Skype) by talking about “peace talks” especially during the Cold War era (1946-1991) while focusing mainly on the 1993 Rwanda crisis. The rest of Dr. Ghosn’s presentation focused on 8 main points: Human Rights, Security, Identity lines, The Good Friday agreement, Negotiations, Rights of minorities, Participation and finally, Disarmament.
Dr. Ghosn highligted on the fact that civil wars of ethnic background usually last much longer than other forms of wars (an average of 6 years) which was new and interesting information to us . Finally, it was time for the Q&A session that started with Dr. Salamey asking a few questions aout Lebanon, followed by questions from classmates. Khalil asked a couple of questions regarding Palestine and Iraq while Marie Ann asked about the Genocides and the transitional justice concept. I was also interested in asking more questions regarding disarmamentof WMDs and the stance of both the IAEA and the NPT signatory states.
Overall, the presentation was nice and informative, though a bit too quick (I clocked her pre-Q&A presentation and it turned out that she tackled all points in 28 minutes only! Definitely a record). We’d also like to thank Dr. Salamey for securing quality speakers every now and then to inform us more about topics in comparative politics :)

The speaker’s presentation on topics and research concerning identity politics and peace agreements was highly instructive and informative. For students of international affairs and comparative politics in particular, I think, such issues as conflict resolution and conflict management processes are of huge importance to learn about and understand. Many noteworthy and impressive points were made by the speaker, such as comtemporary conflicts being more likely to rise within a state than internationally, because majority of those conflicts would be primarily based on identity struggles. An interesting observation was made, based on research of international peace agreements, that the written and signed part of the peace process does not necessarily correspond with an actual reality of the ongoing crisis and the conflicting communal groups may not agree with implementing the signed peace agreements, therefore continue to fight. And the reason mentioned was that in many cases the peace agreement may partialy ignore identity issues, therefore causing the conflicting groups to become even more defensive. To sum up, the issues of conflict resolution continue to be intensily relevant and the presentation was indeed useful for all the students who are interested and continue to research international politics and the prospects of power-sharing in the post-conflict states. 


Roundtable: Syrian Refugees’ Access to Justice

posted on 08/03/2016


March 1, 2016 10:30 AM–3:30 PM
Nicol Hall 222, Beirut campus

The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) at the Lebanese American University, the UNESCO’s International Centre for Human Sciences (CISH) and International Alert (IA) are hosting a second roundtable on Syrian Refugees’ Access to Justice.

The roundtable takes place in the framework of a joint project implemented by CISH, International Alert and LAU on Syrian Refugees’ Justice Concerns and Access to Formal and Informal Justice Systems in Lebanon. The Consortium’s researchers will present key findings on the perceptions and practices of seeking justice from their qualitative and quantitative research on Syrian refugees’ recourse justice in Lebanon.

The roundtable will be followed by a workshop on the formal and informal justice mechanisms that displaced Syrians draw on. The workshop will result in a conceptual model for understanding the role of different actors in providing or facilitating access to justice for refugees. 

Click here for more information about the event and the program.

You can read more about this roundtable in L’Orient le Jour here, in the National News Agency here, and on the LAU webpage here

“The political impact of the Internet should not be exaggerated”

posted on 08/03/2016

The Internet has no doubt been revolutionary, but, say an increasing number of observers and academics, it has not been the instigator of recent protest movements, despite many having been labeled “Facebook revolutions.”

While Internet-based platforms and technologies have certainly provided powerful resources for activists, Tamirace Fakhoury, associate director of LAU’s Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution, says the euphoria around Internet activism has died down. “In assessing the outcomes of activist platforms, I agree with sociologist Manuel Castell. You can’t perceive Internet activism as a finality in itself. You need boots on the ground,” she specifies.


In December 2011, thousands of people took to the streets across Tunisia to demand an end to the 21-year rule of Zine el-Abdine Ben Ali. In the immediate aftermath of the fall of his regime on January 14,  2011, newspapers and magazines the world over were writing about “the first Wikileaks revolution.” The whistleblower website had, starting the previous November, been publishing memos and cables written by the U.S. embassy in Tunisia that detailed prevalent corruption within the regime.

“Certainly you can see Wikileaks as a catalyst to the uprising, but it was only one of many. By now many academics have shown that grievances did not break out in 2010, they had been building up,” says Fakhoury, noting that Wikileaks was one of a number of platforms that enabled information and grievances to become accessible to the broader public.

“Internet technologies are a valuable resource in connecting people and providing platform for coordinating, and are currently part of most activists’ repertoires,” adds Fakhoury, who has for four years taught a summer semester course on media and global protest movements at the University of California-Berkeley. “However, these repertoires change over time depending on technology. It used to be the radio; now the Internet is an instrument of innovation; in the future it may be something else that is not Internet based.”

Despite its usefulness, the Internet also has a number of drawbacks. It can and has been used by dictatorial regimes to track and entrap activists. What is more, it has also been used by said regimes and their supporters in much the same way as activists have used it, to promote their own agendas.

“Online platforms invariably disperse the voice of a movement and present sentiments that are made on the spot, whereas successful movements rely on strong synergies and research and strategy,” adds Fakhoury, who recently conducted a related study of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The garbage crisis in Lebanon, she says, is a case in point. “It revealed how much we need well prepared strategies and a way of action that isn’t based on the heat of the moment or online sentiment that is enthusiastic, angry or full of resentment.”

Despite this, Fakhoury was at first surprised to learn that a survey completed recently by faculty at the Adnan Kassar School of Business revealed that 65 percent of youth in Lebanon have never visited a blog or website related to activism or human rights. “Looking at postwar social fatigue in Lebanon may explain it. People don’t believe anything is possible. Youth show a great deal of skepticism and are disenchanted.”

Might the Internet spur them toward change or even revolution? “The political impact of the Internet should not be exaggerated,” concludes Fakhoury. “Far more important to the success of a movement is the ability of activists to effectively use the Internet, their programs, continuity in their political platform and the ideas they propose, and their interactions with the political system and the international community. These are the factors that have been proven to be of most importance.”

Discussion with Philip Lazzarini onThe Comparative Work of UN Organizations in Lebanon and Other Countries

posted on 22/02/2016

Beirut, Lebanon – On Tuesday, February 23rd, The Institute of Social Justice and Conflict Resolution at the Lebanese American University had the privilege of hosting Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, UN Resident Coordinator in Lebanon, as a guest lecturer.  Lazzarini who was introduce by the Institute Director Dr. Imad Salamey, discussed what the United Nations’ is all about, what it promotes, his role as Resident Coordinator, and emphasized the role it plays in confronting refugee crisis. 


