The situation in Lebanon and challenges for regional stability and European security
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 26 January 2017 (8th Sitting) (see Doc. 14226, report of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy,
rapporteur: Mr Tobias Zech). Text adopted
by the Assembly on 26 January 2017 (8th Sitting).
The Parliamentary Assembly recalls
its Resolution 1520 (2006)
recent developments in Lebanon in the context of the situation in
the Middle East, in which it stated that a lasting political solution
in the region can only be achieved through political dialogue among
all parties concerned and that it considered itself to be particularly
well placed to pursue such a dialogue at the parliamentary level.
2. The Assembly recognises the many specificities that make Lebanon
a unique country. It is the most religiously diverse country in
the Middle East and the Arab country with the largest Christian
population. Lebanon is the oldest democracy in the Middle East.
Political power is shared by Christians, Sunni and Shia according
to an agreement between the respective communities. Surrounded by
conflicts, Lebanon is a good example of peaceful co-existence and
should be supported to allow this to continue.
3. The Assembly welcomes the election of Michel Aoun as President
of Lebanon on 31 October 2016, which showed that consensus was possible
between the different political parties. The inability to elect
a president for more than two-and-a-half years had paralysed the
country and deprived it of the ability to react to the challenges
in the region.
4. The election of Mr Aoun, after the longest presidential void
in Lebanon's history, put an end to a constitutional crisis which
posed a serious threat to the fragile balances on which the functioning
of Lebanese society is based. If such balances were to be disrupted,
regional stability would be further undermined and, for obvious
reasons, security would be challenged in the whole of Europe.
5. The Assembly welcomes the formation of a national unity government
on 18 December 2016, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The Assembly
sees this development, together with the election of President Aoun,
as a vital step for the stability of Lebanon. However, it does not
guarantee that the country’s other problems will be solved. The
Assembly wishes to see further political reconciliation, especially
in line with the upcoming general elections scheduled to take place
before 22 June 2017.
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, the Assembly has
been drawing attention to the plight of refugees. Already in 2012,
it adopted Resolution 1902 (2012)
the European response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria; in April
2013, it held a current affairs debate on “Syrian refugees in Jordan,
Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq: how to organise and support international
assistance?”; in June 2013, it adopted Resolution 1940 (2013)
on the situation
in the Middle East; in October 2013, Recommendation 2026 (2013)
situation in Syria; in January 2014, Resolution 1971 (2014)
how to organise and support international assistance?”; and in April
2016, Resolution 2107 (2016)
a stronger European response to the Syrian refugee crisis. These
texts list the measures that the Assembly deems necessary to cope
with the refugee crisis.
7. During the last five years, the refugee situation has worsened
and today Lebanon hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees.
This number adds to the many other refugees who were already there,
making Lebanon the country with the highest number of refugees per
capita in the world.
8. The refugee crisis is becoming unsustainable for Lebanon in
many respects: municipalities, on which the responsibility falls,
are unable to provide adequate food, sanitation, health care or
schooling and it is civil society, together with international organisations,
which is trying to cope with the situation. Greater international solidarity
is clearly needed. The economic situation in general is dire and
the youth unemployment rate is extremely high.
9. The Assembly thanks Lebanon for its generosity and calls on
the international community, in addition to the measures already
indicated in previous texts, to step up, as a matter of urgency,
its contribution to support and assist the refugees presently in
Lebanon. States should, on the one hand, increase their financial
support for the humanitarian response on the ground and, on the
other hand, increase resettlement possibilities for those refugees
wishing to relocate. The Assembly welcomes, however, the fact that
the situation in the camps housing Palestinian refugees has improved,
including the living conditions and the legal rights of Palestinians.
10. The Assembly calls on the Lebanese Parliament to consider
asking the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice
Commission) for its assistance in revising the electoral law.
11. Finally, the Assembly has decided to develop relations with
the Lebanese Parliament, first by inviting Lebanese parliamentarians
to follow its work and then by encouraging the Lebanese Parliament
to consider applying for partnership for democracy status with the