Lebanon doesn’t care about the International Refugee Convention… so why doesn’t it implement “forced return”?

There is a clear and unambiguous legal position that Lebanon is exempt from any obligations towards refugees. What does this mean in practice? What are the reasons for this liberation, or its effects on Lebanese society, as an institution and state? Why is the translation totally inconsistent with this legal basis?

This position emerged during a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee and is armed with existing legal justifications.

The head of the committee, Representative Michel Moussa, explains the starting point of this statement, telling Al-Nahar: “Lebanon is not a party to the Universal Refugee Convention signed in 1951, so it is not related to the legal protocol. Treaty published in 1967. Lebanon did not sign the treaty.

Action oriented

In practice, the equation is exactly the opposite. Since the start of the Syrian war, Lebanon has been bearing a growing refugee ball every year, now with negative and “catastrophic” consequences in terms of economic, social and political-security aspects. What kind of duality is this between legal and practical aspects?
Moussa comments: “What a pity it is. Legally, Lebanon is not bound by any of the provisions of the Global Compact, which means it cannot treat them as refugees, but in practical terms, Lebanon has no choice. It has treated Palestinian refugees in particular in the same way, and therefore, the Lebanese policy of resettlement or forced return. Can’t be used. It would have been huge and dangerous from a political and security standpoint.

Thus, Lebanon was caught between the anvil of the agreement and the hammer of conditions imposed by its neighboring relations with Syria, which had consequences for its economy, security and structure. To its unprecedented crises since 2019, the refugee crisis has been added. The absence of a unified official position and the absence of practical solutions by controlling borders and crossings made matters worse, leading to a proliferation of disastrous consequences.

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“Lebanon, which is not legally bound by any international agreement, does not apply any internal law to refugees, and therefore, our position was clear that it was free from any legal obligations, but, at the same time, it was committed to protecting their dignity and human rights.

However, will the international community help Lebanon to strengthen the official Lebanese position, especially before going to the Brussels conference, or is it possible to be more convinced of its position?

“Naturally”. Therefore, Moussa says, “the position of the Human Rights Committee was not hasty”, but rather “there was an intention in declaring this position, before the Brussels conference, especially since the official Lebanon is trying to gain more advantage at this time. International conventions, and to “exploit” this legal window and “safe” in Syria. Focusing on the “Zones” principle, to reduce as much as possible.

“The position of the Human Rights Committee was for a double purpose, we wanted to send a message to the international community that Lebanon cannot bear more burdens, and to unite a clear and public position for the Lebanese interior. What is happening in this spiral does not only threaten the economy of Lebanon or increase the burden on its infrastructure and demographic image, And recent incidents may threaten domestic peace and public stability, and risks need to be addressed.

International agreement

Therefore, the international community can help Lebanon in this direction, indeed this is its responsibility. Moussa reflects: “As a human rights group, the basic right of refugees is to return to their country and homeland, and this is the condition of salvation for them and Lebanon, and the countries concerned can do it, and we have pointed out this important legal aspect that is a powerful weapon for Lebanon.

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The question is: What does the International Refugee Convention refer to?

It is a treaty signed in 1951 and deals with the status of refugees, and a protocol was created in 1967. It defines the term “refugee” and specifies their rights and the legal obligations of signatory countries. with security.

A fundamental principle of the Convention is that “a refugee shall not be returned to a country where he faces a serious threat to his life or liberty.”

Lebanon could have legally closed its borders to refugees, “forced return” or deported anyone who entered. Except he didn’t. But, on the other hand, he has violated the principle of his moral-human magnanimity, crossing and spilling over borders and confusion, so what solutions can still save him?

Source – An-Nahar

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