He tackled current problems residing in Lebanon, such as the trash crisis, sectarian issues and refugees’ predicament, and discussed how we can work together with UN assistants help resolve these difficulties.  Lazzarini also discussed his current works on Gender and youth policies in Lebanon. He voiced his admiration for Lebanon being known as resilient and diverse, amongst other positive aspects. The discourse ended with a questions and answer session with audience interacting with speakers on issues related to extend to which the UN work can take over government deficiencies and inactions regarding vital national issues, including the environment, human and refugee rights.

Audience Response to Guest Speaker

On September 23rd 2016, my classmates and I in the Comparative Politics course were privileged to have Philippe Lazzarini as a guest speaker. Philippe Lazzarini started off with specifying the reasons behind the establishment of United Nations and he goes on about the specific roles of the UN. To begin with, one of the first things he said that made me look at things differently is that Lebanon is the best location in the Arab world for having the Headquarters, since it is extremely diverse and it’s the safe haven in the Middle East. I never knew the reason behind the UN headquarters in the Arab World being located in Lebanon untilnow. There are various new lessons that I acquired from listening to Philippe Lazzarini. I learned that the reason for the United Nations being in Lebanon in the first place was actually because of the Israeli conflict in 1948. I also learned about the Sustainable Development Goal, where the main point on its agenda is to eradicate poverty in 15 years. Other goals on the agenda are establishing social welfare, justice and equality. Moving on to the discussion part with the students, my friend asked him what his thoughts are on the garbage crisis and if the UN is taking any initiative to solve this devastating problem. Mr. Lazzarini stated that this issue is very crucial and should be solved since it impacts the whole community, and he goes on and says that the United Nations is sending experts to advise the people in charge of solving this problem. He makes a remark that even garbage in Lebanon is fought about by different sects. Moreover, I wanted to ask him what his thoughts and opinion is about the Syrian refugees and the Palestinian refugees clashing in the refugee camps, and if this would lead to any complications. Finally, a recommendation I would make in the light of discussion as to be further explored in the future is the topic about Syrian refugees affecting the Lebanese unemployment rates.

UN resident coordinator in Lebanon Phillipe Lazzarini’s presentation was intersting as he talked about his personal experiences abroad and now in Lebanon. He shed light on the history of the UN in the middle east and why it came to Lebanon. He said that there is conflict constantly all around us and the best way to solve it is through peaceful means and dialogue. He stressed on the fact that Lebanon is the only country in the Arab world where people from different religious backgrounds and ethnicities co-exist and it is a kind of safe haven. He believes that the UN is  playing a big role in preserving this state of “peacefulness”. Mr Lazzarini also talked about the Sustainable Development Goals and how much has been achieved til now and said that gender equality has not been achieved and was blind-sided in the process of achieving other goals. When asked about the garbage crisis, the speaker answered by saying that it sad that a country like Lebanon that produces great talents has a disgusting crisis like this, and a lot should be done with respect to this problem, but the tolerance of the people is applaudable. I would have asked about the shortage in the budget of the newly launched Lebanon Crisis Response Plan and how they plan to overcome it. I would like if the speaker went more into detail about what he talked, since the topics he discussed were very general and known.

The meeting with Mr. Philippe Lazzarini was interesting and informative though it was more historical rather than highly comparative. Mr. Lazzarini offered a chronological overview of the work of the UN in Lebanon starting in 1948 until now and stressed on the unique relation between these two actors. He actually described Lebanon as a safe haven among the counties of the Middle East region that attracted such an agency to flourish within. In addition, he explained that the role of the UN exceeds security issues and includes all aspects of humanity: human rights, environment, health, education, terrorism… to reach an ultimate goal were all humans live equally. This goal is known as the SDG: Sustainable Development Goal. A key fact offered was that Lebanon has almost the highest number of UN servants/capita which implied a comparative aspect in relation to other countries. Also, when asked what is a very special aspect that distinguishes the UN in Lebanon (when compared to other countries), Mr. Lazzarini answered that Lebanon is the only country that crosses his mind that has all agencies and programs offered by the UN functioning in it starting with UNDP until reaching peace-keeping forces though there’s no war. So Lebanon is benefiting from each and every program that the UN offers on several levels and in several fields- which is comparatively special. Moreover, an interesting question was aboutthe trash crisis in Lebanon and why the UN didn’t act to solve it. The answer was simply that the UN cannot intervene unless asked to. So the UN is offering expertise and advisors when asked but the government didn’t ask yet for real help to implement solutions. Accordingly, the UN cannot take decisions on its own though, as Mr. Lazzarini insisted, they have all the means and resources and are willing to help even local actors to re-establish a clean picture of Lebanon and maintain its image and position in the international community that regards Lebanon as mainly a garbage crisis. Overall, the discussion was interesting and informative. Yet, it could have included more comparative discussions since this is our focus in this class. Topics might have included comparing actions taken by UN agencies concerning the same issue but in different countries or comparing the ease of work on several issues in the same country (which domains are easier/harder).

Having Mr. Lazzarini as our guest speaker for the Comparative Political Systems course was not only an honor but a great privilege. He is the UN resident coordinator in Lebanon and has extensive experience in humanitarian assistance and international coordination in conflict and post conflict areas at senior levels. During the discussion, it was obvious that Mr. Lazzarini not only has a thorough understanding and knowledge on the subject but a stern passion. He introduced the idea of the Sustainable Development Goal and explained that it is a program that aims to eradicate poverty and secure the resources for the coming generations. He stressed on the role that the youth can play in this agenda. He referred to the UN as a “multilateral instrument that promotes peace and security” Also, he talked about how the UN contributed to the resolution of 180 different conflicts. However, that does not mean that all the conflicts are resolved. He also spoke about how Lebanon is in dire need of th UN and the peacekeepers. Driven by the UN charter, Mr. Lazzarini maintains that “every person should enjoy the same freedoms, rights and aspirations.” He also stressed on the importance of uniting the agencies regarding the Syrian Refugee Crisis and to make sure that they function properly. In his opinion, Lebanon should be on the top of the international agenda list due to its plurality in diversity among other countries in the Middle East. Mr. Lazzarini was more than competent in answering the questions of the students and created and engaging and enlightening atmosphere that made it hard not to be involved in the discussion. Overall, it was a very interesting and informative experience.


