Launch of the Arab Social Watch Report 2009

Members of Social Watch Lebanon and the coordinator of the network came together with government representatives in Beirut in July 2010 to launch the Social Watch report 2009 for the Arab region. The event also followed the presentation of the UNDP report "Assessing the MDG Process in the Arab Region" and provided an opportunity for a public debate between government authorities, civil society organizations from several Arab countries and United Nations experts.

Roberto Bissio, on behalf of the International Secretariat, emphasized the common message coming out of over sixty national Social Watch reports: “investing in people, expanding and promoting health and education, access to clean water and to adequate housing is not just an ethical imperative but also the best stimulus package for the economies in these times of crises”.

Government representatives, including the Lebanese minister of Finance, Raya Haffar Al-Hassan and the director of the regional office of the UNDP, Mona Hamman, welcomed the “put people first” message of the Social Watch report and recognized that they were consistent with the policies their institutions are promoting. 

 “The Social Watch and ANND reports help introduce transparency and accountability and are catalytic to improve government policies and laws and to increase participation in decision making” said Lebanon’s minister of Finance. 

Speaking in behalf of the Arab NGO Network for Development (Social Watch’s focal point in Lebanon) Ziad Abdel Samad welcomed the public discussion of the national budget that is currently underway “for the first time in Lebanon” and challenged the minister to go one step further and invite civil society organizations to actually participate in the elaboration of future budgets.

“The global crisis has aggravated social gaps, but we are promoting public policies that benefit people in their daily life” stated Haffar Al-Hassan. Reinvigorating the middle class, improving the efficiency of social services, targeting social and geographic disparities and empowering women to actually benefit from the opportunities opened to them by the new electoral law were quoted as priorities for her ministry.