Discussion with Philip Lazzarini onThe Comparative Work of UN Organizations in Lebanon and Other Countries

Beirut, Lebanon – On Tuesday, February 23rd, The Institute of Social Justice and Conflict Resolution at the Lebanese American University had the privilege of hosting Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, UN Resident Coordinator in Lebanon, as a guest lecturer.  Lazzarini who was introduce by the Institute Director Dr. Imad Salamey, discussed what the United Nations’ is all about, what it promotes, his role as Resident Coordinator, and emphasized the role it plays in confronting refugee crisis. 


He tackled current problems residing in Lebanon, such as the trash crisis, sectarian issues and refugees’ predicament, and discussed how we can work together with UN assistants help resolve these difficulties.  Lazzarini also discussed his current works on Gender and youth policies in Lebanon. He voiced his admiration for Lebanon being known as resilient and diverse, amongst other positive aspects. The discourse ended with a questions and answer session with audience interacting with speakers on issues related to extend to which the UN work can take over government deficiencies and inactions regarding vital national issues, including the environment, human and refugee rights.

Audience Response to Guest Speaker

On September 23rd 2016, my classmates and I in the Comparative Politics course were privileged to have Philippe Lazzarini as a guest speaker. Philippe Lazzarini started off with specifying the reasons behind the establishment of United Nations and he goes on about the specific roles of the UN. To begin with, one of the first things he said that made me look at things differently is that Lebanon is the best location in the Arab world for having the Headquarters, since it is extremely diverse and it’s the safe haven in the Middle East. I never knew the reason behind the UN headquarters in the Arab World being located in Lebanon untilnow. There are various new lessons that I acquired from listening to Philippe Lazzarini. I learned that the reason for the United Nations being in Lebanon in the first place was actually because of the Israeli conflict in 1948. I also learned about the Sustainable Development Goal, where the main point on its agenda is to eradicate poverty in 15 years. Other goals on the agenda are establishing social welfare, justice and equality. Moving on to the discussion part with the students, my friend asked him what his thoughts are on the garbage crisis and if the UN is taking any initiative to solve this devastating problem. Mr. Lazzarini stated that this issue is very crucial and should be solved since it impacts the whole community, and he goes on and says that the United Nations is sending experts to advise the people in charge of solving this problem. He makes a remark that even garbage in Lebanon is fought about by different sects. Moreover, I wanted to ask him what his thoughts and opinion is about the Syrian refugees and the Palestinian refugees clashing in the refugee camps, and if this would lead to any complications. Finally, a recommendation I would make in the light of discussion as to be further explored in the future is the topic about Syrian refugees affecting the Lebanese unemployment rates.

UN resident coordinator in Lebanon Phillipe Lazzarini’s presentation was intersting as he talked about his personal experiences abroad and now in Lebanon. He shed light on the history of the UN in the middle east and why it came to Lebanon. He said that there is conflict constantly all around us and the best way to solve it is through peaceful means and dialogue. He stressed on the fact that Lebanon is the only country in the Arab world where people from different religious backgrounds and ethnicities co-exist and it is a kind of safe haven. He believes that the UN is  playing a big role in preserving this state of “peacefulness”. Mr Lazzarini also talked about the Sustainable Development Goals and how much has been achieved til now and said that gender equality has not been achieved and was blind-sided in the process of achieving other goals. When asked about the garbage crisis, the speaker answered by saying that it sad that a country like Lebanon that produces great talents has a disgusting crisis like this, and a lot should be done with respect to this problem, but the tolerance of the people is applaudable. I would have asked about the shortage in the budget of the newly launched Lebanon Crisis Response Plan and how they plan to overcome it. I would like if the speaker went more into detail about what he talked, since the topics he discussed were very general and known.

