Resilience through Learning and Adaptation: Lebanon’s Power-Sharing System and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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  • 1 Department of Political Studies and Public Administration American University of Beirut, Lebanon

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This article conceptualizes the Lebanese sectarian power-sharing system as a resilient system. Utilizing the case of the Lebanese government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the article unpacks this notion of resilience through two mechanisms of learning and adaptation. The article contributes to the literature on power-sharing by focusing on policy-making during political deadlock and crisis. Anchored in empirical evidence, this article explains how the Lebanese government exhibited learning and adaptation by facilitating the efforts of donors, municipalities and ngos to respond to the evolving refugee crisis. In doing so, the deadlock that prevailed during that time-frame did not translate into policy inaction. While not considering that the Lebanese response was a rights-based approach to addressing the crisis, the article contends that mechanisms of learning and adaptation help reveal some form of response to this crisis. Understanding this response can help in future theorizing about the continuity of power-sharing systems.

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