CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY IN LEBANON™
The Center for Democracy in Lebanon™ (CDL) supports, strengthens and enhances the aspiration of the Lebanese People to be governed by a secular and democratic government of their own.
1. Unique Nature of Lebanon: We believe that an open, decentralized, and diverse society creates unprecedented opportunities for enhancing democracy and civil liberties. Whereas Lebanon’s prevailing image in the world is one of a multi-confessional society struggling to find common grounds and achieve peaceful cohabitation between its different religious communities, we regard Lebanon as a global forum for free and open dialogue between various ethnic and religious groups in the Middle East and around the World. We see in the Lebanese people the potential to pioneer policies for solutions and peaceful coexistence in a world of diversities entering an era of globalization. A fundamental goal of our work is seeking public policy solutions that preserve these unique qualities of diversity and dialogue and thereby maximize the democratizing potential of the Lebanese society.
2. Government by the People: A true democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people. CDL is working to bring ordinary people back into politics. With a system of government, in Lebanon today, which revolves around the entitlements of confessional groups, family name, blood lines, deep pockets and foreign alliances, most Lebanese citizens are left out. When it becomes clear that our "representatives" in government don't represent the public, the foundations of democracy are in peril. CDL is a catalyst for a new kind of grassroots involvement, supporting busy but concerned citizens in finding their political voice. Our growing international network of online activists is geared to become one of the most effective and responsive outlets for democratic participation available in the Middle East.
3. Government is Public Service: CDL believes that the success of a democracy relies to a great extent on the right attitude of officeholders towards their jobs and the educated expectations of the public from its government. By and large, public office in Lebanon continues to be regarded as an entitlement to a privileged few followed by a misguided crowd. Part of CDL's mission is a massive education and awareness campaign to inform the people of Lebanon about their rights and duties to their country and to shift their perception of government from an entitlement of a few to a public service for all.
4. The Lebanese Identity: The Lebanese People is an amalgam of cultures, ethnicities and religious groups who chose Lebanon as their country. They include Canaanites (Phoenicians and their descendants), Semites (Arabs, Syriac, Aramaeans, Israelites, etc.), Armenians, Kurds, Persians and descendants of many other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures. Their culture is as diverse as their creeds and ethnic origins. CDL upholds the right of every Lebanese to be proud of his/her cultural, ethnic or religious heritage and to be proud of the "Lebanese Identity". The identity of Lebanon is Lebanese and as unique as its diverse culture.
5. Interactive Neutrality: CDL advocates a self-imposed and permanent neutrality in Lebanon’s policy vis-ŕ-vis armed conflicts and regards this neutrality as a guarantee for long-term peace. Historically, and particularly since the early twentieth century, the gathering of Lebanese groups around regional and exclusive ideologies (including Syrian and Arab nationalism) and their endorsement of the armed struggle of the Palestinian People from the Lebanese territories (promulgated in the Cairo accord of 1969) cost Lebanon dearly in its unity and the life and wealth of its citizens, leading to repeated unrest and a 30-years conflict, exacerbated by Israeli and Syrian occupation of its land. CDL seeks non-participation of Lebanon in armed conflicts while building bridges of cultural, economic and political cooperation between Lebanon, its neighbors and the world at large, guided by our national interest and a mutual respect for the specificity and the sovereignty of others.
Civil Society: Given the diverse cultural, religious and ethnic makeup of
Lebanon, and in order to build a stronger and better union, CDL advocates a
civil society where individual rights are guaranteed by the Lebanese
Constitution. These rights include:
7. Freedom of Expression: CDL champions the right of individuals and groups to express themselves, communicate and publish their views and to obtain access to the unprecedented array of information available in the digital age. We oppose governmental censorship and other threats to the free flow of information. As an effective alternative to government controls, we believe that a diversity of technology tools can empower families and individuals to communicate freely and make choices about the information they receive.
and Surveillance: CDL is working for individual privacy in the access and
publication of information. We believe that maintaining privacy and freedom of
association requires the development of public policies and technology tools
that give people the ability to take control of their personal information in
public domains and make informed, meaningful choices about the collection, use
and disclosure of personal information.
9. Access: CDL is working to foster widely-available, affordable access to information via the internet and other modern outlets. We believe that broad access to and use of the Internet enables greater citizen participation in democracy, promotes a diversity of views, and enhances civil society. We work for public policy solutions that maximize, in a just and equitable fashion, the unique openness and accessibility to information.
10. Democratic Participation: CDL is pioneering the use of the Internet to enhance citizen participation in the democratic process, and to ensure the voice of the new generations of Internet users is heard in critical public policy debates about peace and democracy. CDL believes that the Internet provides unique and effective means of promoting democracy and of facilitating grassroots organizing and public education. We support using the Internet to afford citizens the immediate, broad access to government information necessary to the full practice of democracy.