Peace Labs invited to the Gathering of Peacebuilders in Lebanon
On the 19th of September, Peace Labs Director Jean-Paul Chami, along with Magali De Biolley and Sanja Sillanpaa, current interns, took part in the ‘Gathering of Peacebuilders in Lebanon’ at the Moore Conference Center in Mansourieh. The gathering was organized by the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES), in collaboration with Adyan Foundation and Wahdatouna Khalasouna (Our Unity is Our Salvation Gathering). This half-day meeting was chaired by Manal El Tayar, Peacebuilding Initiatives Leader.
This meeting was an introductory session aimed at agreeing on a way for NGOs, INGOs, Faith-Based and secular Organizations, Foundations and Individuals, to work jointly and cooperate on peacebuilding issues. As the core of the gathering, the main urgent peace challenges in Lebanon, identified by the participants before the actual meeting, were displayed and explained with the help of visual aids and direct information. Those were numerous and included the following: international wars (5%), misuse of the role of religion (11%), influx of Syrian refugees (5%), lack of collaboration/networking (26%), and ‘our country, our past’(11%). The latter one, coupled with the lack of cooperation, were mainly addressed as challenges for urgent peace. For this reason, the discussion went mainly around how sectarianism, fear of others or again lack of justice had an impact on the lack of cooperation and networking in the Lebanese society.
The presence of different entities created a very fruitful debate concerning the importance of tackling, together, issues such as poverty and despair, the social prejudices associated with the idea of deep culture, the lack of competitiveness and the donors’ agenda. Though the participants represented different genres of peacebuilding approaches, they were able to find commonalities and shared interests which may be better defined in subsequent similar meetings.
Everyone agreed on the organization of similar meetings in the future, potentially in smaller working groups, for the sake of efficiency. Peace Labs Director expressed his gratitude for being part of this group of distinguished peace builders and voiced the high interest that Peace Labs would have in participating and, if required, in supporting with the organization and facilitation of similar events in the near future. “There are many direct and indirect benefits to such conversations”, he added, “both in terms of the technical exchange and the strengthening of the overall capacity of the peacebuilding community in Lebanon to inform policy makers and impact the positive and nonviolent transformation of the many conflicts that our country and the region as a while seem to constantly be grappling with.
The gathering ended on a delicious note as the organizers offered the guests a very nice dinner on the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary rooftop.