Thursday, April 9, 2015

Your vote, Your Right

Since one of the main problems our Lebanese society is facing nowadays is slow internet connection, I therefore have no choice but to complete my assignment through blogger.
I was asked to come up with an initiative concerning one major societal problem in Lebanon, one that citizen engagement could help solve. I have chosen the elections problem; the Lebanese population has been deprived from their basic right of voting for their representatives in the parliament since 2013. Elections were supposed to take place that year and the parliament renewed for itself twice, stating that the next elections will be held in 2017, which is two years from now. So far, few have taken action against this violation of human rights. Approximately 40 people went to the streets only, which is very few in order to drive positive change. The initiative that could take place could start by a coalition of civil society and NGOs, who will try to make the voices of the citizens be heard by putting pressure on governments through peaceful protests, sit-ins, petitions, since there is no formal court where the human rights infringers could be brought into account. Perhaps it would be a positive incentive and motivation for all frustrated citizens to join forces with civil society and go the streets to demand that their rights be restored.

The key planners would be members of NGOs and civil society, intellectuals from all fields of work, going from social work to engineering to law, because unity is strength; by joining hands to overcome this unconstitutional decision, through constructive dialogue and experience sharing, they will be able to raise awareness in people over their rights as citizens and members of the society in an all-encompassing way, tackling all aspects of the matter, from administration to logistics. Target audience are all people who have the right to vote, and therefore are immediately affected by the problem. Recruitment will be for everyone who is not politically affiliated, and the reason is that politically affiliated people are in favor of the extension to their leaders in the parliament. Any person that complies with these two criterion, and who is dedicated to serving the public good are welcome to join, whether employed or unemployed, rich or poor, so that everyone can feel involved because it affects all of us. The initiative could partner with media, social media users, and international organizations whose duties are to watch over human rights such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Techniques and tools to be used in the initiative will be a combination of social media, which are viral platforms, fast and affordable that could spread our mission and actions and mobilize people with its effectiveness. Examples are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, increasingly popular among the Lebanese population of all ages. Other conventional tools could be newspapers, common among people who cannot afford internet or smartphones, or even TVs and radios, because they are able to deliver the message even to the most vulnerable. The combination of these tools would be able to spread awareness to all classes of society, and perhaps spark in them the will to change and overcome the unconstitutional decisions, something they might have thought about but never occurred to them that action could be taken in this corrupt country. The initiative will consist of using these platforms and tools to send parts of the constitution that the offenders broke, or even call for massive peaceful protests or sit-ins to block the roads to the parliament.

The barriers our initiative could face are perhaps corruption of the leaders who could bribe people to not manifest, or even the use of force by the police facing the protesters. By having people from all fields, the initiative would be immunized on the legal aspect, with lawyers telling us how we can protest and which rules are present in order not to break them, or engineers could plan where to sit in order to create the most pressure (car traffic and so on). Opportunities could be negotiating with some politicians that are not convinced by the extension and use their expertise to overrule the decisions already made.


The only metric or indicator that could measure the success of our initiative is the organization of elections before 2017, translated by an appeal to the decision already made and overruling it. It is extremely crucial because it’s the only way to measure the effectiveness of the initiative because the demand is one; return the power to the people, by the people, through elections, to bring into account the offenders of the constitution that shapes the lives of all Lebanese. Elections are a fundamental right of each and every citizen, which should not be, in any way, taken away from them.

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