Antoine Messarra (dir.), Lebanese
Legislation Monitor: Bridging the Gap Between Legislators and Civil
Society, Beirut, Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace, in
cooperation with National Endowment for Democracy, Librairie Orientale,
2005, 552 p. (in Arabic, with summary in English and French)
The book published by the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil
Peace includes the proceedings of four seminars held by the Foundation
in cooperation with Tripoli 's cultural Movement, the Chamber of
Commerce and Industry in Zahle, and the Cultural Movement in Antelias.
These seminars aimed at studying the legislations currently examined by
the Chamber of Deputies, the Council of Ministers and public
administrations (Dir.Antoine Messarra, Lebanese Legislation Monitor: Bridging the Gap Between Legislators and Civil Society, Beirut , Librairie Orientale, 2005, 552 p.)
The forward reads: “The Lebanese Legislation Monitor was
established for practical and applied communication between legislators
and civil society as concerns legislation to avoid that it be served all
ready to the people. The latter ought to feel concerned and share in
the making of this legislation endowing it with legitimacy, thus
increasing its chances to be enforced. Laws that are not highly
legitimate – i.e. accepted by the people – deviate when applied or are
not applied at all or are enforced through strength, which implies a
high administrative and judicial cost in order to ensure application and
The introduction reads: “Those who are basically concerned by
legislations are the people, all the people. If a legislation is in
favor of a given social category, the latter ought to ensure that the
prerogatives and guarantees endowed upon them through this legislation
be transmitted to all the society. The democratic aspect of any
legislation does not only result from the Chamber of Deputies; MPs and
ministers ought to assume the major responsibility of informing,
encouraging initiative-taking, inciting debate before and during the
study of laws and their approval. Legislation requires a methodology as
concerns public information, follow-up, and communication between
legislators and civil society.”
The following people contributed to the coordination of the
seminars: Tony George Atallah, Paul Morcos, Muhammad Misri, Therese
Legislation and its conformity with principles of human Rights
The book includes more than fifty papers (Robert Ghanim, Ibrahim
Traboulsi, Salah Honein, Walid Idu, Antoine Zakhia Sfeir, Denise Gebara
Khoury, Ahmad Lakis, Ma'mun Adra, Tariq Ziyade, Ahmad Sinjaqdar, Ghada
Ibrahim, Edmond Jrayssati, Toufiq Rashid Hindi, Antoine Elias Saliba,
Abbas Halabi, Ali Ahmad Darwish, Dalal Salhab...).
One can deduce six important observations from the debates and
researches: a lack of social and economic legislations, the publication
of legislations that come from highly influential political centers, the
weak support of civil society to legislative work, the disproportion
between laws decrees issued by the government and proposals made by MPs,
the absence – sometimes – of motives, and the lack of application
mechanisms for many laws.
It is said in the book that the aim is to ensure the civil
society's support to MPs who advocate people's cause; the civil society
ought to have an efficient and active role in the writing of
legislations, which will set up a new pattern of dialogue and debate
around day-to-day matters.
Five Main Goals
The five main goals of the Program “Lebanese Legislation Monitor:
Bridging the Gap Between Legislators and Civil Society” (2005-2007) are:
1. Advocating democracy and Human Rights : this
is by looking for ways that purify Lebanese legislations from articles
that may blemish the democratic quality of laws, and by putting forward
suggestions in order to purify a given legislation from any violations
of human Rights and democracy.
2. MPs and civil society : one of the bases of the Program
is that it is a frame of cooperation and mutual support as concerns
highly crucial matters in the work of MPs and the government – i.e.
3. Network building : a network of MPs, civil societies,
media, in order to efficiently apply the recommendations of the Monitor
as concerns legislative matters.
4. Developing democratic culture and culture in terms of the rule of law :
this is through support to a culture based on the reading of laws from
the perspective of democratic and human Rights principles, not only
through bureaucratic organization and tax levying.
5. Reference: the Program aims at becoming a reference as concerns democratic analysis or application.
More than twenty proposals
The major MPs who take part in the Program include: Robert Ghanem,
Salah Honein, Walid Idu, Muhammad Qabbani, Ahmad Fatfat, Serge
Torsarkissian, Nicolas Fattush, Ghassan Mukhayber, Muhammad Safadi,
Qaysar Mu'awwad, Yusuf Maalouf, etc.
The activities of the Program in its first year were about more
than twenty draft laws and proposals namely: military service (Robert
Iskandar Ghanim, etc.), presidential prerogatives and the amendment of
the Constitution (Salah Honein), penal laws (Walid Idu), the chart of
pedestrians (Muhammad Qabbani), immigration (Serge Torsarkissian), law
of procedure (Muhammad Safadi), legislation procedures (Ghassan
Mukhaybir, Ibrahim Trabulsi), social security (Qaysar Mu'awwad),
settlement of the infringing coastal properties (Ahmad Laqis), the
payment of the traders' debts in installments (Ma'mun Adrah), the
organization of the Judges' Fund and the Schools' Fund (Tariq Ziyade and
Ahmad Sinjaqdar), social and economic legislations (Ali Ahmad Darwish).
The fourth chapter is entirely about ‘minimal standards of the
electoral law' (Antoine Sayf, Antoine Messarra, Abbas Halabi, Toni
Atallah, Paul Murqus, Dalal Salhab).
The Program activities will be pursued in 2005; a fifth seminar was
held in cooperation with the Cultural Movement in Tripoli , on February
12, 2005. A sixth seminar was held in Saida-Majdelyoun in cooperation
with the National Council for Childhood in June 2005.