Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Cedric Choukeir

Comparing election law alternatives for Lebanon’s Parliamentary election (in 2014)

Note: Mind you that this article was written in 2014.

Since then 17 alternative laws have been presented and none of them were discussed in Parliament, with the tacit intention of renewing their mandate without any election. This parliament renewed their tenure twice and is about to renew it for a few more months.

This year 2017 is witnessing the same process in order Not to change the law. Apparently, a form of proportional is becoming inevitable, though the districts are meant to retain the old feudal and militia leaders.

The new season and collection of political headlines is out in Lebanon, and this year’s theme is the electoral law.

It is all we can read and hear about these days no matter where we turn; national TV, newspapers, facebook, twitter, bakeries, and even coffee shops.

Let’s try to go through our different options together and objectively determine what law to support.

Law-Proposals

In case you are not familiar with the terms, simple majority means winner takes all.

while proportional representation means you get a seat if your support is just the right size (If small politicians do not support proportional representation then they are not small… they are micro).

The above presents five proposals with coalitions, the government, and independent politicians pushing and shoving for one over the other.

The only thing that is common, and that all our politicians practically agree on, is to keep the sectarian division. This means the Parliament is divided based on religious representation.

Some politicians might claim one proposal is “more sectarian” than the other, but that is just because they will lose a couple of seats in Parliament, not because of their ideals.

The sad truth is that the politicians today are negotiating the results of the elections. They are simply re-dividing the seats among each other and negotiating the distribution of power in Lebanon.

Most voters will continue to vote for the same leader they have been voting for during the past couple of decades.

What we are looking at is a simple game of rotating thrones between lords. The only difference is that we have more than 30 lords seeking the throne, and the Realm is one twelfth the size of New York State.

(Actually, only 5 leaders are deciding of everything in Lebanon. Once they agree, the process follow through)

So to answer the question I posed in the beginning of the article on which electoral law to choose, my answer is none.

I refuse to enter a selection process that is completely separated from the notion of freedom.

I will not wait for the results of the brokered deal to know how free the electoral law will make me. I am free today by making my own choices based on my reason, emotions, and beliefs.

I choose to do what is right for me and for the people in my society. That is the electoral law I will support.

Cedric Choukeir is the regional director of the the World Youth Alliance in the Middle East and North Africa.

 

A Series of White Papers on the Garbage Crisis in Lebanon

Issue #1: Sukleen’s Waste Mangement; Reality versus Myth Author: Sahar Tarhini

The ins and outs of SUKLEEN and SUKOMI’s contracts: take a look at what the $2 billion from the independent municipal fund were paid for!

Why do we need White Papers on garbage?

The majority of the Lebanese public opinion is shaped by the information shared on mass media and social media.

A lot of that information is misrepresented in a way that limits the reader’s ability to build a sound opinion regarding a public issue.

Within today’s chaotic disputes around the garbage crisis, YEF wants to share sound information that can positively feed into the ongoing debates. Within this framework, and with the support of YEF’s research interns, a series of white papers are being published on the garbage crisis in Lebanon.

This is the first white paper of the series and its focus is on Sukleen’s track record for managing waste in Lebanon.

We will look into contract conditions, prices, and actual implementation

Background Information

Sukleen has been contracted by the Lebanese government to collect the waste in Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon since 1994.

In 1997 following the closing of the Bourj Hammoud dump site, the government decided to implement an Emergency Waste Management plan.

In 1998, the contract with Sukleen was expanded to include its partner organization, Sukomi. Both are divisions of the parent company Averda, which operates throughout the Arab region, and has expanded significantly since 2008 with major investments coming from Growthgate Capital.

Sukomi was charged with management of the then newly designated landfill in Naameh.

Since 1998, Sukleen/Sukomi has been responsible for the garbage collection, partial recycling and treatment, and landfilling, while the Lebanese government is responsible for providing the landfills.

Although the contract expired on July 17 2015, Sukleen continued to collect waste.

