Montreal, Canada - September 18, 2004

Learning from Canada’s diversity to help Lebanon build a system that capitalizes on its diversity

On september 18, 2004, Canadian and Lebanese experts gathered in Montreal to brainstorm ways that can improve Lebanon’s political system. The workshop is entitled « Learning from Canada’s diversity to help Lebanon build a system that capitalizes on its diversity ». The workshop gathered these leading academic experts of the Canadian and Lebanese system to identify the winning elements of the Canadian political system, and to transpose these elements onto Lebanon. 

Both Canada and Lebanon are considered pluralistic societies, with distinctive systems that attempt to satisfy their different groups. Canada’s groups are characterized by language differences, notably English and French, while Lebanon’s groups are characterized by their religious identities. 

The workshop produced the following recommendations for Lebanon:

1.

Pursue the implementation of key tenets of the Taef Accord by:  

a.

Empowering the Economic and Social Council 

b.

Launching administrative decentralization 

c.

Deconfessionalising the political system

d.

Withdrawal of all foreign forces and disarmament of militias 

2.

Enlarge the non-confessional legal-political space  

3.

Promote discussion of cross-cutting issues such as social justice through broad based civil society organizations  

4.

Establish direct access between citizens and state institutions through the creation of a Citizens Advocate Office  

5.

Ensure accountability and transparency of state institutions through the establishment of an independent auditor general 

6.

Promote civic responsibility and awareness by creating programs to address local issues

7.

Promote and encourage people through civic education to demand accountability from elected officials 

8.

Promote integrative cultural expressions

Following this workshop, a conference will be held in the next 6 months in Lebanon to propose the recommendations to Lebanese organizations and politicians working on reforming the Lebanese political system.

This event is organized by the Rassemblement Canadien Pour le Liban (
www.rcplonline.org) and is funded by the Canadian Centre for Foreign Policy Development of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. RCPL’s mission is to promote human rights in Lebanon, as stated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The workshop was followed by a press conference where Raymonde Folco, federal member of Parliament for the Laval riding, spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister the Honourable Paul Martin. The Lebanese Consul General, Khalil Habr, was present on behalf of the Lebanese government. Representatives from over 20 non-profit organizations were also present.

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