Lebanon: Country profile 2013 - 2018

This country profile summarizes the findings of the Social Rights Monitor carried out in Lebanon between 2013 and 2018. The Social Rights Monitor is a tool developed by SOLIDAR members and partners to allow partner organizations and allies based in the country to assess the situations in terms of social protection, decent work and an enabling environment and track the progress made since the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the partnership priorities established with the EU. Most of the reports have been developed in the framework of a regional programme “Mobilizing for Social Justice: Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa region” led by SOLIDAR.

In the case of Lebanon, the social rights monitor highlights that stabilization and security have remained at the top of the EU agenda and showed that focusing on stabilization as a political priority in merely security and economic terms has proved to be a key challenge for a mutually accountable partnership between the EU and Lebanon, and overall for the region. The region is indeed facing important social challenges as well. For example, the 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index rates Lebanon 4/5, which means that systematic violations of labour rights occur. The Civicus Monitor rates Lebanon as ‘Obstructed’ in 2018 although they note that civil society has burgeoned since a public uprising ended the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 2005.

In this respect, the Social rights monitor stressed that the roots of these problems lie in a complex interaction between several factors that go beyond mere security, and include economic social and political elements. Thus, even stabilization should be founded on a strategy that essentially takes into account those different elements, including the achievement of social and economic rights

In light of it, our recommendations towards the EU and its European Neighborhood Policy are to:

  • Promote reforms in the public health sector to ensure universal and non-discriminatory coverage to all people in Lebanon
  • Promote a revision of the social protection policy to address inequalities
  • Promote a national development strategy centered on workers’ rights, employability and decent work
  • Promote access to employment for Syrian and Palestinian refugees
  • Promote a reform of the tax system to tackle the informal economy, stimulate demand for decent work and improve redistribution
  • Promote an enabling environment for CSOs and trade unions

 

SOCIAL RIGHTS MONITOR – SUMMARY

2013

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2013 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (2) Freedom of expression and information; (3) Democratic transition and civil dialogue; (4) Respect for labour rights and decent work; (5) Access and coverage of quality services; (6) Ensuring income support.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • No progress in social protection reforms    
  • Non-inclusive policies    
  • Too targeted policies and lack of policies addressing poverty
  • 28% of the population under the poverty line

Decent Work

  • 56% of the Palestinian refugees are unemployed
  • Labour discriminations against Palestinian refugees
  • Child labour concerning 100,000 children

Freedom of Association

  • Restrictive law on trade unions and youth organisations
  • Public servants prohibited to join trade unions
  • Palestinians not allowed to form CSOs or trade unions
  • No ratification of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Right to Organise

 

2014 

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2014 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy 2014 and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs); (2) Ability to establish associations and their access to funding; (3) Participation in decision-making processes (including EU delegations); (4) Setup of social protection floors; (5) growing informal economy and indecent work; (6) Respect for migrant workers’ rights

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Growing pressures on public sector due to the Syrian refugee crisis
  • Problem of accessibility to education services by Syrian refugees
  • Higher education system weakened by confessional divisions
  • Insufficient health services

Decent Work

  • High unemployment rates
  • Pressure on job market due to influx of Syrian refugees
  • Risk of labour rights violations for unregistered refugees
  • Restrictive labour legislations for migrants

Freedom of Association

  • Pressure and intimidations on trade unionists

 

2015

SOLIDAR, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), and the Euromed Non-Governmental Platform invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to comment the 2015 Progress Report developed by the EU on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The purpose is to see how the ENP, and its related programming documents, include (or not) the promotion of social protection for all or any of the following benchmarks and indicators: (1) Improving equitable access to essential services; (2) Ensuring Income security; (3) Promoting a Rights Based Approach to Social Protection; (4) Freedom of association; (5) Financing Social Protection.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Syrian crisis impacting state infrastructures
  • Lack of accessible and affordable quality health care in light of private sector expansion
  • 53% of Lebanese are without a structured health coverage
  • 38% Lebanese are without any health insurance
  • Absence of elderly retirement system
  • Regional discrimination to access quality public services
  • Palestinian refugees discriminated against access to public services
  • Disparities in education quality between public and private sector
  • Low spending on public education
  • 50% Syrian refugee children not enrolled in school
  • Increasing poverty especially amongst Syrian and Palestinian refugees
  • Deficient social security coverage
  • Vulnerable population outside formal social protection system

Decent Work

  • Low minimum wage despite inflation
  • Employment sector under tension because of Syrian refugee crisis
  • Exploitation of Syrian refugees

Freedom of Association

  • Notification needed to create associations
  • Authorisation needed to create trade unions
  • Unions monitored by Ministry of Labour
  • Civil society and unions’ rights not recognized by private sector

 

2018

Consultations with civil society organizations, including SOLIDAR members and project partners, have been conducted within the seven countries covered by the project ‘Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa: Mobilizing for Social Justice by strengthening and promoting CSOs, social movements and independent trade unions’ role in reforms and democratic changes’. Qualitative feedback was collected on the basis of a questionnaire, the so-called ‘Social Rights Monitor’, offering room for civil society organizations and independent trade unions to explain and provide input along three dimensions, namely social protection, decent work and freedom of association. It includes the following indicators: (1) Access to essential services in particular health care; (2) Income security; (3) Poverty reduction and opportunities; (4) labour rights and working conditions; (5) Employment; (6) Social dialogue; (7) Civil society space; (8) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (9) Freedom of expression; opinion; and rights to information.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • No universal access to health care
  • 53% of Lebanese without a structured health coverage
  • Quality gap between public and private hospitals
  • Discrimination against Syrian and Palestinian refugees regarding access to public services
  • Poor sanitary conditions in camps
  • Insufficient income security
  • Social spending are not meeting expected results
  • Low or inexistent pension in private sector
  • Social protection only available for those in the formal sector and limited to basic health services, family allowances and end-of-service lump sum

Decent Work

  • Important number of people working without a contract or a daily contract
  • Insufficient minimum wage despite inflation and protest
  • Minimum wage not always respected due to lack of state control
  • Sponsorship system making migrant and refugee domestic workers dependent on employers and vulnerable to exploitation
  • Labour market and employment policies are not amongst government priorities
  • Employment conditions are not expected to improve due to neo-liberal policies and lack of national development strategy

Freedom of Association

  • Right to collective bargain undermined because of excessive requirements (e.g.: 60% workers’ agreement to collective bargaining threshold)
  • Punctual violations of freedom of association and peaceful assembly
  • No cooperation between CSO and the State
  • Security forces dispersing demonstrations instead of preserving safety and security

 

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