The meeting with Mr. Philippe Lazzarini was interesting and informative though it was more historical rather than highly comparative. Mr. Lazzarini offered a chronological overview of the work of the UN in Lebanon starting in 1948 until now and stressed on the unique relation between these two actors. He actually described Lebanon as a safe haven among the counties of the Middle East region that attracted such an agency to flourish within. In addition, he explained that the role of the UN exceeds security issues and includes all aspects of humanity: human rights, environment, health, education, terrorism… to reach an ultimate goal were all humans live equally. This goal is known as the SDG: Sustainable Development Goal. A key fact offered was that Lebanon has almost the highest number of UN servants/capita which implied a comparative aspect in relation to other countries. Also, when asked what is a very special aspect that distinguishes the UN in Lebanon (when compared to other countries), Mr. Lazzarini answered that Lebanon is the only country that crosses his mind that has all agencies and programs offered by the UN functioning in it starting with UNDP until reaching peace-keeping forces though there’s no war. So Lebanon is benefiting from each and every program that the UN offers on several levels and in several fields- which is comparatively special. Moreover, an interesting question was aboutthe trash crisis in Lebanon and why the UN didn’t act to solve it. The answer was simply that the UN cannot intervene unless asked to. So the UN is offering expertise and advisors when asked but the government didn’t ask yet for real help to implement solutions. Accordingly, the UN cannot take decisions on its own though, as Mr. Lazzarini insisted, they have all the means and resources and are willing to help even local actors to re-establish a clean picture of Lebanon and maintain its image and position in the international community that regards Lebanon as mainly a garbage crisis. Overall, the discussion was interesting and informative. Yet, it could have included more comparative discussions since this is our focus in this class. Topics might have included comparing actions taken by UN agencies concerning the same issue but in different countries or comparing the ease of work on several issues in the same country (which domains are easier/harder).

Having Mr. Lazzarini as our guest speaker for the Comparative Political Systems course was not only an honor but a great privilege. He is the UN resident coordinator in Lebanon and has extensive experience in humanitarian assistance and international coordination in conflict and post conflict areas at senior levels. During the discussion, it was obvious that Mr. Lazzarini not only has a thorough understanding and knowledge on the subject but a stern passion. He introduced the idea of the Sustainable Development Goal and explained that it is a program that aims to eradicate poverty and secure the resources for the coming generations. He stressed on the role that the youth can play in this agenda. He referred to the UN as a “multilateral instrument that promotes peace and security” Also, he talked about how the UN contributed to the resolution of 180 different conflicts. However, that does not mean that all the conflicts are resolved. He also spoke about how Lebanon is in dire need of th UN and the peacekeepers. Driven by the UN charter, Mr. Lazzarini maintains that “every person should enjoy the same freedoms, rights and aspirations.” He also stressed on the importance of uniting the agencies regarding the Syrian Refugee Crisis and to make sure that they function properly. In his opinion, Lebanon should be on the top of the international agenda list due to its plurality in diversity among other countries in the Middle East. Mr. Lazzarini was more than competent in answering the questions of the students and created and engaging and enlightening atmosphere that made it hard not to be involved in the discussion. Overall, it was a very interesting and informative experience.


Mr. Philippe Lazzarini is currently the resident coordinator of the UN at Lebanon. He came to Lebanon in July 2015. Lazzarini pointed out the different ways the UN can and has helped Lebanon throughout the years. He said, that the UN’s role first began, 60years ago, with the Palestinians that took Lebanon as refuge. He also emphasized how important is the international community that has been established by the United Nations in Beirut and all other cities of Lebanon. With hope that security would be established in Lebanon, he says “I do believe that the UN plays a critical role to keep testability of the country.” Trying to describe Lebanon’s situation he gave this example “it’s like a man hanging on the 10th floor of the building and wondering when this man will fall.” After a few questions in class, Lazzarini pointed out that the “Garbage Crisis “should concern everyone. Quoting his words, “This country has the capacity to show the most sophisticated things. Lebanon is a country which produces number of incredible talents.” Also, he encouraged the students to apply for internships at the UNDP, to gain an experience. However, to evaluate his talk, Lazzarini did mention some of the works that the UN did throughout the years, but he failed to mention the success rate of these works. He spoke fluently, although his mother language isn’t English.

As a guest speaker in class, we had the pleasure to have Mr. Philippe Lazzarini to give us a lecture about the role of the United Nation in and for Lebanon. Mr. Lazzarini served as a resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Somalia in 2013, as well as served more than 10 years in the International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Amman, Beirut, Gaza and Sudan, and held high positions in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq, Angola, and Somalia. Today, he is Deputy UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon and Resident Representative of the UNDP in Lebanon. During the lecture, Mr. Lazzarini discussed with us the objective of the United Nations as a whole ; its history, mission and in what cases it should interfere. What was really interesting for me in the discussion is knowing the role of the UN in Lebanon particularly and how it was participating in providing security and peace in this country. Thus he believes that the UN is playing a major part in maintaining security despite Lebanon’s present situation. One of the students present in class asked about the role of the United Nations in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, which was very helpful. If I had got the chance to ask a question, it would be to know what is their aim and what they are looking for when recruiting freshly graduate students whether for internships or jobs. In light of the discussion, it would be interesting for us, Political science / International affairs students, to know what are the different other sections of the UN that are more politically related and might be useful for future references.

