Lebanon’s complex confessional make ups has led to ideological and political polarisation and fragmented alliances amongst its eighteen recognised sects. This polarisation, combined with a large Palestinian refugee population, escalated into a fourteen-year civil war beginning in 1975. In addition to internal pressures, Syria, Israel, and the PLO have fought their own wars within the country, each citing regional allegiances or national security issues. The most recent such proxy war was Israel’s attack on Hezbollah in July 2006 that displaced 900,000 Lebanese and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 people.

Deep sectarian divisions erupted again into violence in May 2008, when Hezbollah fighters, along with other armed groups, occupied, then Prime Minister, Saad Hariri’s offices and strongholds in Beirut and other Sunni majority cities. A national unity government was formed in the aftermath, but collapsed in early 2011 after the resignation of 10 Hezbollah cabinet ministers and their political allies. These events were precipitated by a long standing disagreement over a UN-backed inquiry into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, which Hezbollah feared would indict its members. A new government was finally created on June 13th, 2011 run by the Hezbollah-dominated March 8th Alliance. Tensions remain incredibly high and the on-going conflict in  Syria has only increased the risk for destabilisation once again. A coalition government was formed in 2014. However, the Lebanese parliament, which extended its term, has failed to elect a new president since May.

The conflict in Syrian has had an immensely destabilising effect on Lebanon. Sectarian clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime have erupted in Tripoli. A number of people have been killed in clashes between Hezbollah gunmen and Syrian rebels within Lebanon, and Hezbollah strongholds have been bombed. Elections due in June 2013 are put off until November 2014 because of security concerns over the conflict in Syria.

Conflict profile

Explore our guide to the conflict in Lebanon. Includes a general overview, timeline, guide to key people and resources. Read more »

Stories from Lebanon

Peacebuilding organisations in Lebanon

Below are listed peacebuilding and conflict resolution organisations active in Lebanon. Just click on a group’s name for further information.