Advocating for Lebanon: Exploring the opportunities for lobbying and advocacy from the diaspora

Completed

The objective of this webinar is to better understand how the diaspora can engage in effective lobbying and explore the causes for which our lobbying efforts can be effective, with a particular focus on ensuring accountability and transparency in the management of funds given to Lebanon for projects by international donor agencies and governments.

Lobbying hasn’t been in the country’s vein of activism and is an area to explore for potential voicing of concerns, especially in the post thawra era. 

Objective:

  1. Learn about the lobbying efforts that have been done in relation to the Bisri Dam

  2. Set the grounds for initiation of a lobbying campaign regarding recovery stolen of funds

  3. Explore ways the diaspora can be effective in lobbying:

    • Preventing the repetition of similar mistakes in funds being sent to Lebanon and managed without transparency or accountability.  

    • Tackling the issue of donor agencies allocating funds for big projects and contracts that are not necessarily in the best interest of the Lebanese community in Lebanon and that have allowed for corruption and theft through the contracts made in the implementation of these big projects.

Speakers: 

Julien Courson
| Executive Director at the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA)

Julien currently holds the position of Executive Director at the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) – La Fassad, the local chapter of Transparency International. Prior to joining LTA, Julien worked as consultant, researcher & trainer in Capacity Development, Advocacy, Conflict Resolution, and Governance. 

With more than 12 years of regional experience, Julien lead the strategic development of several local and regional initiatives and programs. He has consulted, throughout his career with numerous local and international organizations in areas ranging from human rights good governance, conflict resolution and lobbying. Julien’s work experience has spanned Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Morocco.  He has been, from 2004 till 2015, a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics of Saint- Joseph University (USJ), and was selected by the European Union Delegation in  2010 to participate to the European Union Visiting Program in Bruxelles. He also held the position of Executive Director at Association Libanaise pour l’Education et la Formation – ALEF between 2006 and 2010. 

His recent publications focused on the governance of the Oil and Gas sector in Lebanon. He produced the Lebanese Oil and Gas Initiative – LOGI “Good Governance Guidelines for the Petroleum Sector in Lebanon” report, “Is Lebanon preordained to become a Presource Curse Country ? and “Public Consultations: An Ally for the State in the Petroleum Sector in Lebanon” policy papers, and LTA’s “Citizen Guide to Stregthening Transparency in the Oil & Gas Sector Law in Lebanon”. Julien holds a Masters in Economic Policy from Saint Joseph University (USJ), and a professional certificate in Mediation from USJ & Université Catholique de Paris.
Dania Dandashli | Save the Bisri Valley Activist

Dania Dandashli is a psychologist and a psychoanalyst practicing in Beirut Lebanon. She became involved with the National Campaign to Save the Bisri Valley two years ago. 

She has been actively and passionately lobbying against the Bisri dam mega-project ever since, organizing events and demonstrations in Bisri, and lobbying media, organizations and politicians locally and internationally to bring awareness to the destructive scale of the project and its inefficiency.
Carine Tohme | Managing Partner at Tohme Law Firm

Carine is the managing partner of Tohme Law Firm, a Firm based in Beirut and which has more than 40 years of existence. She handles all aspects of corporate matters and transactions on an international and national level. Carine also has significant experience in estate planning and advises local and international investors on how to structure and implement their investment. 

She has experience in all types of litigation cases, including litigation related to tenders, commercial cases including bankruptcy, asset protection and asset recovery, civil and State litigation including cases related to tax issues, and handles mediation cases. She also coordinates and overviews field work and relationships with authorities for implementation of structures and projects of all sorts. Carine was part of the team who handled a thorough study in December 2019 on asset recovery in Lebanon, in coordination with LTA.   Carine is a French, Arabic, English and Spanish speaker.
Amy Ekdawi | Arab Watch Coalition

Amy has been working with pro-rights civil society movements around the world in the last 30 years. Her work in the last 15 years has focused on connecting the local pro-rights southern movements to the global pro-rights northern movements in order to promote for social, economic, and environmental justice in the policies and portfolios of International Financial Institutions.  Before joining Arab Watch Coalition, Amy was leading the regional programs around the world, including in MENA region, for the Bank Information Center- a nonprofit watchdog in the US.

Amy has Masters degree in International Relations from Elliott School, George Washington University in Washington DC, and a Participatory Community Development Diploma from Coady Institute, St. Xavier University, Canada. She has another Masters in French-Arabic Interpretation from Ain Shams University in Egypt from where she had received a Bachelor in French Language and Literature few years earlier.

Advocating for Lebanon: Exploring the opportunities for lobbying and advocacy from the diaspora