Lebanon has acceded to six of the seven United Nations conventions on human rights, namely: the Two Covenants on Civil and Political Rights; on Economic, social and Cultural Rights (1972), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1971), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1997), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (2000), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1991). It has also acceded to the two optional protocols attached to the Rights of the Child convention pertaining to involvement of children in armed conflicts and the sale of children and exploiting them in prostitution and pornographic materials (2001).
Lebanon has also acceded to seven of the eight International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions concerned with human rights, namely: convention (98) on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining (1977), the two conventions (29 and 105) pertaining to Elimination of Forced or Compulsory Labour (1977); the two conventions (100 and 111) on the prevention of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation (1977); and the two conventions (138 and 182) concerning the prevention of employing children and minors (2003 and 2001 respectively).
Lebanon made reservations on certain provisions of the conventions it acceded to:
- The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: article (22) pertaining to ways of resolving disputes over interpreting or implementing the convention. Lebanon believes that any dispute it is a part to requires the approval of all parties to the dispute on resorting to the International Court of Justice.
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: article (9/2) that guarantees equal rights for men and women with regard to their children's citizenship. Article (16/1) that commits states to apply proper measures to eliminate discrimination against women in marriage and family relations; Lebanon made a reservation on the right to choose the family name (the surname). Article (29/1) concerning ways of resolving disputes among state parties over interpreting or implementing the convention.
Lebanon has agreed to the "Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam" issued in 1990 by foreign ministers of Muslim countries. The declaration is a guiding document that does not require ratification. Lebanon also acceded to the "Arab Charter of Human Rights/Amended" prepared by the Arab Summit in Tunisia in May 2004. Lebanon did not ratify the charter just like most Arab countries.
Human Rights Institutions
There are several types of human rights institutions in Lebanon, some institutions are governmental, some are parliamentarian and some are non-governmental. An example of governmental institutions is the National Committee for the Affairs of Lebanese Women that was established in 1995 in accordance with the resolutions of the Fourth International Women's Conference held in Pejing. At the parliamentary level a human rights committee was formed with the aim of protecting human rights and guaranteeing public and private freedoms, especially the exercise of these freedoms. The committee also works on legal texts that affect equality among Lebanese men and women, and on creating harmony between Lebanese laws and regulations on one side, and international human rights conventions and charters on the other. Lebanon also has many NGOs active in the field of human rights, such as: "The Lebanese Human Rights Association" (1985); "The Civil Society for Pursuing Women's Affairs" (1993); "The Lebanese Union for Child Care" (1949); "The National Association for Rights of the Disabled" (1988); and "Peoples Rights Movement" (1989) concerned with the freedom of associations and civil action. Also, The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (1996) concerned with observing elections. Some NGOs, are interested in the condition of Palestinian refugees and camps in Lebanon, such as "The Palestinian Organization for Human Rights/Rights" (1997) and "The Palestinian Organization for Human Rights/Witness".
Achievements on the Road to Good Governance
1. In an effort to advance women's rights, a national authority for advancing Lebanese women's affairs and another authority for combating violence against women were established. Moreover, a legal amendment was introduced in 1996 that removed the pardoning alibi of honour crimes. Another Amendment was introduced in 1998 making elementary education mandatory and free of charge. Illiteracy rate among females was reduced, and female school enrolment increased. Women held ministerial positions for the first time in Lebanon's history in prime minister Karami's government on October 26, 2004. On November 10, 2004 the first Lebanese woman occupied the position of public prosecutor. Women doubled their parliament membership from 3 to 7 deputies in 2005 elections. Women constitute 4.7% of Lebanon's parliament members.
2. Lebanon succeeded in holding legislative elections in due time despite the harsh circumstances it was facing. The elections were observed by national and international teams. The European mission concluded that the elections were well organized, but their legal framework needed comprehensive reform. International observers detected vote purchasing incidents.
3. The 2005 elections carried 61 new deputies to the parliament that consists of 128 deputies. Prominent political leaders lost their parliamentary seats, and the opposition controlled 72 seats or an absolute majority that enabled them (Hariri Block) to form the government.
4. On June 27, 2005 the minister of labour issued a decision that allows Palestinian refugees born in Lebanon and registered at the ministry of interior to work in most of the 73 occupations previously barred to them. The decision does not include the professions such as medicine, law and engineering that are confined to Lebanese citizens.
5. The Lebanese government abolished on August 8, 2005 Decision No. 60/1993 that required apriori approval by the council of ministers for establishing a new civil society.
6. Withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon in response to UN Security Council 1559/2005, following a wave of hatred against Syria launched by Lebanese and international parties accusing Syria of assassinating prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The presence of Syrian force was a source of bitter dispute among Lebanese political groups.
7. The Lebanese Army was deployed in South Lebanon, for a the first time in decades, in the context of implementing UN Security Council resolution 1701, and as a means of establishing government sovereignty over all Lebanese territories. The army was deployed peacefully in context of political agreement among the concerned parties.