Resilience of Power-sharing Politics and Institutions: Lebanon amidst the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Project description

The Arab region is in crisis and at the heart of this crisis has been the large-scale violence and unprecedented refugee crisis in Syria. Lebanon neighbors Syria and has had a precarious relationship with the Syrian regime for many decades. This research explores the dyadic relationship between the Lebanese political system and the Syrian refugee crisis. Political systems and political actors across the world influence policy responses to refugee crises and to immigration policies. The politicization of refugee policies is increasingly recognized in both academia and in practice. But politics in Lebanon constitute an under-theorized dimension of the refugee crisis. The paradigm of a weak state in Lebanon has a skewed analysis of the refugee crisis in the direction of focusing on international donor support and on the role of local municipalities. I argue that the refugee crisis did not shake the foundation of power-sharing politics in Lebanon and I show how power-sharing institutions shaped the policy response to the crisis between 2012 and 2018. At present, discussions on the right of refugees to return to Syria continue to be shaped by the Lebanese political system, and in turn the political system is being influenced by the refugee crisis in a way that makes it more resilient, albeit at the expense of violation of international treaties and the protection of the rights of refugees. This project seeks to unpack the puzzle of how and why the Lebanese system exhibits resilience amidst crisis? And more importantly perhaps, the project seeks to explain how this resilience influences the policies towards Syrian refugees?

The project has been made possible through AUB's University Research Board Funding. It comprises a series of articles and a forthcoming policy brief.


First name Last name Gender Rank Affiliated Institution Country
Carmen Geha Female Assistant Professor American University of Beirut Lebanon

Bio: Carmen Geha is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at AUB. She teaches courses on public and human resource management, leadership and civic engagement. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the Weatherhead Center in Harvard University (Spring 2018) and at the Watson Institute in Brown University (Summer 2015). Carmen’s research focuses on the nexus of political systems, mobilization and reform in the Middle East and North Africa. She is particularly interested in refugee policies, women’s political participation, civil society and protest movements. She is the 2018-2019 fellow at the Summer Program for Social Sciences in the Institute for Advanced Study.

Carmen is author of “Civil Society and Political Reform in Lebanon and Libya” (Routledge, 2016). She has published articles in the Journal of North African Studies and the British Journal for Middle Eastern Studies. She is also currently a Princial Investigator on two research grants focusing on the Syrian refugee crisis and on civic education for refugees.

In addition to her academic track, Carmen has had almost a decade of experience in development work as a consultant to governments, UN agencies and international organizations in Myanmar, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq. She has led policy, research and capacity building projects on social cohesion, women’s political representation, voter education, constitutional dialogue, and local governance.

Carmen is an activist and a founding member of leading of campaigns and coalitions on access to information, electoral reform, and anti-racism. She currently serves as a member of the National Commission for Lebanese Women. She holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews, and a BA and MA in Public Administration from the American University of Beirut.



Scientific field

Political Science

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