Mr. Philippe Lazzarini is currently the resident coordinator of the UN at Lebanon. He came to Lebanon in July 2015. Lazzarini pointed out the different ways the UN can and has helped Lebanon throughout the years. He said, that the UN’s role first began, 60years ago, with the Palestinians that took Lebanon as refuge. He also emphasized how important is the international community that has been established by the United Nations in Beirut and all other cities of Lebanon. With hope that security would be established in Lebanon, he says “I do believe that the UN plays a critical role to keep testability of the country.” Trying to describe Lebanon’s situation he gave this example “it’s like a man hanging on the 10th floor of the building and wondering when this man will fall.” After a few questions in class, Lazzarini pointed out that the “Garbage Crisis “should concern everyone. Quoting his words, “This country has the capacity to show the most sophisticated things. Lebanon is a country which produces number of incredible talents.” Also, he encouraged the students to apply for internships at the UNDP, to gain an experience. However, to evaluate his talk, Lazzarini did mention some of the works that the UN did throughout the years, but he failed to mention the success rate of these works. He spoke fluently, although his mother language isn’t English.

As a guest speaker in class, we had the pleasure to have Mr. Philippe Lazzarini to give us a lecture about the role of the United Nation in and for Lebanon. Mr. Lazzarini served as a resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Somalia in 2013, as well as served more than 10 years in the International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Amman, Beirut, Gaza and Sudan, and held high positions in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq, Angola, and Somalia. Today, he is Deputy UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon and Resident Representative of the UNDP in Lebanon. During the lecture, Mr. Lazzarini discussed with us the objective of the United Nations as a whole ; its history, mission and in what cases it should interfere. What was really interesting for me in the discussion is knowing the role of the UN in Lebanon particularly and how it was participating in providing security and peace in this country. Thus he believes that the UN is playing a major part in maintaining security despite Lebanon’s present situation. One of the students present in class asked about the role of the United Nations in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, which was very helpful. If I had got the chance to ask a question, it would be to know what is their aim and what they are looking for when recruiting freshly graduate students whether for internships or jobs. In light of the discussion, it would be interesting for us, Political science / International affairs students, to know what are the different other sections of the UN that are more politically related and might be useful for future references.

Phillipe lazzarini was a pleasure to have, and his expertise in the field work of UN allowed the class to learn about the structure and values of the UN. I really liked the description he gave of Lebanon in which he said it is an “extraordinary mosaic of a community.” He also went on to discuss the immense pressure on Lebanon as a whole with regards to the refugee crisis. Another point that I found interesting, is the fact that the UN has been in Lebanon for seventy years! Lazzarini also explained the requirements necessary for failed states, such as institutions and security. It was said that the UN plays a vital role in the support system of Lebanon as a state… Providing education, peace keeping, security and human rights. Overall I enjoyed the discussion thoroughly and I also felt like he motivated many students to attain such a position in the nearby future. At the end of the talk I asked him a question about his field experience in occupied Palestine as a representative of the UN.


On Tuesday, February 23rd, The Institute of Social Justice and Conflict Resolution at the Lebanese American University had the privilege of hosting Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, UN Resident Coordinator in Lebanon, as a guest lecturer. Lazzarini discussed what the United Nations’ is all about, what it promotes, his role as Resident Coordinator, and emphasized the role it plays in confronting refugee crisis. According to him, the UN is an instrument promoting peace and security. He believes that where there’s absence of security, there’s absence of development, law and eduation… He tackled current problems residing in Lebanon, such as the trash crisis, sectarian issues and refugees’ predicament, and discussed how we can work together with UN assistants help resolve these difficulties. The main objective of the UN is providing for each person in this world the same rights, freedom, justice. Lazzarini also discussed his current works on Gender and youth policies in Lebanon and assured that the relationship between UN and Lebanon is a long lasting relationship. He voiced his admiration for Lebanon being known as resilient and diverse, amongst other positive aspects. The discourse ended with a questions and answers session with audience interacting with speakers on issues related to extend to which the UN work can take over government deficiencies and inactions regarding vital national issues, including the environment, human and refugee right. In my opinion, the most interesting subject of the discussion was my question regarding the Syrian refugee crisis because it is an issue that can be debated for a long period of time. Also the question concerning the trash crisis attracted me. Despite the fact that only three or four questions were tackled, there were many questions that I wanted to ask. Some of them are the following: “Do you see any future intentions from the international community to stabilize the Syrian refugees in Lebanon?” and “ What do you think about the strict regulations put by the government on the Lebanese borders to stop the flow of refugees?”. Finally, the seminar was very helpful and interesting and gave me a lot of information about the UN that I didn’t know before.

On Tuesday, February 23, 2016. We, the class of Comparative political systems, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Phillipe Lazzarini, the UN special coordinator. He made sure to tell us how the United Nations in Lebanon is indeed making a difference in the world generally, and in Lebanon specifically. He supports youth, and made it clear that the future is in their hands. Throughout 70 years of UN in Lebanon almost 180 conflicts were solved, said Mr Lazzarini. The discussion was very interesting overall, for the guest added more to our information as Political Science/International Affairs students with the United Nations being one of the International organizations that hires international affairs students. Questions were generally helpful, such as the question about garbage situation in Lebanon. Had I been given the chance to ask a question I would have asked, what would Polisci students do in collaboration with the United Nations in Lebanon in order to make a difference where we live? I would recommend getting Mr. Lazzarini to talk a lot more about the UN, peacemaking and conflict resolution.

