“The crisis can be the occasion for a radical transformation of the international aid system”

Tribune. This week, a new conference in support of Lebanon takes place in Paris, following the catastrophic explosion that devastated Beirut [le 4 août]. Negotiations stumble over the formation of the future government and the implementation of reforms, such as a law on capital control, an anti-corruption plan and reform of the electricity sector, conditions sine qua non to receive this help.

For decades, aid sent to Lebanon has kept the corrupt political caste in power by funding its patronage. The explosion revealed the limits of such complicity. What to do when the humanitarian catastrophe in which the country is plunged – from the economic and financial crisis to the explosion – results directly from the criminal hand of the State?

Read also “We will not let go” in Lebanon: Macron urges leaders for reforms, opens new aid conference

In the aftermath of the explosion, Emmanuel Macron vilified the political class, but his support remained unchanged. If the President of the Republic first mentioned possible early elections and the formation of an independent government, he quickly fell back on the premade formula of the “government of national unity” bringing together the forces in power. , the same one that has been going on for the last thirty years, and is responsible for the situation in which the country finds itself.

A system to change

Local actors repeat: if the international community thinks that change can come from those in power, it is going straight into the wall. Reforms will not be enough, it is the system that must be changed. However, the French initiative leaves aside the questioning of the confessional system (which France has so far put up with very well, by funding Christian institutions as a priority) as well as the responsibility of the authorities for past crimes, financial corruption to explode.

The time has come for the international community to tackle the heart of the problem: the distribution of power and wealth on the one hand, and the chronic lack of accountability of Lebanese leaders on the other. The Lebanese crisis may indeed be the occasion for a radical transformation of the international aid system, which would thus cease to be complicit in the existing power structures, and would then be led by moral reason. Such a change would be the most effective way to help the Lebanese, but also the Syrians, Palestinians and migrant workers who reside in Lebanon.

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