This paper discusses the newly issued World Bank report on the welfare of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, based on the analysis of UNHCR data. It points some significant aspects not addressed, especially the effects Syrian pre-crisis public policies. It highlights the gap between the lack of proper socioeconomic assessment of both refugees’ and hosting communities and the fact that resilience and integration policies are already been negotiated with the Lebanese and Jordanian governments. This is while there no such efforts dealing with Egypt, Iraq and mainly Turkey, who are receiving large numbers of refugees. In addition, the Civil Society organizations are channeling a large share of the humanitarian aid, while they have, as well as the Syrian refugees’ and hosting communities, no proper voice in the debate.

Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) releases the Mutual Accountability Manual on the roles of Different Stakeholders in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This guide provides assisting tools for the civil society to play its role within the framework of accountability of the parties concerned with the developmental process, from the public sector as a key partner in the development process and its basic point of reference in the context of policy-making and ensuring the proper implementation and protection of the rights of the citizens, to the private sector as a partner who is supposed to adhere to international standards of human rights, and the donors who are committed to providing the necessary resources for the implementation of the development process and achieving the goals of civil society.

Freedom of association is an enabling right that underpins inclusive development. The social movements that have flooded the streets of the Arab Spring have the potential to democratize the state and secure democratic transition. However, what Europe calls "Southern Neighbouring" countries are recording alarming shrinking space for civil society, violations of freedom of association and peaceful assembly, coupled with restrictions of the right to access to information and challenges in mobilizing financial resources.

During the 23rd Working Group session of the Universal Periodic Review the situation of human rights in Lebanon were reviewed by the UN member states. During the interactive dialogue several member states directed recommendations to Lebanese Delegation headed by Permanent Representative of Lebanon to UN Mission in Geneva Mrs. Najla Riachi Assaker on the issues of women’s rights, torture, migrant workers, establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty.

Three and a half hour session provided the occasion for both national delegation representatives and the UN Member states to shed light on the ‘extraordinary challenges’ the country is facing, namely the Syrian crisis and the terrorism in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately as civil society groups engaged in the UPR process and working on issues of human rights and development, we believe that these challenges cannot be ‘excuses’ for non-implementation of recommendations accepted back in 2010 and in overall providing maximum available resources for ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights in the country.

The arbitrary detention of Hossam Bahgat, (the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an  independent  Egyptian  human  rights  organization  and  a  journalist at Mada Masr, an online news site), on November 9th, 2015 is a mere reflection of the crackdown on civil rights in Egypt and the grim truth about the restricted enjoyment of the ‘’freedom’’ of expression and opinion in the country, that is essentially guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution Article 651 and Article 19th of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that Egypt is party to.

The outcome reached by the international track of sustainable development objectives amounts to a dangerous twist in the concept of development, especially in terms of determining the roles of stakeholders in the development process. For example, it proposes giving the business sector the key role, being a contributor to job-generating growth. This comes before the adoption of “business-binding human rights standards.”

The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) hosted a meeting on Tuesday August 18, 2015 with Mr. Leonardo SC Castilho, a Human Rights Officer from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations in New York.

The meeting comes in the lead up to the UN General Assembly in New York in September – where Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) will be adopted – and a month after the Addis Ababa Conference on Financing for Development (FfD III).

The meeting oversaw an interactive discussion between various Lebanese organizations and the representatives from OHCHR on the outcome document of the United Nations Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. 

The peoples’ uprisings in the Arab region presented a golden occasion for revisiting the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and particularly the partnership between the Arab countries and the European Union (EU).  The Joint Communication of the High Representative and European Commission, “A New Response to a Changing Neighborhood, ” highlighted important lessons learnt but remained an exercise of self-assessment without the engagement of EU partners and relevant stakeholders (including civil society) for what are widely considered today as major historical changes in the Arab countries.

In the eve of an official regional forum on sustainable development, the Arab citizen organizations proposed alternative strategies. The NGO Network for Development (ANND), in collaboration with the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and with the participation of the Civil Society Division in the League of Arab States, spelled out policy alternatives and submitted them to the governments. Read here the "Alternative Development Strategies for Post-2015: Exit from the Current Policy Approach".

Photo: ANND.

The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) organized, in cooperation with the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, a sub-regional workshop held in Beirut, Lebanon on January 24 and 25, 2015 for the Levant states. This workshop,  aimed to assess and determine the mechanisms and prospects of accountability for the various parties involved in development, be they governments, donors, civil society organizations or the newcomer, i.e. the private sector. Sessions focused on two issues, accountability and the civil society working.

The workshop was attended by representatives of organizations from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq and Palestine.

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