Philippe Lazzarini is the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon. When he visited us in Comparative Politics class he clarified the role of the UN and from what he said I learned that UN has two messages to spreading Lebanon: First message is to assure presence of UN in Lebanon and second message is that UN’s main purpose in Lebanon is to make a change and difference. UN for some people is a big black box and for others the UN is the beast. He said that UN in Lebanon is all about negotiation dialogue such as spreading peace and providing security and this is considered as the UN’s primary objective. After all,UN has been always known as a negotiation organization. There is nothing better international community has invented when it comes to having such instrument and here he means The UN. UN has contributed to resolve about 180 conflicts and we need it because we need an instrument to resolve our differences, conflicts through negotiation and dialogue. This is what UN is all about; it is an instrument promoting peace and security. Primary objective behind UN is to provide security because we do believe that absence of security means that there will be no development in the country and no rule of law and proper education. He also said that UN has placed critical role to support stability of the country because it has instruments to support government and to support the Lebanese and to tackle at the same time issues related to security, human right instrument, development instrument, education instrument and other instruments to help the country. I learned something very important which is that UN is not only engaged in peace and security and conflict resolution, but the charter of UN gives empowerment to be involved in any aspect impacting humanity such as human rights, gender to terrorism, food security and many more issues. Every person in this world should be enjoying same rights, same freedom of expression, and same excess to justice. I was interested by what he said about Somalia being a complete fail state and the main focus to turn it into a real state and to keep it fragile was about providing security and by providing security setting up full institutions and then we have rule of law and under rule of law we have instruments related to human right and social justice and once all of this is built we can talk about a proper development of this country. I was interested by the question one of the students asked about the Syrian crisis impacting Lebanon Where many refugees now live in our country and here Lazzarini answered by saying that we can talkhours about this and that it is noted that Jordan and Lebanon have the highest number of refugees. After 2 years of the crisis they started to wake up where the crisis has been addressed as Syrian crisis impacting Lebanon so the focus started to shift where it’s not only the Syrian but it’s also the enforced communities and he said that 80% of refugees are located in the most empower age municipalities in the country. There are some municipalities where there is higher number of Syrians than Lebanese population. He said that any politician he was meeting in Lebanon was in denial of refugee presence where they know they are here but they are just in denial. Whenever a politician heard of the concept safe haven they say we have to push it and return the country to the way it was before. He said that they keep telling politicians there is no safe haven which is safe because to have a safe haven we need accountability and people who are committed to provide civil protection. So he said there will be no safe haven and political solution might take some time till people can return safely.

My question for him would be: The U.N. has been calling for Presidential Elections ‘as Soon as Possible ‘without External Interference and the lack of president in Lebanon is due to serious cultural and political differences among the Lebanese, but currently Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria and its dominant status as a military force outside the purview of the Lebanese armed forces were the stumbling blocks of the presidential elections. My question here is the presidential vacuum entirely the responsibility of Assad? Or is it because the Lebanese are a divided society?

Last but not least, Lebanon should make a collective contribution to achieve all goals the UN seeks to achieve in this country and the government should play the biggest role in helping to prosper this country and to trespass all the problems and the economic crisis it is facing nowadays.

Mr. Phillippe Lazzarini’s discussion on the work of UN organizations in Lebanon was very informative and beneficial to me. Mr. Lazzarini introduced the UN as a multilateral instrument to resolve international differences and conflicts through a peaceful manner. The speaker made me aware that the UN presence in Lebanon is due to the climate of freedom and liberty that Lebanon has, compared to other countries in the region. His reflection on the Sustainable Development Goals was particularly interesting to me. I found the questions on the Syrian refugees to be very helpful, and I would’ve liked to ask him about the political implications of having such a large number of UN officials present in the country. Finally, I would like to further explore UN work in cultural and educational fields. 

In the previous discussion with Mr. Lazzarini the past week was a beneficial and productive in general. The speaker, Mr. Lazzarini made us acknowledge the work and the effort of the UN globally and in Lebanon in a specific case, even though we may not feel it nor see it, Mr. Lazzarini made us realize what the UN is doing. How the UN helped Lebanon during the independence period to during the Lebanese civil war leading to the Syrian refugee crises Lebanon is going through in the meanwhile. In terms of what new lessons I acquired. I basically learned nothing new about what Mr. Lazzarini informed us. However he enhanced of my understanding in some issues that he addressed. What I found interesting in this discussion is how the united Nation believes in the role of the Youth in the Lebanese political structure. I believe if the Lebanese elders implied this, Lebanon will move forward rather than doing back. The questions held by the students were some good questions that actually raises all different issues Lebanese government and people have to face. Therefore they were all good questions. Question that I would have asked is that since Mr. Lazzarini, as a representative of the UN, they believethat the participation of the Youth in politics of their country and government can really improve Lebanon; would it be possible to make the United Nations a Youth Lead organization? Many youth proved that they could really lead, why we don’t then try this on a bigger scale. As for the recommendations, I have nothing to recommend. It was a good discussion all in all.

Mr. Lazzarini talked about the UN performance as a multilateral negotiator body in different countries focusing more on Lebanon. UN main cause is to promote peace and security all around the world. It was the main advocate to resolve 180 different conflict in the world for the past 70 years. The UN is focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals as a compliance to its previous stated aim. Moreover, he believes that a country cannot be developed unless having rule of law and a proper education. He shared his personal experience in Somalia where the UN tried to turn it from a state of ash to a steady state focusing on institutions. Moving to Lebanon, he stated that “UN is in Lebanon for the Lebanese.” However, he added that he doesn’t believe that the UN in lebanon is making a difference. A sense of sorry was felt when he mentioned that in every sector their is at least one successful Lebanese all around the world except in there hometown! Many question were asked dealing with current issues like the garbage crisis and the Syrian refugees crises. He was able to answer in a very positive view that these crisis will hopefully finish in favor of the citizens. 

The session was really entertaining and beneficial. Mr. Lazzarini talked about important aspects regarding the UN’s work in Lebanon. In his opinion the presence of the United Nations in Lebanon is making a difference to the Lebanese citizen and contributing in building a better future for them through the present agencies and peacekeepers. A topic Mr.lazzarini talked about that grabbed my attention was the reason behind the presence of the UN in Lebanon; which was due to the Lebanese/Israeli ongoing conflict. Moreover, getting to know more about the sustainable development goals opened my eyes on many issues. The way Mr.lazzarini referred to Lebanon as a haven to the middle eastern countries due to the freedom of speech, gives hope that one day it will be a haven again to those countries. Furthermore I deeply agree that without safety nothing will be better and the absence of a president is greatly affecting the entire country in a way or another. Some of the questions that I wanted to ask are: • Do you consider the UN the only source of hope for the poor? • Will recruiting young minds like ours be a helping hand in many of the issues that the UN faces? We can’t deny the importance of the UN here in Lebanon ,and that is why it was a nice lecture.

