07.09.2016 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Towards a socially inclusive Lebanon: Meeting of Lebanese municipalities in UNESCO Beirut Office

Lebanese cities face great challenges with regards to social inclusion. Lebanon’s turbulent history in addition to current tensions related to the Syrian refugee crisis, require collective efforts to fight against intolerance, violence and segregation. The mayors and municipality officials from 16 Lebanese cities gathered at UNESCO Beirut on 6 September 2016 to share their experiences and good practices and explore collaborative mechanisms to promote social inclusion in urban settings.

The meeting was titled “Coalition of cities against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Lebanon”, organized by UNESCO and the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO. Nada Al-Nashif, Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences Sector of UNESCO explained the significance of this meeting as there is a growing expectation by international community on the role of cities in promoting social inclusion within the Agenda 2030 and SDGs process and UNESCO’s commitment in supporting the Coalition of Cities globally, regionally and nationally in promoting social inclusion.

Ms Fatimatou Abedl Malik, a Mayor of the commune of Tevragh-Zeina at Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, representing the Arab Regional Coalition of Cities, emphasized on the participatory approach to the community development mobilizing especially women and youth to overcome challenges of social cohesion in the Arab region.

Speakers included mayors and representatives of municipalities and civil society organizations then shared experiences and good practices in promoting social cohesion from diverse perspectives including an initiative in promoting youth role in local governance from Hazmieh Municipality, promoting accessibility of Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in the City of Saida and the reducing tensions and promoting social cohesion in the municipality of Baalbek. Participatory approach to promote women’s rights and gender equality in partnerships with municipalities was shared by an expert from ABAAD. Ms Mona El Hallak, architect and activist, shared an experience of civil efforts in restoring histories and memories of peace and war in “Beit Beirut”.

The mayors and municipalities agreed to further explore collaborative mechanisms among cities, civil society and International community and UN agencies by setting up a follow up committee chaired by the Municipality of Beirut. Ms Yusra Balaa, Member of Beirut Municipality said “it is a rare and valuable occasion for mayors and municipalities to exchange over good practices and lessons learnt and a good start to further discuss and address specific concerns of discrimination in cities”.

Launched in 2008, the Coalition of Arab Cities against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Intolerance includes 19 members from 6 Arab countries (Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco and Qatar) and aims to grow further.

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