In 2002 the Lebanese government passed landmark legislation to create the country’s first state-led, child protection (CP) system. This was a controversial step in a country where the nation’s diverse religious traditions and court systems have traditionally governed family affairs. Despite significant strides the country has faced challenges operationalising a consistent and locally responsive CP mechanism. Chief among these difficulties has been ensuring coordination between the CP system and the wide range of international/ local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), ethnic- and sectarian-based political movements and religious welfare organisations that support vulnerable families in Lebanese communities.
Dr Thomas El-Hoss, in this case study, examines the Lebanese government’s development and roll-out of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), which sought to unify all state and non-state actors around a common framework for identifying and addressing risk and making correct referrals to the CP system. The SOP was created via a relatively innovative process of civil society participation and could serve as an example for other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) facing difficulties integrating their CP systems with complex networks of non-governmental social welfare. However, this case study will also explore the barriers the Lebanese government has encountered to rolling-out the SOP and the need for far greater community voice and meaningful inclusion of families in shaping Lebanon’s CP system and the emotional and material support made available to them.