Entertaining a speaker from the United Nation is very beneficial for us since most of us aim to work with them later in the future and thus we gain information to the work they are accomplishing. Mr. Lazzarini gave us an insight on the UN’s work and agencies in Lebanon. Moreover, he talked about the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and how we can cooperate in making them happen. Personally I was delighted with the talk. I left feeling somehow optimistic about Lebanon. The way Mr. Lazzarini referred to Lebanon as a haven to all the other countries in the Middle East was inspiring. He also talked about safety and how development and implementation of law can never occur without safely. The UN has set a standard for human rights,food security, environment, gender equality and many more . The UN’s aspirational objective is that every person should be able to enjoy equality. UN has been in Lebanon for more than 60 years. I enjoyed that Mr. Lazzarini toke into consideration the way Lebanon has been collaborating with the refugees over the years and “defying gravity” . Some of the questions that were asked and in my opinion where cry important are : * Why did the UNDP back out from the garbage crisis? * Will there ever be a clash of civilization like Huntington said ? One of the questions that I wanted to know more about would be: * Knowing that the millennium development goals had a very short time to be accomplished in, aren’t the UN scared the same thing would happen to the SDGs? Don’t they think 15 years is a short period of time? Lastly Mr. Lazzarini made sure that Lebanon should be high on the agenda of the UN.

Mr. Lazarinni who was our guest speaker on Tuesday who is the head of the United Nations in lebanon talked about the importance of the UN in Lebanon and especially what is his role in particular. He believes that making a difference in Lebanon in the future is in the hands of the youth. He talked about the SDG which is the sustainable development goal agenda that aims to eradicate poverty and secure resources for the coming generation. He stressed the importance of the UN in Lebanon and MR.lazarinni highlighted that the operation of the United Nations is very necessary to keep peace and stability. His role in particular is to bring all the United Nations agencies together and make sure they function properly. He reminded everybody that it is because of the Palestinian war in Lebanon that triggered the united nations to be established in 1948 and there were more than 10,000 peacekeepers. He was a very charismatic speaker and made everything clear in a very brief and easy way.



Discussion with Dr. Jana Jabbour on The Government and Politics of Turkey

posted on 22/02/2016

February 16, 2016 6:30 PM
Nicol Hall 222, Beirut campus

The Department of Social Sciences and the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution hosted a discussion with Jana Jabbour under the theme of a comparative analysis of Turkish Political History, Government and Politics.

Jabbour holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations. She is a lecturer at Sciences Po Paris and a research associate at Centre de Recherches Internationales (CERI) and Institut de Recherches sur le Moyen-Orient (IREMMO), where her research and publications mostly focus on the MENA region’s political economy and international relations.Jabbour is co-founder of a research group on “Rising powers in the international system” whose aim is to examine the role of the BRICS and other rising middle powers in world governance. She is published in prominent journals such as the European Journal on Turkish Studies and Confluences Méditerranée.

This event is part of Associate Professor Imad Salamey’s class titled “Comparative Political Systems”.


Audience Response to Guest Speaker

Dr. Jabbour’s presentation on the government and politics of Turkey was an informative one. Perhaps one of the most captivating factors about it was the fact that she discussed the political history of the Ottoman Empire without going into details with historical material that would have made the discussion less lively. Her deep knowledge of the mechanics of the Turkish rule made me aware of the fact that Ataturk was anti-Ottoman empire to the extent that he revolted against the religion of Islam due to its ties to the empire and the way the Sultans ruled. What was particularly interesting about the discussion was the comparative aspect of it, where she draws on the differences in governance between the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic established by Ataturk. The radical break with everything that was Ottoman, whether educational such as the alphabet, social such as the religion of Islam or governmental such as the abolishment of the caliphate system would make for an interesting case study, if compared to a similar case within a different nation. A question that I would have liked to ask was to what extent, as a political scientist, does Dr. Jabbour see the Republic established by Ataturk to be a successful one, asking her to draw on various negatives and positives of the rule he established. I would also have liked to learn more about his isolationism policy and to what extent it later played a role with other heads of state. Perhaps, the answers to my questions, along with further comparison with the current government, would make for a good lecture in the future. All in all, Dr. Jabbour’s lecture was a quite revealing and explanatory one that allowed me to get a glance as to how the methodologies that we have been studying about so far with Dr. Salameh, can be used with a case study.


Dr. Jana Jabbour is an excellent speaker who gave a very informative presentation about Turkey during the Ottoman Empire and after the 1923 revolution. She gave us an analytical historical narration about Turkey starting from Turkey as an Empire (Monarchic Ruling) and developing into a Turkey as a state (Republic of Turkey). Turkey is an example of a country which made a transition from a Ruling Absolutist Monarchy to an authoritative regime state by coup d’état. It was interesting to connect the chapters of our textbook with the presentation given. To start with, Ottoman Empire was ruled by a Monarchial Dictator who repressed his society. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s leadership was able by coup d’état   to take over Turkey. Though, both were authoritative. Kemal was determined, however, to put new nation and state building policies. In this case, nation and state building were in parallel. Kemal wanted to build a new nation and state that would be republican, parliamentary, westernized, secular, isolated and national. Through consolidation of rule, rationalization of rule and expansion of rule, Kemal built the state. Never the less, by approaching Kemal’s ideology through instrumentalism, I can deduce that he used secularism as a tool to legitimize his own political rule. He still considered the Sunni- Turk as the better Turkish citizen. Hence, he was not secular at all. Rather he was primordial attached to his own identity. He was again an authoritative military dictator who desired power. This explains much of the later transformations in Turkey in the 1980s. By taking the time series approach in Comparative Politics, Dr. Jabbour was able to compare Turkey in different times in order to explain Turkey today. Dr. Jabbour asked a very interesting question which is “Why the JDP are in power in Turkey?”. This question shows how the Black Turks of yesterday under Kemal’s rule are the White Turks of today. Now, another question arises “Does Dr. Jabbour think that primordilism and essentialism are the cause of the problems today in Turkey?” In conclusion, I would like to thank Dr. Salamey for inviting Dr. Jabbour. I would love to have Dr. Jabbour again as a guest speaker in order for her to complete about Turkey’s development after the 2000s. Moreover, I would like to know how are the ethnic-sectarian dynamics today in Turkey.


