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Building integrity and national accountability in Lebanon (BINA')

Photo: Rashid Khreiss/Unsplash

4 August 2020 was a critical moment in Lebanese history. The Beirut port explosion, which took place on this date, generated significant material, structural and emotional damage that Beirut and Lebanon are still attempting to heal from. Decades of systemic corruption and lack of accountability in Lebanon have culminated into a multi-layered crisis leading to socio-economic, financial and political turbulence which leaves Lebanon today on the brink of being proclaimed a failed state. According to the World Bank Lebanon Economic Monitor, the country’s crisis ranks among the top three most severe global crises since the mid-1800s. The Beirut explosion exposed the tragic consequences of endemic corruption and administrative mismanagement leading to the blast, and highlighted the fundamental need to accelerate governance reform efforts in Lebanon.

What's at stake?

Reform was long overdue, particularly as large numbers of people in Lebanon have been consistently protesting corruption and demanding structural changes since October 2019. The explosion made reform more critical and coupled it with demands for accountability. The Lebanese people want to know what caused this, who is responsible, how to prevent it from reoccurring and to hold those responsible to account. International actors have called for strong transparency and accountability reforms for the Lebanese government and state institutions to regain the trust of its people and supporting countries.

It was against this background that the World Bank, European Union (EU), and the United Nations (UN) began developing the Lebanon Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework. Commonly referred to as the 3RF, it was led through a joint initiative between the EU, UN, World Bank, Lebanese government and civil society organizations. The 3RF framework provides a critical foundation for the reform, recovery and the reconstruction of Beirut that has been deeply affected by the port explosion. The need to monitor and track transparency, effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of aid and reconstruction being implemented in Lebanon is urgent and critical. It aims to empower civil society organizations to contribute to policymaking and adopt a need-based, people-centred approach in their programming.

There is a need to support a wide engagement of civil society actors to perform oversight, monitor and track transparency and accountability of 3RF. Civil society organisations (CSOs) while continuously implementing projects, supporting relief and conducting different advocacy efforts - do not always have the capacity and resources to maintain sustainability of efforts and impact and thus, face constraints to pursue their intended missions. Furthermore, CSOs and initiatives outside Greater Beirut also lack capacities, experience and networks to manage large-scale projects and access resources to support long-term advocacy and interventions – weakening their ability to produce lasting change.

What we're doing about it

Funded by EU and in partnership with Transparency International Secretariat (TI-S), Transparency International Lebanon and the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS), the BINA’ (Building Integrity and National Accountability in Lebanon) project’s aims to enhance the role of civil society actors as active pillars in strengthening governance, accountability and transparency in Lebanon. It aims to specifically expand the abilities of civil society, both local and national, to actively monitor and advocate for transparency and accountability based on the 3RF in Lebanon. This action directly works to empower Lebanese civil society with the knowledge, tools, networks and skills to strengthen their organisational capacities. It also helps them sustain long-term projects, limit and reduce their own risks of corruption and mismanagement of funds and to help them become credible actors of governance.

BINA’s key objectives are:

  • To improve the capacities of CSOs and expand organisational abilities and coordinated efforts among civil society networks in order to ensure transparent and sustainable implementation of the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF) in Lebanon.
  • To improve capacities of local CSOs, grassroots and community-based organisations outside Beirut to participate in policy dialogues and monitoring processes related to recovery and reform at local and central levels.
  • To sustain an inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogue with local, national and international actors that advance reform efforts, with an emphasis on the role of CSOs.

Our approach

Building on previous action and synergies with other programs and projects

This project builds on the work that Transparency International, our chapter in Lebanon and the Beirut Crisis Observatory at the American University in Beirut implemented on the ground, known as Ensuring Accountability in Reconstruction and Reform Efforts in Lebanon (EARREL), funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. It equips local civil society and journalist networks as watchdogs to ensure greater accountability and transparency of humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts in Lebanon, supports government reforms to manage crises with complete transparency and supports citizens in Beirut to fight against corruption. Additionally, Transparency International Lebanon's Transparent Hearts Initiative focuses on empowering civil society and building their capacities to exercise high levels of transparency in their work.

The action is in line with Transparency International's Global Strategy Against Corruption 2021-2030, with particular priorities around protecting the public’s resources, expanding civic space for accountability and building community leadership against corruption.

Trainings, mentorship, and knowledge sharing

Trainings will promote capacity building and skill development among CSOs, municipalities and citizen groups. Ongoing online and in-person mentorship sessions will be available upon request for third party organisations and trainings – especially on internal organisation and advocacy components.

Collective advocacy

The evidence and insights produced will enable a collective advocacy environment which will support the Lebanon reform process, including international advocacy, where appropriate. Means of implementation include the use of services to prepare special reports, produce communications and visibility resources – including portals, videos and targeted social media campaigns – as well as expenses related to meetings or dialogues to increase visibility of advocacy goals.

Monitoring process

The BINA' project aims to monitor governments, state institutions and the general 3RF implementation process. It equips the public and CSOs with the tools to monitor, follow up and hold the actors involved in the reform, recovery and reconstruction of Lebanon accountable. Monitoring is a data-centred and evidence-based process involving qualified levels of data collection, digital tools and analysis. The project will adopt a tailored approach to trainings, using thematic experts and specific methodologies.

Third-party financial support

Local CSOs in Lebanon will benefit from third-party financial support to conduct local accountability actions. An inclusive and participatory approach will be prioritised in developing advocacy plans to ensure local ownership and a strong representation of diverse voices is adopted. Moreover, the project encourages the fostering of dialogue and strategic collaboration among CSOs under 3RF and beyond as well as with the EU and the government, especially in relation to advocacy and monitoring reform efforts. 

This financial support consists of grants for civil society, grassroots and community-based organisations, individual human rights activists, local media, bloggers and digital platforms focused on democracy and good governance, rule of law and fundamental rights, public administration reform, civil society development and local democracy, social inclusion, anti-discrimination, gender equality, media and freedom of expression, education, culture and youth.

The third-party financial support will be carried out in different phases. The first phase consists of a pilot for the implementation of the 3RF-focused accountability actions and targets CSOs involved in the 3RF. The third-party financial support will be rolled out during the course of the project to include additional CSOs across the country.