According to Averda, during the contract period, there were more than 1500 laborers collecting and processing 2500 tons of garbage per day at the recycling plants. However, the Naameh landfill far surpassed its maximum capacity of 2 million tons, and this is why the garbage crisis started.

So far Sukleen has refused to participate in any new waste management tenders. (But the government let it resume the collect and weeping part for $50 million for 18 months?)

What do the contracts with Sukleen/Sukomi state? Contract Description Contractor Contract Dates Period Total Amount Paid by CDR Source of Funding
COLLECTION & SWEEPING Estimated Cost from 1995 – 2015 USD 780 Million Solid Waste collection and sweeping of Greater Beirut and its surroundings Sukleen Dec 1995 – Aug 2007 (with extensions) 12 years USD 383 Million (estimate) Independent Municipal Fund
Solid Waste collection and sweeping of Greater Beirut and its surroundings Sukleen Sep 2007 – Apr 2015 8 years USD 384 Million Independent Municipal Fund
Supervision of garbage collection in Greater Beirut and its surroundings DG Jones & Partners Mar 1996 – Apr 2015 19 years USD 13 Million Council of Development & Reconstruction
PROCESSING WASTE Estimated Cost from 1998 – 2015 USD 684 Million Operating and Maintenance of a Household solid waste processing plants for Greater Beirut and its surrounding (Aamroussiyeh and Karantina) Sukomi Jun 1998 – May 2008 10 yeas USD 284 Million Independent Municipal Fund
Operating and Maintenance of a Household solid waste processing plants for Greater Beirut and its surrounding (Aamroussiyeh and Karantina) Sukomi Aug 2007 – Apr 2015 8 years USD 372 Million Independent Municipal Fund
Supervision of Processing Plant Operations Laceco Jun 1998 – May 2008 8 years USD 13 Million (estimate) Independent Municipal Fund
Supervision of Processing Plant Operations Laceco Jun 2007 – Apr 2015 8 years USD 15 Million Independent Municipal Fund
LANDFILLING Estimated Cost from 1998 – 2015 USD 607 Million Designing and Operating Sanitary Landfill for Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon Sukomi Jan 1998 – Feb 2008 10 years USD 233 Million Independent Municipal Fund
Designing and Operating Sanitary Landfill for Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon Sukomi Aug 2007 – Apr 2015 8 years USD 346 Million Independent Municipal Fund
Supervision of Sanitary Landfill Operations for Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon Laceco Jan 1998 – Feb 2008 10 years USD 13 Million (estimate) Independent Municipal Fund
Supervision of Sanitary Landfill Operations for Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon Laceco May 2007 – Apr 2015 8 years USD 15 Million Independent Municipal Fund

 

Its scheduled closure date was set on the 17th of January 2015. This deadline was extended twice for a 3-month period, the last being on 17 July 2015.

What is Sukleen’s current position?

Sukleen serves municipalities that have provided alternative temporary storage space for baled waste. The management of these sites is the responsibility of the municipality, and Sukleen’s role in this instance is solely the haulage to the site.

Sukleen has been instructed by the Government, in the absence of any other solution, to continue the street cleaning and waste collection services for the transition period and until the new contractors are in place.

According to Sukleen’s website, it has decided not to participate in the recent Waste Management tenders for Lebanon due to the following considerations:

1. Sukleen cannot secure and provide new landfill locations.

2. The pre-requisite diversion from landfill and recycling rates cannot be achieved within six months.

3. The method of collection which has been in place for the last twenty years, and is also stipulated in the new tender, is based around the collection of bins from streets and curbsides. Today, with the continuing urbanization, population growth and the increase in vehicular traffic, this operating model is no longer appropriate and requires a modern, progressive approach and methodology.

What is Sukleen’s role in Chehayeb’s current Waste Management Plan?