We have received Dr. Jana Jabbour among us last Tuesday to allow her to offer us a window to Turkey’s foreign policy and interest in the region, her being an expert on Turkish affairs and policies. The presentation has been mostly informative, as our guest opted to take us all the way back to the Ottoman Empire pre-1923, and Mustafa Kemal’s Republic of Turkey, in order to argue how past approaches might have affected today’s structures in the country and ultimately given rise to Turkey’s Erdogan today. Thanks to this presentation I was made aware that Ataturk’s inclination towards Europe and his decision to alienate the Republic of Turkey from the ME was due to his fascination with the technologies of the West, their successful military tactics, and how they have been able to overhaul Turkey since Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt and the beginning of the fall of the Ottoman Empire. His stringent way of banning religion, or attempting to control it, in addition to his unapologetic favoritism of “pure” Turkish blood and ancestry, might have given way to the marginalized conservatives or religious to mutiny and eventually carry Erdogan and the AKP to unrivaled victory. Contrary to Ataturk’s “elitism”, Erdogan had risen with the image of the self-made, pious man. It was particularly interesting to learn that in fact what Erdogan has been able to achieve economically had only been bolstered by his ability to “offer liberalism a human face”. A multitude of Turkish cities had displayed impressive growth records, particularly cities that had received little state investments or subsidies over the years, they had recently flourished under Erdogan, and no sooner had the latter come to prominence as an ethical figure, enabling him to clinch victory after another over the past decade. Unfortunately, Dr. Jabbour wasn’t able to elaborate any further due to the scarcity of time, however I was able to ask her about the origins of Turkey’s shift from “no meddling in the ME” attitude, to serving as an influential power in the region, to which she had answered: adopting Ahmet Davutoglu’s belief that Turkey has the potential to rise to a status of high power in world politics by perceiving Syria and the ME as the window to this status, and Erdogan has only started to fail when he shifted from a stance of “adaptation to changes in the ME” (adopting a more prudent and tactful stance towards changes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt) to “wishing to influence and drive these changes himself” (actively attempting to topple Assaad’s regime by offering logistic and financial aid to movements like ISIL), which had jeopardized Turkey’s internal security and international position greatly. Another question that I have found helpful was put forward by my classmate Omar, who had asked our guest whether she could predict another shift in Turkey’s mindset towards Secularism such as Ataturk’s, to which Dr. Jabbour answered in the affirmative by nodding her head and asserting “most probably, since secularists and republicans are the ones being marginalized in Turkey nowadays”. Being Turkish myself, I have really appreciated knowing more about my second Turkey, and being from the ME myself, I had tried to ask questions that would allow me to better predict Turkeys current influence on our region. I recommend to invite Dr. Jabbour to another round in order to resume our discussion of this great country’s foreign policy.


She started with a historical background of the Ottoman Empire and explained the features that controlled the political dynamics of that era. Dr.Jabbour than goes on to explain how Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the Turkish republic and started a process of nation building discarding the legacy of the Ottoman empire and driving Turkey towards westernization; and modernity. Dr.Jabbour explains how Ataturk discarded religion as a source of legitimacy to found a new political secular system to legitimize his political rule. She emphasizes that Ataturk invented a national identity based on Turkishness; meaning that Turks were a different but rather superior race. She then goes on to describe the rise of political forces in Turkey during the 80’s, weighing the reason to the political polarization in the world due to the cold war, she argues that the one way to fight communism was to allow for the expression of religion in society. The lecture was interesting due to the information that I personally did not get in touch with through my academic work especially the historical context. My fellow classmates enriched the lecture with a few questions (due to the lack of time) that provided additional knowledge on the issue.


The discussion and presentation were very beneficial indeed, as I became more aware of the Turkish history and how it became the replacement of the Ottoman Empire. I have learned how secularism could be as well an authoritarian imposition on people and a repression to their freedom of expression. However, what was interesting to me was the antagonism in Ataturk’s actions and beliefs. Even though he was very oppressive and was preventing any religious expressions, he believed that only “Muslim Sunnis” were the perfect citizens in his country. Basically all questions asked by the students were an added value, whether it was the question about minorities during Ataturk’s time or about the chances and opportunities which made him subject to western values or about the oppression he performed back then and back-fired nowadays. I would have liked to ask about Erdogan’s policies at the time being and if they are leading the country to become more religious, and for this reason I would recommend that this topic be discussed further in the future.


The presentation by Dr. Jabbour was excellent. She was very knowledgeable about the subject and was able to give a very comprehensive account of the evolution of the Ottoman empire into the current Turkish system. This presentation was very important in helping me understand many aspects of the Turkish political decisions and actions today. What I found interesting was how the evolution of Turkey and the past policies were used in order to gather support for the current party in power. It was a shame that we did not have enough time to continue the discussion into modern day policies under the current Turkish government which would have been a very interesting ending to the presentation by Dr. Jabbour by linking all the history of the country to its actions today. Many important questions were raised and I was impressed with the speed, detail and accuracy in which Dr. Jabbour was able to answer. I am definitely looking forward to attending more presentations by her.


Dr. Jabbour’s presentation was very insightful as I acquired a lot of knowledge in regards to why Turkey’s government is a parliamentary democratic republic, with the Prime minister being the head of government. It is interesting to understand how governments’ ‘repressions’ in the past can shape the leaders of our present, as was expressed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s drastic governmental changes once he gained power. What i enjoyed most during the presentation was the comparison between the Ottoman Empire’s way of rule & Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s complete opposite leadership. In order to understand the kind of ruler that Kemal was, we needed to learn the background of the ruling government before he stepped in. It was thought-provoking to learn that instead of wanting to follow in the footsteps of the Ottoman Empire, Kemal wanted to be like the more ‘modern’ and ‘advanced’ Europe. I appreciated the question asked by Noor in regards to how Mustafa Kemal acquired so much knowledge about Europe, having lived his whole life in what is now known as Turkey. While he attended the Imperial War College, who taught European experiences to Ottoman students, it is also important in understanding the role that society & schools play in shaping future power holders. A question I would have liked to ask is what happened, after the decline of Kemal, to the ‘Black Turks’ who were previously the ‘White Turks’. Also, I would like to hear Dr. Jabbour again discussing the 2000’s and the rise of the JDP.


