The Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) was established in May 1999 as the local Chapter of Transparency International. It was the first Lebanese organisation that focused on fighting corruption and promoting the principles of good governance.
The organisation works to fight corruption and bribery, improve the quality of life, and encourage civil society to take measures towards transparency and accountability including new sectors such as oil and gas, and the protection of digital rights. LTA sees this work as especially important given how the lack of transparency in the government, widespread corruption in the public sector, and the absence of accountability have led to conflict, tensions and violence in Lebanon, in addition to increased poverty and unemployment, and eventually to the October 17th, 2019 demonstratons. It does not investigate individual cases of corruption but advocates for general reform in all sectors. And it has established the Lebanese Advocacy and Legal Advice Center LALAC.
It focuses on working with young people in order to change their attitudes and values toward corruption. Often young people in Lebanon grow up thinking corruption is the only way to make it into professional life. Hence LTA has implemented some projects like ‘Tommorow’s Lebanon’ and ‘Local Governance through youth municipalities’ that seek to change the attitudes of young people in order to stabilize the country and broker peace among the different communities.
Local governance through youth municipalities
The ‘youth municipalities’ project mentors young people on how they can best participate in their communities, enabling them to take part in the decisions that impact their lives in an informed manner. Young people aged between 17 and 23 in different parts of Lebanon receive thematic and technical training on leadership, communication, proposal writing, good governance, transparency, accountability, and the municipal code. Half of them were selected to participate in an election process to create five Youth Municipalities, and will agree to represent them transparently. Two lists will run the elections according to a program they set themselves. It will also include two projects benefiting their local community and another that tackled a global issue.
After the elections, the winning list implements its project in cooperation with those who did not succeed. At the end of the project, LTA and Mercy Corps create an expandable Network of Youth Municipalities. All young people from the five targeted areas who participated in the project gather at a national conference to share their experiences. This leads to the establishment of a nation-wide youth network. Tool kits for the creation of Youth Municipalities capable of joining the network were published on the Global Citizen Corps website to facilitate this process.
The idea furthermore is it to encourage young people to participate in the political process and to feel responsible for their communities. It is important to stress, however, that within this project the organisers ensure that those running for elections follow gender equality and come from different religious and political backgrounds, in order to promote reconciliation and enable the young people get to know each other through this project. Hence prejudices amongst them are reduced and peace promoted. Altogether, approximately 1,200 young people participated in this project.
The ‘Tomorrow’s Lebanon’ project focuses on bringing together active and opinionated individuals who aspire to take part in an open forum that will discuss several Lebanese Politics. Through this project Lebanese citizens are asked to reclaim control of their own destiny, and no longer to remain silent to Lebanon’s subversive political reality.
Tomorrow’s Lebanon is a mainstream political project run and lobbied for by active young Lebanese. It represents a conscious forum to re-assert a national agenda through dialogue between citizens. The underlying idea behind the project was to get young people (18-25) to discuss how to build and ensure a peaceful future in Lebanon. It was an attempt to resolve tensions between different communities in bringing them together to discuss issues which have tended to cause conflict.
Not only does it provide young people with a chance to interact with each other, but it also worked as a platform where solutions and ideas can be developed in order to prevent conflicts of the past repeating.
LTA also worked on a project called ‘Civic Peace’, which discusses social, political, religious, economic, youth and media issues with 45 experts. Thereby it would be the ultimate aim to form a national, social community that functions as an mediator between politicians and local communities in order to solve problems and tensions.
The association also developed a toolkit intended to help citizens report medical mistakes and ultimately fight corruption in the management of some hospitals. And another one to defend workers' right against unjust firing. It believes investigative journalism has a pioneering role in fighting corruption.
LTA follows the philosophy that a democratic system means peace, in which people enjoy internal and external peace. But in the eyes of the LTA, transparency and accountability are fundamental pillars of any democracy, and without which peace becomes impossible, thus it works to mobilize all the private sectors in the fight against corruption. Because if a corrupt system deprives its population of the fortune it possesses, then those who can ensure peace may be driven away and the general population pushed into poverty, which in turn can cause renewed conflict. This vision has proven to be right and was adopted by demonstrators on the streets in 2019, calling for fiscal and political transparency. LTA warned in November 2019 that the proposed amnesty law would weaken accountability and reduce state of law. It stated that it contradicts the Lebanese state's commitment to curb corruption, tax evasion, money laundering and illicit enrichment. It also jeopardizes large amount of desperately needed state revenue, and will not contribute in any way to restoring trust between citizens and the political authorities, especially in the wake of popular demonstrations.