(Chehayeb is the minister of agriculture but was appointed to handle the garbage crisis. Why? He is the same minister to handled the Bour Hammoud crisis in 1997 and was paid handsome on the side for dealing with his militia leader Walid Jumblat to open the Na3emeh landfill. Chehayeb has been meeting with representatives of the youth movements with expertise in waste management, but refuses to take notes or care for their inputs and solutions)

The Cabinet extended one part of Sukleen’s contract for 18 months. The extension covers the process of collecting garbage only. The section related to treating garbage and managing landfills is not part of the plan.

yefevent@gmail.com | http://www.yef-lb.org | Facebook/yeflebanon

Costs USD$/ton
Collection 25
Sorting 26
Bailing 16
Wrapping 13
Landfilling 52 (from 0 to 400,000 ton/year)

38 (from 400,001 to 500,000 ton/year)

45 (› 500,001 ton/year)

Composting 30
Total 130
Based on the above table, we can see how much each of the waste management contractors were paid by the Council of Development and Reconstruction over the past 20 years. Contractor Amount Paid Period
Sukleen USD 767 Million 1995 – 2015
Sukomi USD 1,235 Million 1998 – 2015
Laceco USD 56 Million 1998 – 2015
DG Jones & Partners USD 13 Million 1996 – 2015
TOTAL USD 2,071 Million 1995 – 2015

The Judges, the Righteous, and the Honorable

Cedric Choukeir, regional director of the World Youth Alliance in the Middle East, posted this Oct.5, 2013:

Lately, I find myself repeatedly wondering whether our ability to choose is a gift at the heart of human freedom or a curse that keeps my mind preoccupied as it is now in choosing the words of this blog post.

Charles Malik defines humans as struggling and caring beings, struggling because they constantly have to make irreversible choices, while caring for the impact of these choices on themselves and on others.

How do we make our choices today, at a personal and global level, in a world of continuous injustice?

So the question is narrowed down to a simple “how can we know what the right choice is… if there ever was one…

Let me clarify that this is not a simple mathematical calculation of choosing the option that provides me with the highest return. I would probably define that as the “the best choice that benefits only me on the short term”.

This version of the best choice is not always the right choice. The best choice for me might not be the best choice for you and so we enter into an internal debate of placing ourselves somewhere between two extremes; one of selfishness and another of sacrifice.

What follows is my modest contribution in my quest in search of the right rather than the best.

I would like to think that acting upon our decisions usually involves three parties, the subject, the object, and the collateral damage or collateral benefits. The choices I make can affect me, the person I am directing my choices at, and people who are not directly involved in my decision.

Every day, we are faced with situations of conflict with other people caused by contradictory interests, beliefs, practices, or simply bad communication skills. Let’s face it, in almost every situation of conflict, both parties involved think they are right.

By thinking that I am right, I feel that an injustice has been done to me and therefore I make my decisions in order to “restore that justice”.

For example, my boss scolds me in front of other employees for not being professional. I feel a certain injustice when I see my boss being unprofessional himself and doing what I myself was being scolded for (Disclaimer:  I am not hinting to the lack of professionalism of WYA’s president… my boss).

I get the a feeling that I need to restore justice or else I will lose part of what my Arab brothers would call “dignity”, when in fact it is just pride.

In fact, I think the loss of pride leads to more humility, which might not be such a bad thing after all, but that is a separate topic for another post. So restoring justice always caries its price.  In this case, I might lose my job, a promotion, or simply the good favor of my boss.

So I need to make a choice, do I fight to restore my pride or do I suck it up and become a boot-licker?

I personally would chose the second option and substitute the term of “sucking it up” with “making the smart choice”. I am willing to sacrifice my pride as it is born of my ego, which needs to be kept in check.

However, honor is a different matter. It is built on right decisions aimed at doing good, (I am not referring to the hereditary family honor of the European dark ages and modern Arab societies).

To complicate things further, let me consider the situation where I feel an obligation to restore justice to those who do not have the ability to do it themselves.