Phillipe lazzarini was a pleasure to have, and his expertise in the field work of UN allowed the class to learn about the structure and values of the UN. I really liked the description he gave of Lebanon in which he said it is an “extraordinary mosaic of a community.” He also went on to discuss the immense pressure on Lebanon as a whole with regards to the refugee crisis. Another point that I found interesting, is the fact that the UN has been in Lebanon for seventy years! Lazzarini also explained the requirements necessary for failed states, such as institutions and security. It was said that the UN plays a vital role in the support system of Lebanon as a state… Providing education, peace keeping, security and human rights. Overall I enjoyed the discussion thoroughly and I also felt like he motivated many students to attain such a position in the nearby future. At the end of the talk I asked him a question about his field experience in occupied Palestine as a representative of the UN.


On Tuesday, February 23rd, The Institute of Social Justice and Conflict Resolution at the Lebanese American University had the privilege of hosting Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, UN Resident Coordinator in Lebanon, as a guest lecturer. Lazzarini discussed what the United Nations’ is all about, what it promotes, his role as Resident Coordinator, and emphasized the role it plays in confronting refugee crisis. According to him, the UN is an instrument promoting peace and security. He believes that where there’s absence of security, there’s absence of development, law and eduation… He tackled current problems residing in Lebanon, such as the trash crisis, sectarian issues and refugees’ predicament, and discussed how we can work together with UN assistants help resolve these difficulties. The main objective of the UN is providing for each person in this world the same rights, freedom, justice. Lazzarini also discussed his current works on Gender and youth policies in Lebanon and assured that the relationship between UN and Lebanon is a long lasting relationship. He voiced his admiration for Lebanon being known as resilient and diverse, amongst other positive aspects. The discourse ended with a questions and answers session with audience interacting with speakers on issues related to extend to which the UN work can take over government deficiencies and inactions regarding vital national issues, including the environment, human and refugee right. In my opinion, the most interesting subject of the discussion was my question regarding the Syrian refugee crisis because it is an issue that can be debated for a long period of time. Also the question concerning the trash crisis attracted me. Despite the fact that only three or four questions were tackled, there were many questions that I wanted to ask. Some of them are the following: “Do you see any future intentions from the international community to stabilize the Syrian refugees in Lebanon?” and “ What do you think about the strict regulations put by the government on the Lebanese borders to stop the flow of refugees?”. Finally, the seminar was very helpful and interesting and gave me a lot of information about the UN that I didn’t know before.

On Tuesday, February 23, 2016. We, the class of Comparative political systems, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Phillipe Lazzarini, the UN special coordinator. He made sure to tell us how the United Nations in Lebanon is indeed making a difference in the world generally, and in Lebanon specifically. He supports youth, and made it clear that the future is in their hands. Throughout 70 years of UN in Lebanon almost 180 conflicts were solved, said Mr Lazzarini. The discussion was very interesting overall, for the guest added more to our information as Political Science/International Affairs students with the United Nations being one of the International organizations that hires international affairs students. Questions were generally helpful, such as the question about garbage situation in Lebanon. Had I been given the chance to ask a question I would have asked, what would Polisci students do in collaboration with the United Nations in Lebanon in order to make a difference where we live? I would recommend getting Mr. Lazzarini to talk a lot more about the UN, peacemaking and conflict resolution.

