Event Reports

International Mechanisms and Complaint Procedures for Protecting Human Rights

From 9 to 11 September 2015, around 40 Lebanese lawyers reflected on the effectivity of international human rights conventions in Lebanon and the means through which they be defended by judges, lawyers and civil society.

Several stakeholders and high representatives participated in the event organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, in partnership the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace and the Beirut Bar Association. Notable guests at the opening session were Georges Jreij, President of the Beirut Bar Association, Elisabeth Zakharia Sioufi, director of the Human Rights Institute of the Beirut Bar Association, and Professor Antoine Messarra, member of the Lebanese Constitutional Council.

Three human rights dimensions were brought forward and discussed throughout the event: first, the nature, universality and imperativeness of human rights conventions; second, the available means to defending them and possible enforcement mechanisms on the national and international levels; finally, the improvement of the effectiveness of human rights work.

It was emphasised that the source of human rights is human dignity. Human rights principles are universal because the human species shares a common biological structure and a common habitat, and because a consensus about core values exists. Despite this, particularisms in the specific arrangements remain due to cultural, historical and political variables. On the other hand, the imperative character of human rights conventions is an integral part of world constitutions on the international level, and is even embodied in the preamble of the Lebanese constitution.

The speakers pointed out that Lebanon has not ratified a single convention allowing for individual complaints, and criticised the negligence of the Lebanese Parliament in human rights matters (among other shortcomings, it neglected to submit required periodic reviews to international treaty bodies). The speakers therefore emphasised Parliament’s responsibility in developing additional legislation to implement and effectively ratify the conventions, especially because they give substance to executive measure and sanctions.

In order to improve the efficiency of human rights jurisdiction, the Lebanese authorities have to be pressured to sign and ratify missing conventions. The recommendations appearing in the conventions have yet to be systematised in a road map providing for concrete procedures. Additionally, an exchange on best practice should take place between jurists.