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.