Is the Lebanese Diaspora Doing Enough for Lebanon?
Feb 19, 2020
The new waves of mass protests that spread across the Arab world in 2019 were marked not only by sustained mass mobilization at home but also the notable participation of diasporic communities abroad. Members of the Algerian and Lebanese diaspora, for example, organized dozens of marches and protests in solidarity with movements back home, while the Sudanese diaspora engaged in worldwide fundraising campaigns in support of injured protestors. As these countries move from mass uprising and social mobilization to the arduous period of transition and political reform, what role can these engaged diasporas play in the democratization process?
The conversation will focus on the specific case of Lebanon. The Lebanese diaspora has always been closely connected to Lebanon and played an important role on the economic, educational and cultural front. The diaspora also played a key political role at different times during the country’s recent history. As large numbers of citizens take to the streets aiming to change a sectarian and structurally corrupt political system that has bankrupt the country, what should be the role of the diaspora? Should it focus on mitigating the impact of the economic collapse or does it also have a role to play in pushing for political change and accountability? What can the Lebanese learn from other diasporas?
Nadim Houry, Executive Director, Arab Reform Initiative
Nadim Houry is the executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI), a leading think tank on the Middle East and North Africa region. Prior to ARI, Nadim was at Human Rights Watch (HRW) for 13 years where he started and ran HRW’s Beirut office for a decade before taking on the role of director of HRW’s Terrorism and Counter-terrorism Program.
During his time at HRW, he oversaw at different times work on Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan. His own research over the years has covered a wide range of topics from abuses by security forces to labor rights. He has published widely and is often quoted in local and international media. A passionate advocate for change in the region, he has addressed the Security Council and the European Parliament on challenges in the Arab world. A lawyer by training, Nadim worked in the UN as Deputy Counsel for the Volcker Commission which conducted investigations into allegations of corruption into the Oil-for-Food Program in Iraq and was previously a corporate lawyer in New York.
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