Forum Civil Peace Service, Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst e. V. (forumZFD), is a German NGO, established in 1996 with the mission to further the Civil Peace Service. forumZFD works currently in the Western Balkans, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, the Philippines and since early 2015 in Cambodia.
forumZFD has been working in Lebanon since 2009; the team of 12 staff develops projects with local partners in the programme areas of Dealing with the Past and Capacity Development. forumZFD in Lebanon with its partners also co-facilitates joint projects between Lebanese host communities and Syrian refugees, thus reducing the likelihood of outbreak of conflict through Community Mobilising. The forumZFD office in Beirut is located in a historically significant area close to the National Museum.
Lebanon is characterised by religious and confessional diversity. The narratives on the Lebanese civil war are ever-present and affect Lebanon’s political landscape as well as everyday life. However, the ways in which the war is remembered differ between confessional and political groups. There is no common narrative, a fact readily exploited by the various political and social actors. Confessional belonging determines the degree of political participation and influence. A quota system, which does not reflect the demographic reality of Lebanon, regulates the representation of the different confessional groups in Parliament. Political conflicts occur along denominational lines and are further exacerbated due to the influence of rivaling foreign powers and religious leaders.
In an environment shaped by deep-rooted anxiety and ample prejudices against “the other”, confessional lines are solidified through mutual distrust and discrimination. The influx of Syrian refugees, which has caused Lebanon’s total population to increase by 25%, poses new challenges to the social fabric of many communities. However, in the face of a weak Lebanese state, civil society organizations play a vital and important role. The education sector, charity organisations as well as religious communities have great potential to contribute to positive social change. At the same time, they are also in the position to escalate conflicts.
Besides forumZFD, the other organisation within the Civil Peace Service (CPS) Group active in Lebanon is the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). The GIZ-CPS also implements projects in the framework of the Civil Peace Service in Lebanon. Both organisations have agreed on a joint strategy to coordinate their efforts.