Let me take the example regarding the likely use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad regime. President Obama felt the need to restore justice by punishing Bashar through a military strike.

The truth is that a military strike might have restored the heavenly sense of the word justice, but it would have led to the death of the same civilians whose justice Obama vowed to uphold. The strike would have had a short term and long term collateral damage on the Syrian population sitting idly between the two men.

The short term damage refers to the civilian causalities caused by western military interventions that media likes to ignore (such as the 125,000 dead civilians between 2003 and 2013 caused by the war on Iraq).

The long term damage refers to clearing the ground for Al Qaeda linked Jihadists to strengthen their grip on Syria. Luckily, Obama decided to suck it up and make the smart decision.

Restoring justice puts the person in the seat of the judge, a position for someone who supposedly knows what is right or wrong. In making that judgment, remember not to step on others’ toes as you pass your judgment and do not ignore the collateral damage you may cause.

The right choice is not about your personal pride or the pride of the person you are judging, it is about doing what is best for the other negatively affected people. Making the right choice requires a bit of humility, and in that humility you are able to find yourself and achieve a true sense of honor.

Youth representation? Where has youth participated? How about youth manipulation?

Is the topic of youth inclusion gaining more momentum with international organizations?  Are young people around the world playing a more important role in influencing decision-makers?

Government representation at the international level is an easy matter of a decision from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Youth representatives present more complications, as young people are often used to promote the agendas and interests of certain countries or agencies.

The defunct Egyptian President Morsi got it loud and clear as youth unfurled their anger and determination in mass monster demonstrations to oust a government that forgot the youth needs and wants…

The unemployment in Greece for youth under 25 is about 35%. The official rates in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland are not dropping bellow 25%.

The trick is that in these States, in order to vent off the anger and frustration of the unemployed youth, governments keep deciding on early elections, even after a 6-month stint, and the results are the same in resolution and consequences.

Governments change quickly, but the youth are never asked to participate and be represented in how policies should be changed.

Cedric Choukeir,  the Regional Director of the World Youth Alliance in the Middle East and North Africa, posted this July 2, 2013:

I recently attended the regional Arab States Conference for the ICPD +20 that took place from June 24 till June 26 in Egypt.

The aim of the conference was to review the progress made so far regarding the ICPD program of action over the past 19 years in the Arab region and to come up with a declaration that would feed into the UN General Assembly Special Session on ICPD Beyond 2014 that is planned to take place in September 2014.

Youth participation played a key role in shaping the declaration of the conference, as the unofficial representatives were given a 30 minute panel to lead, along with a seat in the negations of the drafting committee. The youth representative was being allowed to participate in the negotiations in the same manner as country delegations do; a practice that goes against UN protocol.

Unfortunately, youth participation was monopolized by the UNFPA sponsoredArab Youth Coalition for the ICPD Beyond 2014” that included mostly UNFPA partner youth NGOs and 15 International Planned Parenthood Federation staff members.

Donor funding highly influenced the coalition’s priorities as can be seen from their Call to Action, a replica of the UNFPA agenda.

In the region that has the highest youth unemployment rates in the World, the four page call to action fails to mention the issue even once.

This is a call out to country representatives and young people all around the world not be fooled by well branded youth representatives. It is important to ask:

who is funding their travel expenses and five star hotels?

why they are being funded?

which organizations they represent? and

how they decide on their priorities?

Most youth coalitions “created specifically” to advocate for one conference, such as the ICPD, build their advocacy messages with the aid of facilitators from the funding agency that direct them based on the agency’s goals. The selection process is also very important, as there is usually no open call for youth NGOs to join the coalition, and only the NGOs that are in line with the funding agency’s positions are invited to join.

These fake coalitions should ask youth in the Arab region what they truly want before monopolizing their voice and handing it over to an international organization with an agenda that is contradictory to the region’s priorities.

Note:  A comment said: “What about sexual health and relationships?”

