Regional rivalries overshadow discussion of Human Rights in Lebanon
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 12:30


Lebanon's delegation arrived for the State's universal periodic review (UPR) on Wednesday, 11 November , 2010. During the interactive dialogue 49 States spoke, yet 20 of these were regional allies whose primary aim appeared to be to act as filibusters, while many States also took the opportunity to direct criticism and recommendations to Israel rather than Lebanon.[1] Indeed, the regional rivalry between Lebanon and Israel overshadowed much of the discussion of the former's human rights record.


Lebanon nevertheless provided information on a range of human rights issues in the country. The delegation noted that a national action plan had recently been drafted, with the wide participation of civil society. This included a plan to set up a national human rights institution (NHRI). The delegation also expressed solidarity with Palestinian refugees in the State, claiming that the government understood their plight and would never force them to repatriate. Additionally, Lebanon assured States that a bill was being drafted, with the aim of combating, and ultimately eradicating, all torture in the State. Finally, while noting that capital punishment was still legal in Lebanon, the delegation stated that in practice the death sentence was never applied.  


During the interactive dialogue, Lebanon did receive some expressions of support. States acknowledged developments in women's rights[2] and children's rights[3]. Improvements in education were recognised, for example a notable increase in the literacy rate.[4]


However, many recommendations were made. Lebanon was urged to follow through on its plan to creat an NHRI.[5] States also brought attention to failings in the area of children's rights, on issues ranging from discrimination against disabled children to child labour.[6] Recommendations to improve the liberties and living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon also featured in the review.[7] Palestine itself requested special attention be given to help Palestinian individuals without identification papers. Steps to promote women's rights were also suggested, for example granting equality in citizenship rights.[8] It was noted that Lebanon should make greater efforts to combat the widespread prevalence of torture. Israel specifically requested that Lebanon submit a report to the Committee Against Torture that has been overdue since 2001.[9] Finally, amongst Western states, it was additionally recommended that Lebanon embrace the goal of complete abolition of the death penalty.[10]


The procedure was, however, largely overshadowed by verbal disputes between the State under review and Israel. Upon taking the floor, Israel 'strongly objected' to the tone of the review, saying it 'regretted Lebanon's uncooperative approach'. When Israel attempted to direct criticism towards Hezbollah, Lebanon's delegation interrupted, calling for the deletion of these remarks from the record, adding that all violence in the region was a direct consequence of Israeli actions. Many of the NGOs present applauded these comments, despite this contradicting the behavioural norms of the UPR. It was the only time this occurred during the entire 9th session of the UPR. Israel made allegations of numerous human rights violations in Lebanon, including unlawful killings, government corruption, and torture. This pattern repeated itself throughout the review.


During the first round of questions, Lebanon claimed that instability could be ended if Israel ceased its 'aggression and occupation'. On this occasion Israel interrupted, urging Lebanon to stay on topic and requesting all such comments to be deleted from the record. Lebanon ignored these requests, thereby initiating renewed interventions from Israel. Issues also arose during Syria's recommendations, whose allocated three minutes ended up being a thinly-veiled partisan criticism of Israel. In this instance, the United States intervened out of turn to defend Israel. That the United States was permitted to intervene at this point was particularly surprising, since it was not being personally attacked and was not due to speak for another six rounds.


Amidst all this, Lebanon did provide some fruitful information. The delegation spoke of the new laws being drafted to grant equal citizenship rights to men and women. Lebanon also mentioned its intentions to withdraw its reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, but said that difficulties arose due to opposition by religious groups. On children's rights, it assured States that extra efforts were being made to help children with disabilities, such as offering extracurricular tutoring support for students. The delegation became defensive on the issue of refugees, saying Lebanon was committed to dealing with persons without identity papers in the most effective and humane way possible. Identification would be provided for those individuals who had lost theirs.


Lebanon's delegation arrived late for the adoption of the report. Altogether, 120 recommendations were made, of which 69 were accepted. Of these, however, the State considered 28 to have already been implemented. It rejected 37 proposals , and singled out Israel's three recommendations as being illegitimate on the grounds they were made by 'occupants of Lebanese territory' and 'infringed on Lebanese sovereignty'.


[1] Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia

[2] Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, and United States of America

[3] Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, and Morocco

[4] Cuba, Morocco and Sri Lanka

[5] Algeria, Greece, India, Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan

[6] Australia Bangladesh, Cote d'Ivoire, Qatar, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen

[7] Bangladesh, Brazil, Finland, Ireland Netherlands, Palestine, Sudan, Thailand, and United States of America

[8] Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and United States of America

[9] Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Slovakia, United Kingdom, and United States of America

[10] Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom


Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 14:42
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2019