Philippe Lazzarini is the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon. When he visited us in Comparative Politics class he clarified the role of the UN and from what he said I learned that UN has two messages to spreading Lebanon: First message is to assure presence of UN in Lebanon and second message is that UN’s main purpose in Lebanon is to make a change and difference. UN for some people is a big black box and for others the UN is the beast. He said that UN in Lebanon is all about negotiation dialogue such as spreading peace and providing security and this is considered as the UN’s primary objective. After all,UN has been always known as a negotiation organization. There is nothing better international community has invented when it comes to having such instrument and here he means The UN. UN has contributed to resolve about 180 conflicts and we need it because we need an instrument to resolve our differences, conflicts through negotiation and dialogue. This is what UN is all about; it is an instrument promoting peace and security. Primary objective behind UN is to provide security because we do believe that absence of security means that there will be no development in the country and no rule of law and proper education. He also said that UN has placed critical role to support stability of the country because it has instruments to support government and to support the Lebanese and to tackle at the same time issues related to security, human right instrument, development instrument, education instrument and other instruments to help the country. I learned something very important which is that UN is not only engaged in peace and security and conflict resolution, but the charter of UN gives empowerment to be involved in any aspect impacting humanity such as human rights, gender to terrorism, food security and many more issues. Every person in this world should be enjoying same rights, same freedom of expression, and same excess to justice. I was interested by what he said about Somalia being a complete fail state and the main focus to turn it into a real state and to keep it fragile was about providing security and by providing security setting up full institutions and then we have rule of law and under rule of law we have instruments related to human right and social justice and once all of this is built we can talk about a proper development of this country. I was interested by the question one of the students asked about the Syrian crisis impacting Lebanon Where many refugees now live in our country and here Lazzarini answered by saying that we can talkhours about this and that it is noted that Jordan and Lebanon have the highest number of refugees. After 2 years of the crisis they started to wake up where the crisis has been addressed as Syrian crisis impacting Lebanon so the focus started to shift where it’s not only the Syrian but it’s also the enforced communities and he said that 80% of refugees are located in the most empower age municipalities in the country. There are some municipalities where there is higher number of Syrians than Lebanese population. He said that any politician he was meeting in Lebanon was in denial of refugee presence where they know they are here but they are just in denial. Whenever a politician heard of the concept safe haven they say we have to push it and return the country to the way it was before. He said that they keep telling politicians there is no safe haven which is safe because to have a safe haven we need accountability and people who are committed to provide civil protection. So he said there will be no safe haven and political solution might take some time till people can return safely.

My question for him would be: The U.N. has been calling for Presidential Elections ‘as Soon as Possible ‘without External Interference and the lack of president in Lebanon is due to serious cultural and political differences among the Lebanese, but currently Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria and its dominant status as a military force outside the purview of the Lebanese armed forces were the stumbling blocks of the presidential elections. My question here is the presidential vacuum entirely the responsibility of Assad? Or is it because the Lebanese are a divided society?

Last but not least, Lebanon should make a collective contribution to achieve all goals the UN seeks to achieve in this country and the government should play the biggest role in helping to prosper this country and to trespass all the problems and the economic crisis it is facing nowadays.

Mr. Phillippe Lazzarini’s discussion on the work of UN organizations in Lebanon was very informative and beneficial to me. Mr. Lazzarini introduced the UN as a multilateral instrument to resolve international differences and conflicts through a peaceful manner. The speaker made me aware that the UN presence in Lebanon is due to the climate of freedom and liberty that Lebanon has, compared to other countries in the region. His reflection on the Sustainable Development Goals was particularly interesting to me. I found the questions on the Syrian refugees to be very helpful, and I would’ve liked to ask him about the political implications of having such a large number of UN officials present in the country. Finally, I would like to further explore UN work in cultural and educational fields. 

In the previous discussion with Mr. Lazzarini the past week was a beneficial and productive in general. The speaker, Mr. Lazzarini made us acknowledge the work and the effort of the UN globally and in Lebanon in a specific case, even though we may not feel it nor see it, Mr. Lazzarini made us realize what the UN is doing. How the UN helped Lebanon during the independence period to during the Lebanese civil war leading to the Syrian refugee crises Lebanon is going through in the meanwhile. In terms of what new lessons I acquired. I basically learned nothing new about what Mr. Lazzarini informed us. However he enhanced of my understanding in some issues that he addressed. What I found interesting in this discussion is how the united Nation believes in the role of the Youth in the Lebanese political structure. I believe if the Lebanese elders implied this, Lebanon will move forward rather than doing back. The questions held by the students were some good questions that actually raises all different issues Lebanese government and people have to face. Therefore they were all good questions. Question that I would have asked is that since Mr. Lazzarini, as a representative of the UN, they believethat the participation of the Youth in politics of their country and government can really improve Lebanon; would it be possible to make the United Nations a Youth Lead organization? Many youth proved that they could really lead, why we don’t then try this on a bigger scale. As for the recommendations, I have nothing to recommend. It was a good discussion all in all.

