“Franco-Lebanese cooperation in the service of the municipal police”

Engaged in Lebanon since 2017, the EUROMED city network intervenes in support of the action of Lebanese local authorities as part of their role and function of municipal police. This continuous and supportive support makes it possible to better respond to the current challenges of a country and partner where tensions of various kinds are expressed.

With a population of around 6 million, Lebanon is a country characterized by a large number of refugees, mostly Syrians, who make up nearly a third of the population. This is a sizeable challenge when we consider the challenge presented by the Lebanese municipalities and federations of municipalities [1] by the need to meet the immense needs of all in terms of public services.

In order to prevent the consequences of significant demographic changes, some Lebanese local elected representatives have come together in a Committee of Lebanese Mayors (CML), which makes it possible to give visibility to their needs and to integrate cooperation projects for the strengthening of capacity of their municipal services, and in particular of the municipal police.

Thus, several training projects for municipal officials have been set up on themes such as the reception of refugees or the prevention of security problems and social conflicts. In this sense, the EUROMED network of cities is committed with the Sud Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Region, the City of Nice, the Committee of Lebanese Mayors and United Cities Lebanon / Technical Office of Lebanese Cities to ensure the implementation and the smooth running of two projects: the “Cooperation project for the strengthening of municipalities in Lebanon in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis” from 2017 to 2018 and the “Support project for the structuring and organization of municipal police of Lebanese local authorities ”from 2019 to 2020. The two projects being financed within the framework of the Support Fund for Franco-Lebanese decentralized cooperation 2019-2021 of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE).

Four Lebanese communities, the municipalities of Jdeideh and Jbeil-Byblos and the federations of municipalities of Tire and Jezzine were involved in these projects. The aim is to organize, train and equip the municipal police services within each of them.

As part of the first project, the study trips enabled experts from the city of Nice to make a diagnosis – audit of the working conditions and organization of municipal police forces, then to trainers from the city of Nice. to allow Lebanese police officers to benefit from their long experience in matters of sanitation, public tranquility as well as the exercise of local missions. These exchanges fostered the awareness of local elected officials and Lebanese municipal police officers of the reality of municipal police in France, the sharing of know-how on the management of emergency situations, the methods of risk prevention and the discussion around the role of police officers.

As part of the second project, a reflection on the internal regulations of the municipal police proposed by the supervisory ministry, the Ministry of the Interior and Municipalities (MIM), was carried out. All this, with the aim of improving coordination between the two national and local levels but also in order to redefine the work of the municipal police in Lebanon and to accentuate and improve its image among the population. Tools such as a job description for the Municipal Police Commissioner in Lebanon, a brochure on the role of the municipal police for the attention of citizens and a cooperation memorandum (or cooperation protocol) have thus been drawn up (To find them , go to the website: bt-villes.org).

These methods, carefully developed in partnership, aim to consolidate a local police force trained in mediation to defuse conflict situations but also to refer populations to competent services if necessary. An aspect and skills of the municipal police which gradually integrate the daily life of the four Lebanese communities.

These projects are intended to be, during the year 2021, extended by new actions and which gives reason to reflect on the idea of ​​a strategy for strengthening the capacities of the municipal police at the macro-regional scale of the Mediterranean.

[1] The two decentralized levels that exist in Lebanon, equivalent to municipalities and groupings of municipalities in France.