Conclusions of the co-chairs (France and United Nations) – Conference in support of the people of Lebanon, August 4, 2021 – Lebanon
The Conference in Support of the Lebanese Population was held on August 4, 2021 by videoconference, at the joint invitation of the President of the French Republic and the Secretary General of the United Nations. Thirty-three states, thirteen international organizations and five representatives of Lebanese civil society took part in the discussions.
A year ago today, a terrible explosion devastated the port of Beirut and its surroundings. The international community has expressed its solidarity. A support conference, convened on August 9, 2020, organized a first emergency humanitarian response. A second conference was held on December 2, 2020, to generate additional support and encourage the start of a medium-term recovery effort.
One year after the explosion, the participants of the Conference and the Lebanese people commemorated this tragic anniversary, noted a major deterioration in the living conditions of the entire Lebanese population and called on the Lebanese political class to be held to account in order to do so. all the light on the explosion.
Today, the crisis affects all of Lebanon and all of its inhabitants. This crisis is economic and financial, and is one of the three worst in the world since the middle of the 19th century according to the World Bank. It is also a social crisis, as essential needs and basic service supplies are no longer provided to a large part of the population. It is also a food crisis, and it is turning into a humanitarian crisis. It is a political crisis, for which the responsibility rests with political leaders, marked by the impasse in the formation of a government capable of implementing the most urgent reforms. Finally, there is a crisis of confidence, both between the Lebanese people and their leaders and between these leaders and the international community.
In this particularly difficult context, the Conference welcomed the fact that all of the aid promised a year ago had been disbursed. Participants responded to a new UN humanitarian appeal for $ 357 million over the next 12 months, pledging financial support totaling around $ 370 million, to which should be added a substantial in-kind assistance. The objective is in particular to meet the most urgent needs in terms of food security, water and sanitation, health and education.
Participants stressed that this additional support aims to save lives and is by no means a lasting solution to the difficulties facing Lebanon. These require above all the formation of a government that implements the reforms promised since the CEDRE conference in 2018, which were recalled on September 1, 2020 in the roadmap adopted by all the Lebanese political forces. The participants underlined that the implementation of these decisions remains critical for any structural financial support on their part.
Conference participants welcomed the appointment of Mr. Najib Mikati as Prime Minister and called for a government dedicated to saving the country.
As soon as it is formed, the new government will have to focus on quickly launching, conducting and concluding negotiations in good faith with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He will also have to prepare for the 2022 elections, which must be transparent and impartial and be held on schedule.
The Conference discussed the measures required by the worsening crisis.
The gradual lifting of subsidies to essential products should be accompanied by the creation of social safety nets, in particular through the immediate implementation of the World Bank loan for the emergency social safety net (ESSN). The distribution of prepaid cards and the preparation of the lists of beneficiaries that it requires must be done in full transparency.
Conference participants noted that the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction (3RF) Framework has been implemented and allows for better donor coordination and a major role for civil society. The Lebanon Finance Facility (LFF), a multi-donor trust fund of the World Bank, is expected to begin disbursements without bureaucratic hurdles in the days following this Conference, making the first grants to SMEs. Current contributors encourage other donors to join them.
At a time when the Lebanese economy is in deep recession, the banking and financial sector must play its normal role of financing the real economy. The management of the financial crisis must begin immediately, within the framework of a plan and a law on bank resolution based on fair and transparent rules guaranteeing the contribution of the actors of this financial crisis.
Participants noted that Lebanon will soon receive its share (approximately $ 900 million) of the universal and unconditional allocation of Special Drawing Rights from the IMF, with the primary purpose of dealing with the recession and the consequences of the global crisis. public health. They recommended that the use of these resources be decided in full transparency, in conjunction with civil society, be subject to real-time monitoring and ex-post evaluation and, finally, contribute to the development of appropriate public policies. They agreed to follow closely and come back to this topic.
The participants felt that, in accordance with the expectations of the Lebanese people, the development model of the country must be rethought to ensure the return of the country in a process of sustainable development and centered on the human being. Humanitarian aid cannot be a long-term solution and the development of a program with the IMF must be linked to the prospect of renewed governance and a new development model anchored in the 2030 Agenda for the sustainable development.
Participants were concerned about delays in the investigation into the August 4 explosion. They also noted with concern the operational situation of the Port of Beirut. They called on the Lebanese authorities to immediately take the necessary measures for adequate maintenance and for the reconstruction of the parts of the port which were destroyed. Lebanon’s greatest asset is its people. The crisis and the effects of the political impasse are leading more and more Lebanese to leave their country. This is a major risk for the future of the country and which is already endangering the sectors of excellence in Lebanon, in particular education and health.
Conference participants stressed that forming a government to immediately implement much-needed reforms is the first step in a sustained effort to address the challenges facing Lebanon. The participants stand alongside the Lebanese people on this path and intend to continue their dialogue with national institutions and Lebanese civil society. They confirmed their determination to use all available instruments to provide direct support to the population. However, structural economic and financial assistance will require profound changes expected of Lebanese leaders.