During last week’s seminar in the Comparative Politics class, Dr. Salamey invited a guest speaker to talk about the Turkish political transition starting with the Ottoman Empire, passing through the Secular Kemalist era and reaching today’s modern Turkey that is run by the Islamists (unfortunately). The guest was Dr. Jana Jabbour, a young and beautiful (she looks a bit like Dima Sadek, LBC’s talk show host and news anchor) International Affairs instructor and analyst that specializes in Middle Eastern politics. In her VERY interesting presentation, Dr. Jabbour talked about Turkey and its historical political transition that was mainly based on 6 pillars during the Ottoman Era: Dual Legitimacy, Heredity System, No System of Checks, Patrimonialism, no attempt at Nation-Building and No Territorial Definition of the State. After that, our guest talked a lot about Turkey under Mustafa Kemal and his forceful westernization of the country and the adoption of a secular system that was very different than the classic (or vanilla, as many analysts say) secular systems of that of France and the UK. Dr. Jabbour didn’t have enough time to talk about all the points that she prepared for the presentation (she also invited herself to continue the talk in a later session) and Dr. Salamey had to intervene to allow us to ask some questions before time runs out. The students asked many interesting questions like Julia’s enquiry regarding the USSR-Turkish relationship during the Cold War Era, Markrid’s question regarding the international image of Turkey and how the case of the Armenian Genocide can cast it spell on that image. Khalil on the other hand asked about the latest municipal elections in Turkey and how Erdogan easily dominated the ballot outcomes (unfortunately, again). I personally asked a couple of questions, trying to understand Dr. Jabbour’s view regarding a possible secular seizure of power in Turkey and, if that happens, the possibilities of supporting other regional secular minorities. Sara and I didn’t leave our further questions unanswered; we followed Dr. Jabbour and Dr. Salamey after class and bombarded them with all our remaining questions! We are waiting for Dr. Jabbour’s second visit to Lau to continue her presentation :)


Dr. Jana’s presentation was well prepared in order to address the LAU students about the Turkish politics, it was comparative in its methodological component for the speaker compared the Turkish regime from the Ottoman days till the establishment of the Modern republic. Thus Turkey in the 20th century and Turkey in the 21st century.

Major transformation occurred in Turkey, the history of state formation and legacy of the Ottoman empire it emerged out of opposition to the Ottoman empire where the Turkish government became an anti-thesis of the Turkish Ottoman state.The Ottoman state rested on specific dual legitimacy where the Sultan was a Caliph and the leader of the empire hence he enjoyed double religious and political representation of the Uma. The Sultan instrumentalized the Sharia’s and asked the religious Fatwa’s to justify the decisions that he took. The political system was hereditary as well, no rotation of power because it was limited to the sons of the Ottoman Sultan’s family. Patrimonialism was also another feature inside the Ottoman empire where the political governance was in such a way in which the state positions are attributed according to proximity and loyalty to the Sultan. Client-patron relationship where the Sultan used the majority of the state positions. The empire was characterized as well by the system of checks and balances without any attempt of nation building (no national identity). The sultan had established the Millet autonomous system. As of the 16th century it was a phase of decline because of the revolution in Europe, in 1798 the Ottoman empire was invaded by the EU and in World War I by the Austro-Hungarian empire. After this period Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, the army commander started to build the nation where he first changed the ottoman alphabet to Latin, then abolished the Caliphate, promoted westernization therefore the state ideology of Kemalism and parliamentary republic.The regime was as well military dominated, the army doesn’t exercise political control but the army sets the boundaries of the political system. Secularism was another feature, not to forget the nationalism that the Turkish race is different and a superior race. The foreign policy was isolation completely from the outside with no offensive policy; denigration from the outside world. These created the ideal Turkish citizen based on ethnic, secular and modernity. However, these changes also created deep division and peripheral cleavages.In 1980s a major transformation occurred in Turkey and progressiveness started to rise; Islamization and ideological polarization. Where Islam as spiritual religion against communism.


The presentation by the speaker Jabour on the government and politics of Turkey was very informative and well delivered. It provided the students with possibly new knowledge of historical context of Turkey we see as a state nowadays, and encouraged understanding of the transformation of the state since the Ottoman rule. And as speaker Jabour emphasized the crucial need of understanding the historical context, I find it interesting the use of political sociology in government and state politics research. Several interesting as well as important points were made such as dual legitimacy of the state as political authority working in parallel with religious legitimacy, or another point on the way of explaining Kemalism as a state ideology and the state’s development from it. Very inspiring speaker, would like to hear and participate in the second part of the presentation on Turkish government and politics in the 2000s.


Dr. Jabbour discussed the government and politics of Turkey. It was very essential for her to conduct a comparative study between Ottoman Empire and the founding of the modern Turkey state. The new Turkish nation-state under Kemal Ataturk faced a reform/transformation in the 1980s. Jabbour’s comparative methodology was very clear in explaining the evolution of Turkish politics. It was definitely something new to learn. A question by a fellow colleague on the treatment of Ataturk and JDP for the minorities in Turkey mostly brought my attention. I wanted to ask her —which could be an interesting path to explore— on the sudden change in Turkey foreign policy behavior; from the phase of isolationism to the phase of regional expansion; a neo-Ottoman Empire.


The guest speaker Dr. Jana Jabbour presented a discussion titled The Government and Politics of Turkey, shedding the light on the historical Turkish major political transformations. She provided us with an interesting and informative discussion about the factors that lead to the establishment of Turkish nation-state. She began with explaining the features of the political life of the Ottoman Empire in terms of leadership, legitimacy, patron-client relationship between the Sultan and his subjects, the absence of both checks and balances and the territorial definition as the Sultan was considered the leader of the Umma. Then, she explained the stages that lead to the decline and abolishment of the Ottoman Empire. What caught my attention is Dr.Jabbour’s elaboration the major role of the army commander Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in founding the Turkish republic in 1923 after abolishing the Empire in 1922 and how he promoted Westernization thinking that it is parallel to modernity, besides adopting Kemalism as an ideology. Also, she explained the components of the ideology which are republicism, secularism, ethnic identity nationalism and foreign policy isolation. She ended the discussion with pointing briefly to the Islamist rise that took place in the 1980’s as a major political transformation. It would have been interesting to know more about the Justice and Development party. Regarding the questions of my colleagues that I found helpful:1-How was Kemal fascinated with the Western Civilization although he lived and got educated in the Ottoman Empire?2-Do you think that seculars will ever seek to re-gain power? I also wanted to ask her about her opinion of Tukey’s role in the Syrian conflict. Finally, in light of the discussion, it would be interesting to know about the nature of challenges that Turkey is facing with the existence of the threat of terrorism imposed by the ISIS.