Cedric’s replied: “Nope none of the kids we spoke to talked about that. They’re not interested. Their priorities are taking care of their brothers and sisters and housekeeping” “can you ask them about sex then?”

Cedric resumed: “In working with young Lebanese all over Lebanon over three years… when I open up the floor for them to talk about their priorities, not once has once of them even come close to mentioning the subject! I did an online poll in 24 hours for youth in the Arab region and asked about the priorities and I included sexual and reproductive health on purpose as an option, out of 501 votes, it got only 2…

Gods of War dominate the landscape. God of Love is boring and frustrating…

In the name of God I will murder, conquer, and oppress.

In the name of My God” summarizes centuries of exploitation and misinterpretation of religious values by oppressors and dictators. A practice that continues to exist in almost every conflict, even today, regardless of the globalization, the spread of education, and the mainstreaming of the international human rights agenda.

In antiquity, the God of War was very specific, among the pantheon of all the Gods that represented the power of nature and the vast potentials of Man and the animal kingdoms.

When armies went to war in the name of the God of War, they knew that they were going to loot other people, and not in the name of Democracy or Freedom or Liberty.

All these abstract notions are currently used as smokescreen to loot the oil and raw materials…

The pagan Gods honored Man and nature, and never to humiliate people. All these Gods had the same stories and myths. A traveler didn’t asks for a name, but to the function of the God of the temple. And they worshiped whatever God interested their current desires, anywhere they were. Religion was never a problem to the wise men of antiquity: Religion was a support to the daily turmoil and anxieties.

The recent abstract unique God, forced on people to acknowledge its existence or belief in ONE Universal God, is destroying the environment and reducing a person to a cheap ingredient...

Many thinkers have come to the conclusion that God is the problem in all this equation; if everyone is killing in the name of God, then let’s erase God from the minds of people.  And society will learn to avoid violent conflicts.

In order to achieve world peace, we first have to analyze the nature of conflict and people.

Cedric Choukeir, regional director of WYA in the Middle East and North Africa, posted:

People, by their nature, are always struggling with themselves and their environment, a point that Charles Malik, the Lebanese diplomat and philosopher, constantly mentions in his writings. Constant struggles among people means that conflict will always exist, the question is how are we resolving these conflicts.

Do religions have a positive or negative role to play in the resolution process?

Let us not bury our heads in the sand, religions have played a major role in the bloodshed across the world and history.

Religion is a powerful tool that drives the masses, but as any tool, it can be used for good or for bad. Its misuse can drive the masses to commit human sacrifices, genocide, crusades, and suicide bombings.

When properly interpreted, religion can also lead to good deeds including the positive influence of the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, along with Christian and Muslim charity organizations.

If we delete religious and spiritual values from our cultures and societies we will end up with a very pale perspective on life.

All religions and beliefs have something to contribute to our understanding of the human person. Religions should be a reason for people to come together and appreciate diversity rather than seek to homogenized humanity.

We, as Middle Eastern youth, should extract the lessons learned from previous failed experiences rather than simply run away from them without looking back.

We need to agree on a common set of universal human values that respect the different cultures and traditions and that guide our decisions towards the improvement of our societies.

We need to focus on the common ground between us rather than highlight the differences.

Being jihadists or completely faithless has an equally detrimental impact on society, so let us create a place that respects the dignity of people without letting go of our roots, traditions, and beliefs.

No religion today worships a God of War, so let us not fight a war in his name.


Are “Arab Moderates” on the Brink of Extinction?

Around 1840, the Christian Maronite peasants working for the Druze landlords in the Mount Lebanon, in the Chouf and the southern part of the Mountain, experienced a huge increase in these provinces.   Maronites peasants became sort of majority in many villages.

The Maronite clergy wanted to extend its power base and incited the Maronite peasants to confront the dominant leadership. A quick massacre of the peasants who were not equipped to face the warlike Druze convinced the Maronite clergy that the timing was deadly wrong: The Egyptian Ibrahim Pasha (son of Muhammad Ali) had retreated from Lebanon and Syria and Emir Bashir II, who supported the Marnite and the Egyptian forces, was dispatched by the British into exile to the island of Malta.