Mr. Lazzarini talked about the UN performance as a multilateral negotiator body in different countries focusing more on Lebanon. UN main cause is to promote peace and security all around the world. It was the main advocate to resolve 180 different conflict in the world for the past 70 years. The UN is focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals as a compliance to its previous stated aim. Moreover, he believes that a country cannot be developed unless having rule of law and a proper education. He shared his personal experience in Somalia where the UN tried to turn it from a state of ash to a steady state focusing on institutions. Moving to Lebanon, he stated that “UN is in Lebanon for the Lebanese.” However, he added that he doesn’t believe that the UN in lebanon is making a difference. A sense of sorry was felt when he mentioned that in every sector their is at least one successful Lebanese all around the world except in there hometown! Many question were asked dealing with current issues like the garbage crisis and the Syrian refugees crises. He was able to answer in a very positive view that these crisis will hopefully finish in favor of the citizens. 

The session was really entertaining and beneficial. Mr. Lazzarini talked about important aspects regarding the UN’s work in Lebanon. In his opinion the presence of the United Nations in Lebanon is making a difference to the Lebanese citizen and contributing in building a better future for them through the present agencies and peacekeepers. A topic Mr.lazzarini talked about that grabbed my attention was the reason behind the presence of the UN in Lebanon; which was due to the Lebanese/Israeli ongoing conflict. Moreover, getting to know more about the sustainable development goals opened my eyes on many issues. The way Mr.lazzarini referred to Lebanon as a haven to the middle eastern countries due to the freedom of speech, gives hope that one day it will be a haven again to those countries. Furthermore I deeply agree that without safety nothing will be better and the absence of a president is greatly affecting the entire country in a way or another. Some of the questions that I wanted to ask are: • Do you consider the UN the only source of hope for the poor? • Will recruiting young minds like ours be a helping hand in many of the issues that the UN faces? We can’t deny the importance of the UN here in Lebanon ,and that is why it was a nice lecture.

Entertaining a speaker from the United Nation is very beneficial for us since most of us aim to work with them later in the future and thus we gain information to the work they are accomplishing. Mr. Lazzarini gave us an insight on the UN’s work and agencies in Lebanon. Moreover, he talked about the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and how we can cooperate in making them happen. Personally I was delighted with the talk. I left feeling somehow optimistic about Lebanon. The way Mr. Lazzarini referred to Lebanon as a haven to all the other countries in the Middle East was inspiring. He also talked about safety and how development and implementation of law can never occur without safely. The UN has set a standard for human rights,food security, environment, gender equality and many more . The UN’s aspirational objective is that every person should be able to enjoy equality. UN has been in Lebanon for more than 60 years. I enjoyed that Mr. Lazzarini toke into consideration the way Lebanon has been collaborating with the refugees over the years and “defying gravity” . Some of the questions that were asked and in my opinion where cry important are : * Why did the UNDP back out from the garbage crisis? * Will there ever be a clash of civilization like Huntington said ? One of the questions that I wanted to know more about would be: * Knowing that the millennium development goals had a very short time to be accomplished in, aren’t the UN scared the same thing would happen to the SDGs? Don’t they think 15 years is a short period of time? Lastly Mr. Lazzarini made sure that Lebanon should be high on the agenda of the UN.

Mr. Lazarinni who was our guest speaker on Tuesday who is the head of the United Nations in lebanon talked about the importance of the UN in Lebanon and especially what is his role in particular. He believes that making a difference in Lebanon in the future is in the hands of the youth. He talked about the SDG which is the sustainable development goal agenda that aims to eradicate poverty and secure resources for the coming generation. He stressed the importance of the UN in Lebanon and MR.lazarinni highlighted that the operation of the United Nations is very necessary to keep peace and stability. His role in particular is to bring all the United Nations agencies together and make sure they function properly. He reminded everybody that it is because of the Palestinian war in Lebanon that triggered the united nations to be established in 1948 and there were more than 10,000 peacekeepers. He was a very charismatic speaker and made everything clear in a very brief and easy way.