Dr. Jabbour’s presentation on the government and politics of Turkey was an informative one. Perhaps one of the most captivating factors about it was the fact that she discussed the political history of the Ottoman Empire without going into details with historical material that would have made the discussion less lively. Her deep knowledge of the mechanics of the Turkish rule made me aware of the fact that Ataturk was anti-Ottoman empire to the extent that he revolted against the religion of Islam due to its ties to the empire and the way the Sultans ruled. What was particularly interesting about the discussion was the comparative aspect of it, where she draws on the differences in governance between the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic established by Ataturk. The radical break with everything that was Ottoman, whether educational such as the alphabet, social such as the religion of Islam or governmental such as the abolishment of the caliphate system would make for an interesting case study, if compared to a similar case within a different nation. A question that I would have liked to ask was to what extent, as a political scientist, does Dr. Jabbour see the Republic established by Ataturk to be a successful one, asking her to draw on various negatives and positives of the rule he established. I would also have liked to learn more about his isolationism policy and to what extent it later played a role with other heads of state. Perhaps, the answers to my questions, along with further comparison with the current government, would make for a good lecture in the future. All in all, Dr. Jabbour’s lecture was a quite revealing and explanatory one that allowed me to get a glance as to how the methodologies that we have been studying about so far with Dr. Salameh, can be used with a case study.


Discussion with Nora Jumblatt on the Conditions of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

posted on 03/12/2015


On October 28, 2015, The Department of Social Sciences and the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution organized a discussion with Nora Jumblatt on the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the role of civil society groups. 


Jumblatt has been the president of the Beiteddine Festival since its creation in 1987. She is a member of the Executive Committee of al Chouf Cedars Reserve, President of the Executive Committee of the American University of Beirut Museum (2003-2009) and member of the Executive Committee of the Children Cancer Center of Lebanon (St. Jude) since 2005. Since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis, Jumblatt has spared efforts alongside civil society groups in order to raise funds, provide education and help host Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon.

For more information, click here.

Lecture: “The Orthodox Church and Russia’s Politics in the Middle East”

posted on 03/12/2015

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On October 21, 2015, The Department of Social Sciences and the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution sponsored a lecture on the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in shaping contemporary Russian foreign policy toward the Middle East. 
Dr. Irina Papkova is a leading scholar of religion and international relations. She is a research fellow of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the author of The Orthodox Church in Russian Politics (Oxford University Press,2011).

Discussion with M.P. Yassin Jaber on the Work and Challenges of the Lebanese Parliament

posted on 03/12/2015
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Beirut, Lebanon: Wednesday October 7,2015—On Wednesday, October 7th,2015 Dr. Imad Salamey, associate professor of Political Sciences and International Affairs  at the Lebanese American University hosted Member of Parliament and Former Minister  Yassin Jaber as part of his course titled “Government and Politics of Lebanon”. Mr. Jaber conducted a discussion in which he addressed students on current issues occurring in Lebanon, and the most prominent challenges that are facing the Lebanese Parliament. He started off by giving listeners a general picture of what is occurring in Lebanon today, mainly in terms of the parliamentary dysfunction and political deadlock.  Lebanon has had a long history of sectarian strife, a one that has posed huge impacts on its state of being today. “In Lebanon, we have two powers, one is supported by Iran and the other is supported by Saudi Arabia, that’s what makes the parliament polarized and unable to elect a president” stated Jaber. This sectarian element has been present and manifested in Lebanon’s two main parties-Hezbollah and The Future Movement-and according to Jaber, it has played a causal role in Lebanon’s 15 month presidential vacuum.

 As a former minister of economy, MP Yassin Jaber moved to discuss the economic situation in Lebanon, and what role do the bylaws of parliament play in this issue. “Every single indicator to the economy of Lebanon is negative “Jaber mentioned. MP Yassin Jaber stated that in order for the government to enact laws that could aid the current economic state, there are main steps that should be taken.  Either government makes a law and sends it to parliament, or a Member of Parliament presents a law to the government. This should be followed by a signature and an approval from the president, or else the law would not be passed. For this reason, it is currently hard to modify or suggest new parliamentary laws, for no president is there to sign.

When asked about the civil movements, prominently #YouStink and #WeWantAccoutability, MP Yassin Jaber described them as “a very positive step”. “Such movements are much needed and show that we have maturity and political awareness among our citizens” Jaber asserted. However, MP Yassin Jaber stated that the list of demands presented by those movements is a bit over the edge and should be moderated. “Those movements need to focus on one issue ate a time; they need to focus on presenting more leadership skills and charismatic leader for their movement” Jaber confirmed. MP Yassin Jaber further highlighted that protestors are “only representing the tip if the iceberg”, for there are far more people harboring resentment towards the Lebanese government.

For someone that has had about 20 years of experience in the Lebanese polity, MP Yassin Jaber seemed rather positive about Lebanon’s state. He highly emphasized the fact that Lebanon is among the countries that have bared and survived so much, especially when it comes to the Syrian refugee influx. “‘despite all the negatives today, I can’t believe that 4 years after the start of the conflict in Syria, we are still there”, Jaber affirmed. “Lebanon is like half empty half full cup, we do not want to empty the full half, we want to fill the empty half instead”.

MP Yassin Jaber cordially took questions from students from different majors, and fluently answered all of their concerns towards issues at stake including institutions, transparency, and accountability. The discussion was a great chance for students to get insight on the crux of matters and widen their perspective by listening to a politician’s opinion.

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For more details on the event from the Ministry of Information website, click here

Discussion With Melani Cammett on Communitarian Politics in the Middle East

posted on 26/11/2015

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On November 25, 2015 The  Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution hosted a discussion with Professor Melani Cammett  on Communitarian Politics in the Middle East.

Dr. Melani Cammett is a Professor of Government at Harvard University specialize in the political economy of development and the Middle East. Her research focuses on governance and the politics of social service provision by public, private and non-state actors in the Middle East as well as identity politics in the region. Her book publications include A Political Economy of the Middle EastCompassionate Communalism: Welfare and Sectarianism in Lebanon, The Politics of Non-State Social Welfare, and Globalization and Business Politics in North Africa: A Comparative Perspective.

This event is part of Associate Professor Imad Salamey’s class titled “Post-Arab Spring Communitarianism”

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