In 1858, the Maronite peasants surged against the Maronite feudal landlords in the Maronite province of Kesrouan. The clergy supported the upheaval because the landlords went overboard by treating the peasants as chattle and displaying disrespect to the power of the clergy. The movement was successful and the landlords cowed down.

Actually the peasant movement was so successful that a convention was held in the town of Antelias by the leader Tanios Chahine in 1858 to demand further rights and due election process for the muhktars and community leaders…  This time around, the clergy sided with the landlords and crushed the peasant movement.

In order to divert the passions in the Maronite districts, the clergy incited the Maronite peasants in the Druze dominated regions.

It is chronicled, as most history stories go, that in 1860, a dispute erupts between two children in a village of Mount Lebanon.  One child is a Moslem Druze and the other Christian Maronite. The dispute leads to the massacre of 25,000 people across Lebanon and Syria, particularly in Damascus.  Many Maronite fled and took refuge in Shiaa villages for protection. That’s how you find Christians in south Lebanon.

Abdel Kader, the Algerian who led the resistance against the French occupation of Algeria in around 1850, was in exile in Damascus and played a key role in diffusing the sectarian passions, and prevented more massacres across the other major cities in Syria.

Years later, a lapse of century and a half, the situation in the Middle East has not changed.

Tensions between the diverse religious, social, and ethnic groups are at a peek and may explode with the slightest trigger. The Arab spring is turning grey, and fear of extinction is spreading among minority groups, moderation is no longer an option.

Cedric Choukeir,  Regional Director, WYA Middle East, posted this April 25, 2013:

“Tunisia, the first country that experienced the Arab uprising, is finding it difficult to agree on a common vision for the future of the Tunisian society. The toppling of the government provided an opportunity for change, a change that may include the political, economic, and social elimination of national counterparts.

This fear has led the Muslims in Tunisia to become more extreme and the secular population to go more secular. With the disappearance of moderate views, channels of communication between opposing views are decreasing:  leaving violence as the only way of mediating conflict.

This violent trend is clearer in post-revolution Egypt.

The government after the Tahrir Square mobilization is paralyzed and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are continuously clashing with the supporters of a secular rule. The clash of ideas is no longer a academic debate, it has become a real danger resulting in the death of Egyptians on a daily basis.

The minorities, including the Coptic Christians, have been targeted several times. Burning churches and mosques is not a thing of the past, it is happening today.

The above scenarios are similar in most of the countries across the Arab region with violence erupting between Muslim Sunnis, Muslim Shiites, Alawites, Christians, Kurds and Berbers.

We need to advance moderate views and open more channels of communication, built on a common understanding of who the human person is. We need to see each other as equals with different views in one global family.

Hopefully, we will be able to reverse the trend before the next regional war is triggered by a dispute between two children…” End of Cedric’s post

Arab moderates? Arab moderate leaders?

It is about time to establish a set of operational indicators that determine who is this faceless” moderate”.

So far, “Arab” leaders and leaders in developing States have been middlemen between the developed State and their local financial institutions that are the real owners of means of production.

A moderate leader, if moderation is a good connotation in community setting, should:

1. Focus on increasing the development of UN human indicators, such as infantile mortality…

2. Promoting universal rights to all citizens in healthcare and quality education

3. Encouraging syndicates and associations to lead local communities to negotiate with authority figures…

4. Disseminate and enhance freedom of opinion and gathering…

5. Instituting equitable and fair election laws…

Foreign governments will learn that they are dealing with a people-citizen who regained dignity and are not about to play the role of  vassal, waiting for the ultimate order from outside forces to dictate the political and social reforms…

Note: There are no Abdel Kader hero figures in current Syria to help stop the bloodshed.


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