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Lebanon[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005


Summary and Analysis


Lebanon ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in May of 1991 with no reservations. The Convention does not carry the force of law in Lebanon.


There is little information available regarding Lebanon's implementation of Article 12 of the CRC with respect to the child's right to be heard in child protective proceedings, or regarding child protective proceedings generally. Children are not regarded as citizens with rights that enable them to enjoy legal and social competence. The age of majority is eighteen, and a minor is considered capable of discretion at fifteen years.[2] The general custom of corporal punishment as a form of disciplining children is accepted under the Penal Code.


The Parliamentary Committee on the Rights of the Child, formed in 1991, was created to draft and amend legislation in order to implement the CRC. The Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for welfare services for children in need of assistance, ensuring their rights to live in a stable family environment.[3] Despite the work of these formal structures, the child is not integrated into all legislation, as the CRC recommends. For example, there is no separate legislation apart from the Penal Code that protects children from sexual assault, and security forces investigate complaints of sexual assault on children. Representatives from the Society of the Protection of Juveniles make regular checks on the child. Protection measures are aimed at keeping the child as close as possible to his or her family environment, and if a child's guardian is deemed inappropriate, the child is taken to a blood relative or family member. A large number of children are placed in institutions that are not subject to monitoring, as they are run by non-governmental organizations and are contracted out by the Ministry of Social Affairs.[4]


Lebanon's legal system includes both a national civil jurisdiction for certain matters of personal status for the non-Muslim population, and special tribunals for each of Lebanon's religious communities. Different codes under each of the fifteen religious jurisdictions regulate most matters of personal status, including the status of children and the protection of their fundamental rights. Traditional relationships, notably a division between public and private areas of life, are essential to the Lebanese social and political structure. Respect for the views of the child also remain limited in civil courts, administrative decisions, and especially within the family, due to social norms. Religious and confessional authorities reflect prevailing social values and preserve the special inviolability of the family. It is therefore more difficult to adapt legislation to this area of the law.


Costs of the War


The current political system, which institutionalizes sectarian divisions in the government, was established in 1991, at the end of a devastating fifteen-year civil war. Children were particularly affected by the human losses of the war, the social disintegration, the poverty and displacement, and a fear of the unknown. Political instability prevented many incidences of child sexual assault from being brought into the open. In 1994, The Ministry of Justice reported twenty times more cases of child rape than in 1991, and found incest to be the most common type of assault.[5] In the years following the war, hundreds of abandoned children begged, stole, and worked illegally in the streets. The rights of Palestinian children in Lebanon are another issue, which is complicated by their uncertain legal status and lack of access to civil and social rights. The near-total destruction of the infrastructure during the conflict, as well as political and economic instabilities, constitutes a substantial obstacle to the implementation of the CRC.


Despite our efforts, we were unable to locate a contact person for Lebanon.


Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)


Original Text (Arabic)




Article 7


كل اللبنانيين سواء لدى القانون وهم يتمتعون بالسواء بالحقوق المدنية والسياسية ويتحملون الفرائض والواجبات العامة دون ما فرق بينهم·


Article 9


حرية الاعتقاد مطلقة والدولة بتأديتها فروض الإِجلال للَّه تعالى تحترم جميع الأديان والمذاهب وتكفل حرية إقامة الشعائر الدينية تحت حمايتها على أن لا يكون في ذلك اخلال في النظام العام وهي تضمن أيضاً للأهلين على اختلاف مللهم احترام نظام الأحوال الشخصية والمصالح الدينية·


Article 13


حرية إبداء الرأي قولاً وكتابة وحرية الطباعة وحرية الاجتماع وحرية تأليف الجمعيات كلها مكفولة ضمن دائرة القانون


Translation (French)




Article 7


Tous les libanaise sont égaux devant la loi. Ils jouissent également des droits civils et politiques et sont également assujettis aux charges et devoirs publics, sans distinction aucune.


Article 9


La liberté de conscience est absolue. En rendant hommage au Très-Haut, l'Etat respecte toutes les confessions et en garantit et protège le libre exercice à condition qu'il ne soit pas porté atteinte à l'ordre public. Il garantit également aux populations, à quelque rite qu'elles appartiennent, le respect de leur statut personnel et de leurs intérêts religieux.

N.B .A notre avis la traduction aurait du être comme suit : ‘' … l'Etat respecte toutes les religions et confessions et garantit sous sa protection le libre exercice des cultes religieux à condition… ‘'


Article 13


La liberté d'exprimer sa pensée par la parole ou par la plume, la liberté de la presse, la liberté de réunion et la liberté d'association, sont garanties dans les limites fixées par la loi.


Translation (English)




Article 7


[Equality] All Lebanese are equal before the law. They equally enjoy civil and political rights and equally are bound by public obligations and duties without any distinction.


Article 9


[Conscience, Belief] There shall be absolute freedom of conscience. The state in rendering homage to the Most High shall respect all religions and creeds and guarantees, under its protection, the free exercise of all religious rites provided that public order is not disturbed. It also guarantees that the personal status and religious interests of the population, to whatever religious sect they belong, is respected.


Article 13


[Expression, Press, Assembly, Association] The freedom to express one's opinion orally or in writing, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom of association are guaranteed within the limits established by law.




Penal Code No. 224 of 1993[9]


Article 186

The law permits: The types of discipline inflicted on children by their parents and teachers as sanctioned by general custom.


Additional Resources and Links


Assemblée Nationale Libanaise [Lebanese Parliament].  http://www.lp.gov.lb/Version%20Francaise/Page_Francaise.html (last visited Nov. 23, 2005).


Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law. School of Oriental and African Studies. http://www.soas.ac.uk/Centres/IslamicLaw/Country_Index.html#Lebanon (last visited Nov. 23, 2005).


Family Law Survey. Islamic Family Law Project. Emory Law School. http://www.law.emory.edu/IFL/legal/lebanon.htm (last visited Nov. 23, 2005).


JURIST: The Legal Education Network. University of Pittsburgh School of Law. http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/world/lebanon.htm (last visited Nov. 23, 2005).


Legal Information Institute. Cornell Law School. http://straylight.law.cornell.edu/world/mideast.html (last visited Nov. 23, 2005).


Tahir Mahmood, Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries: History, Texts and Analysis (India and Islam Research Council, 2d rev. ed. 1995) (1987).


Chibli Mallat, The Lebanese Legal System, 2 The Leb. Rep. (1997), available at http://www.mallat.com/articles/lb_legal_system_page_1.htm.


U.S. Department of State, Lebanon Human Rights Practices, 1994 (Feb. 1995), available at http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/300/340/341/human-rights-leb-95.txt.



[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Second periodic reports of States parties due in 1998: Lebanon, U.N. Doc CRC/C/70/Add.8 (December 4, 1998), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Al-dasturi al-lubnani [Constitution] (Leb.), available at http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.gov.lb/ar/arabic/constitution.htm.

[7] La Constitution Libanaise (Leb.), available at http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.gov.lb/fr/constitution.htm (All French translations of the Constitution are official translations from the website of the Constitutional Council of the Lebanon).

[8] Constitution (Leb.) (All English translations of the Constitution are unofficial translations by Roger Makhlouf).

[9] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Initial reports of States parties due in 1993: Lebanon, U.N. Doc CRC/C/8/Add.23 (February 3, 1995), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.


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