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Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship


16 - 20 May, 2016            The American Political Science Association’s (APSA) MENA Workshop Civil Society
Revisited: Researching Associational Life in Comparative Perspective 2016(In collaboration 
                                     with Boston University,
 Northeastern University and the American University in Cairo). 

The Asfari Institute has partnered with Boston University, Northeastern University and the American University in Cairo for leadership of the 2016 workshops organized by the American Political Science Association. The APSA workshops target Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers currently based at institutions in the Middle East and North Africa, in addition to some from universities in the United States and Europe. Within a political science discipline, the 2016 workshop aims to encourage research on the above topic and strengthen research and analytical skills. It also provides a unique opportunity to network with colleagues from across the region and beyond to develop research related to civil society in the region and to changing state-society dynamics engendered by the Arab Uprisings post-2010. A call for papers was issued in autumn and applications underwent a first review by workshop leaders in a meeting in Cairo on 9 January 2016. More than 22 finalists will be invited to an initial introductory and methodology workshop at the American University in Beirut in May, spend the summer undertaking their projects, and then participate in a second workshop at AUC in September/October where findings will be shared and discussed. A selection of papers will eventually be published on the web site of BCARS (Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies) after peer-review. The Asfari Institute is pleased to be part of this important effort and looks forward to significant added knowledge on civil society in the MENA region.


27 & 28 Feb., 2016               Introduction to Refugee Rights in International Law for Civil Society 
                                                 a two-day short Course in Arabic

Mr. Fateh Azzam, director of the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, introduced ten participants from civil society organizations in Lebanon to the basic principles of refugee rights.  The short course covered refugee rights provisions in international treaties and conventions including the 1951 Geneva Refugees’ Convention, human rights treaties and international humanitarian law; terms, legal definitions and concepts; determination of refugee rights according to those references and definitions; the role of states and United Nations organizations in the protection and support of refugees; and the political and legal issues arising from states’  responsibilities and the occasional clash of rights, interests and bureaucracies affecting refugee enjoyment of their rights. Discussions of specific economic, social and civil rights of refugees were brought to life by palpable examples from the participants’ own experiences in working with refugees on the ground.  

24 & 25 Feb., 2016               Civil Society Engagement with the League of Arab States
                                                  with Open Society Foundation

The Asfari Institute in collaboration with Open Society Foundation organized a roundtable about civil society’s engagement with the League of Arab States. The roundtable gathered experts, practitioners and civil society actors who have been involved in the work of the League and other regional and international mechanisms. Based on these experiences and expertise the attendees tried to think together about the ways in which to enhance communication between civil society and the League. The participants put forward a range of questions, including: what is the nature of the relation between civil society organizations and the Arab League? Is there a need to develop this relation further? And what practical proposals can be put forward in order to enhance this relation?


16 - 20 Jan., 2016                    RRR Course: Relief, Reconstruction and Recovery
                                                   Fateh Azzam

Fateh Azzam taught two sessions of AUB’s winter session course Relief, Reconstruction and Recovery, given jointly by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies and the Center for Civil Engagement. Mr. Azzam’s sessions focused on the human rights-based approach to recovery and service provision, which focuses on reliance on human rights standards, accountability, the participation of citizens and intended beneficiaries, and the ‘do no harm’ principle.


21 & 28 Nov., 2015              Understanding Local Policy Making for Advocacy
                                                  Mahmoud Haidar

Mahmoud Haidar said, "during the workshop - absent from any advocacy in Lebanon is recognition of the administration agencies’ legal responsibilities and political power. Furthermore, for those working in advocacy, it is critical for them to understand that law happens in the courts - laws are not simply enforced because they are passed."

24 & 29 Nov., 2015               Empowering Public Speaking Skills for Activists
                                                  Dr. Rania Masri

This two-day training was given by Dr. Rania Masri, associate director of the Asfari Institute and experienced public speaker and speechwriter. The workshop was open to any individual passionate about social justice and positive change, and not limited to the AUB community. Participants did learn how best to write, edit, and perform a speech for particular audiences. Time was spent on techniques, and on collectively giving feedback.

17,18 & 24 Oct., 2015           Cross Media Tools vis-à-vis Social and Political Campaigns 
                                                  Maher Shehadeh

Within the period of the workshop, the participants did thoroughly discuss and examine the concept of running effective campaigns using cross media tools. The conceptual, technical and practical aspects were the main focus of the entire workshop.

Fall 2015                                  Political Ecology and Social Change
                                                   Graduate course, by Dr. Rania Masri

This course
contextualizes political ecology within the Arab region, and, using this framework, examines both the environmental issues facing the region, and the different manners through which civil society organizes around those issues.


9 &10 Mar., 2015                     Short Course: Palestinian Refugees and International Law 
Taught by the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre.

The course focuses on a socio-political historical narrative of the refugee issue, the current legal status of Palestinian refugees and their rights under international law. It aims at increasing foundational information on this issue for practitioners in the field.

29 Jan., 2015                              Presentation and discussion: Mixed feelings; identity, ‘race’ and family in Lebanon
                                                     In collaboration with Artscape and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East Foundation

This event will showcase a selection of text and photos from the personal archives of 14 Lebanese families of African/Asian heritage, and will include a talk about racism.

24 & 31 Jan., 2015                     Public Speaking Workshop

This two-day (8 am to 5 pm) training workshop, given by Rania Masri and designed for any individual passionate about social justice and positive change, focused on techniques in writing, editing, and performing speeches for particular audiences. It was the first of many training workshops.
Forty-four people applied; fourteen people were accepted to participate in this training. Feedback from the workshop was excellent, with one participant writing: “one of the best workshops I’ve ever participated in.

2 Dec., 2014                                Narratives of Hope: Palestine in Literature
                                                       In collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Initiative and the AUB English Department

Lecture by Jordanian-Palestinian novelist and poet Ibrahim Nasrallah, accompanied by musicians Amal Kaawash (Palestine) and Abo Gabi (Syria), and introduced by Tariq Mehmood and Rania Masri. The event was one of a series of lectures and discussions on the impact of literature and the arts of resistance on the exercise of global citizenship.

27 Nov., 2014                               Palestine, the Occupation and the Fourth Geneva Convention: Reinvigorating International
                                                        law in the Occupied Territory
                                                        In collaboration with the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA)

Seminar by expert and researcher in international human rights and humanitarian law professor, Karim El-Mufti, and professor of international law and conflict resolution, Mireille Fanon-Mendes. The seminar was moderated by lawyer and legal researcher, Nizar Saghiyeh

 22 Oct., 2014                                Workshop with Lebanese Civil Society Activists
                                                         Abdel-Basset Ben Hassen, President, Arab Institute for Human Rights (Tunisia)

Ben Hassen shared the Tunisian civil society’s successful experience in affecting and preserving the values of the Tunisian revolution, and what lessons were learnt. Participants explored commonalities and differences and the potential for the lessons’ applicability in Lebanon

8 Oct., 2014                                   Presentation and discussion: 
Racism and ‘othering’ in Lebanon from a Lebanese perspective
                                                        In collaboration with Dar Al Mussawir, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East Foundation, Insan & IFI        

In this panel discussion Lebanese citizens of African and other mixed descent shared their experiences of being victims of racial slurs in schools and discrimination and racism in society and general lack of acceptance. A portrait exhibit of young mixed-race Lebanese visually brought it all home.




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