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Lebanon's Second UPR: Acknowledging Women's Rights Violations

27 November 2015

On November 2nd, the government of Lebanon was reviewed for the second time during the 23rd session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on its implementation of human rights obligations. WILPF and its partner organisation from Lebanon, ABAAD, participated in the UPR pre-session to make UN Member States aware of women’s concerns in Lebanon. Read our blog “Lebanon UPR pre-session: WILPF and ABAAD present to advocate for women’s rights” to learn about our advocacy on this topic!

Progress made since the first review in 2009

The start of the review was marked by the special circumstances invoked by the Lebanese government, linked to the Syrian crisis and the massive influx of Syrian refugees, to justify impediments to its human rights commitments. The present political situation and instability were also raised as factors of delay in the promulgation of laws and reforms.

Nonetheless, positive achievements were noted: the adoption of laws on human trafficking and on the protection of women and members of their families from domestic violence, the creation of a human rights directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of a national human rights institution.

Despite these efforts, UN Member States pinpointed many shortcomings during the interactive dialogue with the Lebanese government. Repeated recommendations were made in the following top areas: women’s rights/violence against women, treatment of refugees, migrant workers’ rights and in particular Palestinian refugees’ right to work and the persistent use of torture in Lebanon.

Women’s concerns heard by recommending States

Many States who contributed to the dialogue expressly called on the Lebanese government to intensify its efforts to strengthen women’s rights and gender equality provisions in line with the messages advocated for by WILPF and ABAAD. Indeed, 16 States recommended Lebanon to withdraw its reservations to the CEDAW Convention. Linked with this issue, several States also recommended Lebanon to amend its nationality laws in order to enable women to pass on their nationality to their husbands and children.

Credits: Flickr/Joelle Hatem. On February 24, 2013, several hundred women marched on the streets of Beirut to call on the Lebanese parliament to pass the Law to Protect Women from domestic violence.

Some States also requested Lebanon to amend its personal status laws that are discriminatory against women and to consider enacting in consultation with civil society organisations an optional civil code that would be in line with international human rights law. Despite the adoption of a law on domestic violence in 2014, several States called on Lebanon to take effective implementation steps and to amend the law in order to criminalise marital rape.

Despite our advocacy on this matter, no State recommended Lebanon to develop a national action plan to implement Resolution 1325. Only Mexico, Italy and Spain urged Lebanon to take measures to enhance Lebanese women’s participation in public and political life. There were also recommendations aiming at ensuring adapted response, including healthcare, to the specific needs of refugee women and girls.

What about accountability?

The overall contributions of recommending States during the dialogue are rather positive and seem to have acknowledged Lebanese women’s concerns in line with the issues advocated for by WILPF and ABAAD. However, action must continue to monitor which recommendations the Lebanese government will actually commit to implement. It is hence critical at this stage that civil society in Lebanon continues to exert pressure on the Government to commit to these recommendations. WILPF will also continue to monitor, with its partner ABAAD, the acceptance and implementation of UPR recommendations by the Lebanese government to ensure accountability.

If you wish to learn more about this process, you may watch the UPR session of Lebanon that took place on 2nd November on the following link.




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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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