Part II of a III part series
Palestinians march for civil rights in Beirut, Lebanon (photo:fplamb)
The United Nations Human Rights Council, along with the global community and many in Lebanon, has become increasingly concerned about the massive violations of Palestinian civil rights. As noted in Part I of this discussion, Palestinians in Lebanon suffer from more than two dozen targeted violations including ambiguous legal status, absence of protection; the outlawing of their right to work and to own a home or real property; adequate housing; health; fair trial; freedom of association; opinion and expression; freedom of movement, accommodation and travel, among others. Forbidding Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from working in all but menial jobs is a major reason UNWRA calculates that 70% are living below the poverty line.
In an effort to stop these kinds of violations, on March 15, 2006, the UN General Assembly passed GAR 60/251 thus creating the Human Rights Council (HRC) in order to "undertake a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each country of its human rights obligations and commitments."
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a significant innovation for International humanitarian law and constitutes a unique process which conducts a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. The UPR is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights in specific locations where human rights violations are widespread. That includes Lebanon.
The UPR Working Group (UPRWG) has assessed the extent to which Lebanon respects its human rights obligations under the UN Charter ; (2) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ; (3) human rights instruments to which Lebanon is party through treaty ratification or bound by International Customary Law, (4) voluntary pledges and commitments made by Lebanon (e.g. national human rights policies and/or programs implemented); and, (5) applicable international humanitarian law.
Sources for the HRC review and decisions relating to Lebanon's treatment of Palestinian refugees include:
1) Information provided by Lebanon as the State under review, known as the "National Report";
3) Information from other stakeholders including national human rights institutions and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's).
Lebanon's Universal Periodic Review was last conducted in November, 2015 during the 23rd session of the UPR Working Group and its government has the primary responsibility to implement the recommendations contained in the UPR. The Human Rights Council is mandated to hold countries accountable for progress or failure in implementing its recommendations. During the second review the State is expected to provide information on what they have been doing to implement the recommendations made during the first review as well as on any developments in the field of human rights. If necessary, the Human Rights Council can apply various sanctions to States which are not co-operating.
The record of Lebanon before the Human Rights Council with respect to Palestinian refugees has been and remains, dismal. The government of Lebanon has ignored HRC recommendations, failed to act on human rights violations toward Palestinian refugees that it pledged to remedy, has not complied with human rights conventions it has ratified, and has even failed to implement its own National Plan to redress violations towards Palestinians. The record of the Government of Lebanon makes a mockery of paragraph B of the Preamble of its Constitution pledges that "Lebanon as a founding and active member of the United Nations Organization is committed to its covenants and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
It is true that the Government of Lebanon appeared to exhibit some good will to improve the socio-economic rights of Palestinian refugees when Parliament passed an amendment to Labor Law 129 /2010, Article 59, and the Social Security law 128/2010, Article 9. However, neither of these modest amendments have to date, six years later, been implemented. Neither has even published in the council of Ministers- COM Decisions. Consequently, their application depends on the arbitrary decision of sectarianized Labor Ministers. To date none has acted to implement the modest 2010 amendments.