STUDY WEEK BEIRUT
11-18 October 2015
Along with the activities of the Study Week that was conducted in October 2015, in Lebanon. The participants visited the American University of Beirut, where they met with representatives of the Lebanese Civil Society. Those representatives were: 1)Fateh Azzam; Director at Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship.2) Ziad Abdul Samad; Executive Director at Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and 3) Arabi Andari- Social Activist.
The meeting focused on the different roles of civil society and the limiting of its definition to non-governmental organizations. Ziad Abdul Samad indicated that civil society is a medium that includes many forces, such as, unions, political parties and several social movements. He also indicated that these organizations play a major role in setting policies and affecting them. In the same context, Fateh Azzam pinpointed to the legitimacy of civil society organizations, who grant these organizations their roles in addition to the legal status and liability of these organizations in their countries.
Arabi Andari also stressed the fact there is a dilemma in categorizing the roles of some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). We cannot categorize CSOs as absolute good or absolute evil. There is a political conditioned conversion that should be avoided, in addition to refusing the separation between politics and civil society in general and the Palestinian case in particular.
Alongside the Civil Society Panel, the participants met with Charbel Nahhas; a former Lebanese minister, where they discussed matters on Civil Society, neoliberalism, youth and identity of the Arab Region. Mr. Nahhas elaborated on his view on Civil Society and its dependency on neoliberalism policies in the region and the world and its role on limiting political participation.
The participants also visited Shatila Refugee Camp where they met
with members of the camp’s popular committee and the manager of Al-Najda organization; Ms. Laila Al Alwai. In this visit, the participants listened to detailed descriptions of the living conditions of Palestinians in the camps of diaspora, such as lack of space for housing expansion that led to overcrowding, in addition to absence
of job opportunities and adequate medical services, problems that have been going on for the past 67 years. The speakers have stressed that the right to housing, employment, education and health are basic human rights and the continuous neglect and discrimination is increasing the suffering of the Palestinian refugees in the camps that have always been a place of poverty and desperation.
Fateh Azzam, Director at Asfari Insitute for Civil Society and Citizenship
Ziad Abdul Samad, Executive Director at Arab NGO Network for Development
Arabi Andari, Social Activist