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What the UN Really Wants to Say About Lebanon

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Sunday 12 February 201709:41 am

The UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has released its concluding observations on Lebanon. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of eighteen independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its party states.

As a group of distinguished experts, the Committee is bound to use legal, measured, appropriate, politically palatable language. Ever wondered what all this UN language might mean? Always wanted to be cognizant of what international agencies were saying about Lebanon without getting lost in all this terminology? Fear no more, I am here to help you translate everything the Committee meant, and more.

[Disclaimer: As a body of eighteen extremely busy experts, the Committee didn’t have time to review this piece, so you know, it hasn’t been approved by any of them. This work is reflective of the interpretation of yours truly, and yours truly only]

[h3]Impact of the political situation on the enjoyment of the Covenant rights[/h3]

'The Committee is concerned that the ongoing political stalemate in the State party has delayed the adoption of critical legislative and policy measures for the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, and has severely hampered the State party’s ability to attend to emergencies such as the influx of refugees and the waste management crisis'

Translation: You guys are literally drowning in zbeleh and you're treating traumatized refugees like shit. Get. Your. Shit. Together.


14. The Committee is concerned that corruption is pervasive in the State party and results in a considerable loss of resources needed for the implementation of the Covenant. It is further concerned at the lack of transparency and effective oversight of public affairs as well as at nepotism and clientelism in politics. Moreover, while noting that judges have invoked the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in court rulings, the Committee remains concerned at delays incurred in the adoption of several draft laws implementing the Convention (art. 2(1)).

Translation: Please stop squandering the (already meagre) resources of your country on your zo3ama, their families, their friends and their friends’ neighbors. Please stop threatening the few judges who’d like to do their jobs in peace. Please stop thinking that as an MP who never attends sessions anyway (sessions? what sessions?) you still deserve an escort of police and security every time you need to go to the Albergo. Please. Pretty please with sugar on it, please, we’re begging you. Like, seriously, stop it.

[h3]National human rights institution[/h3]

16. The Committee is concerned that the State party does not have a national human rights institution (art. 2(1)).

Translation: There are 114 national human rights institutions in this world, not one of which is Lebanese. What the f*ck Lebanon? What. The. F*ck?


18. The Committee is concerned at discrimination experienced by marginalized groups. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of effective remedies, legal or otherwise, available to victims of discrimination (art. 2(2)).

Translation: We just sat and laughed manically at this one, because frankly, we didn’t know where to start. Women and girls? The LGBTQI community? Refugees? Who should we have picked first? The judgments that completely let victims of violence against women and their families down? The religious laws that still regulate personal status? The ‘homosexuality’ tests performed on (poor) men ‘suspected’ of being gay? Or Law 534? Or the discriminatory municipal curfews imposed on refugees? The beatings of refugee children that go unnoticed and unpunished? WHERE DO WE START LEBANON?

[h3]Syrian refugees[/h3]

23. The Committee notes with concern the lack of financial resources and employment as well as the deplorable living conditions of some Syrian refugees, despite the resources invested by the State party to support them and the abolition of the “pledge not to work”. The Committee also regrets the position of the State party that granting fuller economic, social and cultural rights to refugees may discourage them from returning to their country of origin (art. 2(2)).

Translation: Listen, we know you keep repeating to anyone who would listen that Lebanon has ‘welcomed’ too many refugees. We get it. We do, really. We’ve heard you blame refugees for your waste management crisis, for bad weather, for Gebran Bassil nine ways to Sunday. But starving them, harassing them, preventing them from working are actually, you know, human rights violations. And making refugees (who are people, just FYI) live in deplorable conditions will not make them go back to their country of origin because their country of origin is burning. So, really, they’re stuck between dying under barrel bombing and dying in the frozen mud of a settlement in the Bekaa. So, no sorry, but even if you tell us your violations have a purpose, we’re not taking it and also please stop trying to justify severe breaches to human rights law in public. You’re kinda embarrassing yourselves.

[h3]Right to strike[/h3]

38. The Committee is concerned that civil servants in the State party do not have the right to strike. It is also concerned at the conditions imposed on the exercise of the right to strike (art. 8).

39. The Committee recommends that the State party bring its laws and regulations on the right to strike into conformity with international standards, including by limiting the exercise of the right to strike only for civil servants engaged in essential services and subjecting the reparation for damages resulting from strike-related demonstrations only to civil liability law and thereby dissociating it from the exercise of the right to strike.

Translation: Please stop harassing people over Le Gray’s window. We can’t even.

[h3]Corporal punishment[/h3]

47. The Committee is concerned at statistics showing that most children experience violent “discipline” at home and in school (art. 10).

Translation: dakhilkon stop distributing kfouf. Ma 7ada 'baddo kaffein'.

Except you, perhaps.

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