BACKGROUND ON THE REALITY OF VIOLENT EXTREMISM IN LEBANON
Lebanon is living amidst a regional and international environment tormented by conflicts and intra-state wars that pose the risk of national state collapse and the disintegration and dismantling of societies, especially since the risks and threats posed by such an environment are likely to expand. Furthermore, the government and population of Lebanon seek to adopt policies and design preventive plans and programs that would prevent the spread of these negative effects, as they represent serious threats to the unity of the social fabric and the assurance of the continuity of national unity.
The experience of the civil war in Lebanon in the seventies and eighties, and the historic settlement through the National Reconciliation Accord that ended the war and paved the way for a comprehensive reconstruction process, are among the factors that stimulate the national action necessary for disrupting an environment conducive to polarization and violent extremism, and to support the values of social cohesion and the peaceful settlement of internal disputes.
RISKS OF VIOLENT EXTREMISM
Violent extremism threatens society at all levels:
Firstly, it poses a threat to the human right to life, which is the first right guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international treaties and is enshrined in Article (B) of the preamble to the Constitution which states that "Lebanon is Arab in its identity and affiliation. It is a founding and active member of the League of Arab States and abides by its pacts and covenants. Lebanon is also a founding and active member of the United Nations Organization and abides by its covenants and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Government embodies these principles in all rights and fields without exception".
Secondly, it has implications for the future of the individuals within the society, turning them from equal and active citizens who bring their positive contributions into their communities into tools to be exploited for violence and fighting. The risk increases further when children, women and other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups are at risk of violent extremism.
Thirdly, it lessens trust between individuals, between the components of society, and between individuals and State institutions. This is coupled with the prevalence of an unfavorable environment that cannot ensure the rule of law, economic development and social justice, as well as with a climate dominated by polarization and the absence of rationality when discussing national issues of concern to Lebanon.
THE STRATEGY’S RATIONALE
The prevention of violent extremism has become a global priority. It is constantly on the agenda of states and international and regional organizations as these have developed national strategies and regional policies to prevent extremism, as well as in the organization of conferences, symposia and workshops to enable states to share their experiences with this issue.
In this context, a number of states have developed integrated strategies to prevent and counter violent extremism. The United Nations Secretary-General issued the United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism on 24 December 2015, and a number of international and regional organizations have adopted this approach.
Such action is particularly urgent in Lebanon due to its strategic geographic location, and its presence in a regional environment where violent extremism and calls for the settlement of internal conflicts through the use of violence are proliferating.
Moreover, this strategy is aimed at maintaining security and social peace, emphasizing the responsibility of the state to adopt practical policies and safeguards, and at allowing all components of Lebanese society to enjoy a better future. This will be done by preventing the country from being adversely affected by the negative repercussions of the surrounding regional developments and by ensuring sustained economic growth and balanced regional development. These will be coupled with respect for the human rights of all Lebanese communities in order to ensure the optimal utilization of Lebanese human capital and to make the most of the creative human wealth embodied in Lebanon’s social diversity.