A Civil Society Movement to Bring Meaningful Change
Addressing Corruption, Bringing Accountability
The Lebanon Project
Justice in Lebanon, a Civil Society Enterprise
Lebanon has experienced deep-rooted corruption and governmental negligence for years, to the extent that some of these practices have been normalized and many state institutions are coopted by private interest. Traditional political elites appear caught in power grabbing exercises that do not provide avenues for change; renewed attention by the international community offers some room for hope, however needed transformations can only come from the strategic and enduring engagement by civil society in Lebanon. Citizen involvement and civic trust in public affairs need to be reestablished. A key step in devising forward-looking solutions relates to achieving meaningful accountability and justice for the gross malfeasance that has been experienced: holding offenders accountable and, in the process, enhancing national judicial independence and capacity, as a means of breaking the cycle of impunity and promoting prevention – goals that have been prioritised by our partners.
The Guernica Centre was approached by a sector of Lebanese civil society to build a strategy aiming at collaborating with local organizations, Lebanese lawyers and retired judges, as well as leading international experts, to strategize and contribute to conditions that favor the independence of the Lebanese judiciary and its authority to administer justice, and, in turn, foster citizen oversight that will constructively contribute to the protection of the Rule of Law. Justice needs to be recovered as a cardinal value and a leading function of the administration of power in Lebanon. An effective response by the justice system can be a meaningful catalyst in the quest for accountability and change, contributing to restore the eroded trust in government and state institutions.
In the wake of the August 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut, confronting the harm and the consequences of the malfeasance is at the core of countering the sense of generalized injustice that has taken hold over large sectors of Lebanese society.
The type of criminal offending and abuse of power transpiring in Lebanon reflect complex patterns of perpetration that involve sources of private and public power in planning, committing and covering-up egregious conduct. Guernica brings together seasoned practitioners from around the globe that have successfully led and advised accountability initiatives in similar adverse settings. Undoubtedly, the quest for accountability will be resisted by powerful players in Lebanon. Moreover, the situations that need to be addressed put traditional conceptions of legal and political responsibility to the test. The Guernica Centre will work with its local partners to ensure a multi-dimensional and incremental approach to the quest for accountability that engages society and contributes to restore trust in institutions.
In the process, this quest needs to be brightened by concrete achievements. As the Lebanon project starts at the Guernica Centre, our partners at Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers have already provided counsel and promoted the use of legal recourses in the United Kingdom and Europe that should lead to holding perpetrators accountable and recovering funds (when possible). These cases show that exposing powerful actors acting as part of criminal enterprises is possible and, put quite simply, that justice can be achieved.
The Guernica Centre has prioritized the quest for accountability in Lebanon as part of its programmatic action in national settings. Seed funding and sweat equity for this project, so far, has come from concerned citizens in Lebanon and outside. And much of the original research on the Guernica 37 work on Lebanon came from the excellent work done by Lebanese investigative journalists, which was graciously made available to the general public.
In recent weeks, many individuals and organizations reached out to us with offers of support so we can continue and expand our efforts to advance the cause of justice related to crimes committed against the Lebanese people. See the link below for a listing of some of these organisations.
The Guernica Centre has set up a special account for funds related to this initiative. The funding and support, apart from the time of the Guernica team, will come from Lebanese citizens and persons with ties to Lebanon that are driven exclusively by the will to converge in a quest for justice and accountability. We are seeking the support of Lebanese citizens living in Lebanon and abroad to invest in this initiative to signal their determination to continue to fight against the crimes committed against them and their country. Donations of any size, however small or large, are encouraged. Donations from PEP (Politically Exposed Persons) or PEP related individuals or entities will not be accepted.