Launching of the study 'The status of Mukhtars and their role in strengthening civil peace in Lebanon” and the guide “Local authorities and peace building"
The UNDP “Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon” project launched the study “The Status of Mukhtars and Their Role in Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon” and the guide “Local Authorities and Peace Building” on Wednesday 3rd of October 2012 in the UNESCO Palace.
Mr. Khalil Hajal, Director General of the Ministry of Interior Local Administration and Local Councils Directorate representing his Excellency General Marwan Charbel, Dr. Medhat Z’ayter, Head of the Mukhtars’ Unit at the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, Mr. Vesa Jaakola, Minister-Counsellor at the Embassy of Finland, Mr. Luca Renda, UNDP Lebanon Country Director and mayors and Mukhtars attended this event.
In coordination with the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, the UNDP “Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon” project commissioned experts to write the study “The Status of Mukhtars and Their Role in Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon” and the guide “Local Authorities and Peace Building”. These publications highlight the importance of the local leaders’ role in strengthening civil peace on the local level.
The guide provides a reference for Mayors, Municipal officials and Mukhtars on how to resolve conflicts at the local level. It contains peace building and conflict resolution tools and methodologies to ensure harmony in the society. The study highlights the role of the Mukhtar and its evolution, starting with the Reconciliation Magistrates before the creation of the Makhtara institution to the post-independence and describes the obstacles that the Mukhtars face and their important role in conflict resolution and reconciliation.
According to Mrs. Josiane Khalil, president of Keserwan- Al Ftouh Mayor’s association, This study is very important because it raises awareness on the role of the Mukhtars in strengthening civil peace in Lebanon” In his speech, Mr. Hajal explained that when the Ministry of Interior started working on this issue, he participated in the seminars and workshops and the Ministry reached a stage where the Mukhtars really understood the role of Mukhtar and discussed it.
He added that all together with the UNDP we can work on strengthening the role of the Mukhtars because in so many causes they are closer to people’s problems that the Ministry itself. Mr. Renda also highlighted the important role of mayors and municipal council members in mediation, conflict prevention and conflict resolution in their localities.
“They also contribute to the strengthening of civil peace in Lebanon, enhancing a sense of identity, belonging and tolerance” he said. Mr. Z’ayter expressed his deep appreciation to the 35 Municipal council members who took part in the series of conflict resolution and mediation skills workshops since 2009 and to the 50 Mukhtars from different regions across Lebanon who attended a three-day residential workshop in 2011 where they jointly examined recent reforms, considered the evolution of the role of the Mukhtar in conflict resolution and built a common understanding of peace building concepts and approaches.
The UNDP "Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon" project addresses since 2007 the underlying causes of conflict in Lebanon and creates “safe spaces” for local identity groups to discuss their concerns openly and enhance mutual understanding of the different “other”.
The project enhances social cohesion the local, community and national levels between civil society (youth, educators, media, and NGOs) and relevant local public (municipal council members and mukhtars) actors. “A supporting project like this now in Lebanon had been badly needed also in my country after the wars, after the civil war in particular” said Mr. Jaakola.