Lebanon

A region overwhelmed by violence and conflicts* Moreover, the realities of women in the Arab region are influenced, directly or indirectly, by the recurrence of conflicts, including state crisis, wars, occupation, and the onslaught of religious fundamentalism and militarized religious extremist group. While the implications on rights and broader political, social, and economic realities differ in these circumstances, they all leave women subjected to various forms of violence and exclusions. It is not expected that the region will be free of these cycles of conflict and violence in the short term; thus the manifestation of this violence will inevitably continue shaping the lives of women and men living in the region.

Photo: UNHCR/S. Malkawi

Several challenges hinder the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development in Lebanon. During the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in September 2014 Lebanese President Tammam Salam identified the humanitarian issues caused by the Syrian refugee crisis as one of the greatest challenges to development. It is indeed a significant constraint; yet, one should note that Lebanon was facing a political and socio-economic crisis reflected by a high rate of unemployment and marginalized people, even before the Syrian crisis and the flood of refugees. Therefore, it is worth highlighting that the Syrian war shed light on the structural and systemic problems of Lebanon and aggravated them.

To date, Lebanon does not have a national strategy for sustainable development nor a national economic plan nor a poverty reduction strategy. According to the 2014 International Parliamentary Union Secretary General’s annual report: “the Lebanese Parliament reported that the Sustainable Development Initiative was in the agenda of the Public Work Committee between 2009-2010 period. The current political instabilities, however, forced the Parliament to shift its priorities.” The same report indicates that the Parliament has not been informed of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has not taken any steps to discuss them. 

Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) held a seminar to discuss issues related to Business and Human Rights in the context of the Pilot Project for the Promotion of Social Dialogue in the Southern Mediterranean Region. 

In the context of the Pilot Project for the Promotion of Social Dialogue in the Southern Mediterranean Region (SOLiD), in partnership with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and BUSINESSMED, ANND held a two day seminar in Beirut on 7 and 8 September 2016, to discuss issues related to Business and Human Rights.

Roberto Bissio, Social Watch Coordinator, joined the workshop participating in Session 1, The privet Sector and the New Development Paradigm - A Rights Based Perspective, Financing for Development from a Rights Based Approach (see his intervention below).

Several challenges hinder the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development in Lebanon. During the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in September 2014 Lebanese President Tammam Salam identified the humanitarian issues caused by the Syrian refugee crisis as one of the greatest challenges to development. It is indeed a significant constraint; yet, one should note that Lebanon was facing a political and socio-economic crisis reflected by a high rate of unemployment and marginalized people, even before the Syrian crisis and the flood of refugees. Therefore, it is worth highlighting that the Syrian war shed light on the structural and systemic problems of Lebanon and aggravated them. To date, Lebanon does not have a national strategy for sustainable development nor a national economic plan nor a poverty reduction strategy. According to the 2014 International Parliamentary Union Secretary General’s annual report: “the Lebanese Parliament reported that the Sustainable Development Initiative was in the agenda of the Public Work Committee between 2009-2010 period. The current political instabilities, however, forced the Parliament to shift its priorities.” The same report indicates that the Parliament has not been informed of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has not taken any steps to discuss them.

This paper discusses the newly issued World Bank report on the welfare of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, based on the analysis of UNHCR data. It points some significant aspects not addressed, especially the effects Syrian pre-crisis public policies. It highlights the gap between the lack of proper socioeconomic assessment of both refugees’ and hosting communities and the fact that resilience and integration policies are already been negotiated with the Lebanese and Jordanian governments. This is while there no such efforts dealing with Egypt, Iraq and mainly Turkey, who are receiving large numbers of refugees. In addition, the Civil Society organizations are channeling a large share of the humanitarian aid, while they have, as well as the Syrian refugees’ and hosting communities, no proper voice in the debate.

Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) releases the Mutual Accountability Manual on the roles of Different Stakeholders in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This guide provides assisting tools for the civil society to play its role within the framework of accountability of the parties concerned with the developmental process, from the public sector as a key partner in the development process and its basic point of reference in the context of policy-making and ensuring the proper implementation and protection of the rights of the citizens, to the private sector as a partner who is supposed to adhere to international standards of human rights, and the donors who are committed to providing the necessary resources for the implementation of the development process and achieving the goals of civil society.

Freedom of association is an enabling right that underpins inclusive development. The social movements that have flooded the streets of the Arab Spring have the potential to democratize the state and secure democratic transition. However, what Europe calls "Southern Neighbouring" countries are recording alarming shrinking space for civil society, violations of freedom of association and peaceful assembly, coupled with restrictions of the right to access to information and challenges in mobilizing financial resources.

During the 23rd Working Group session of the Universal Periodic Review the situation of human rights in Lebanon were reviewed by the UN member states. During the interactive dialogue several member states directed recommendations to Lebanese Delegation headed by Permanent Representative of Lebanon to UN Mission in Geneva Mrs. Najla Riachi Assaker on the issues of women’s rights, torture, migrant workers, establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty.

Three and a half hour session provided the occasion for both national delegation representatives and the UN Member states to shed light on the ‘extraordinary challenges’ the country is facing, namely the Syrian crisis and the terrorism in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately as civil society groups engaged in the UPR process and working on issues of human rights and development, we believe that these challenges cannot be ‘excuses’ for non-implementation of recommendations accepted back in 2010 and in overall providing maximum available resources for ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights in the country.

The arbitrary detention of Hossam Bahgat, (the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an  independent  Egyptian  human  rights  organization  and  a  journalist at Mada Masr, an online news site), on November 9th, 2015 is a mere reflection of the crackdown on civil rights in Egypt and the grim truth about the restricted enjoyment of the ‘’freedom’’ of expression and opinion in the country, that is essentially guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution Article 651 and Article 19th of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that Egypt is party to.

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