UN considers Lebanon report on Discrimination against women
Beirut - The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered the third periodic report of Lebanon on how that country is implementing the provisions of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Introducing the report, Leila Azouri Jamhouri, Member of the Executive Board of the Lebanese National Commission for Women's Affairs, said the last two and a half years had been characterized by dramatic events, assassinations and conflicts, including war. The State was working to integrate the concept of gender in the planning of its programs and the elaboration of measures and dispositions in several fields, including the social, educational, legal and health fields in particular. The main challenge to which Lebanon had to face up today was the return to political life in the context of a normal situation in the country. The State would, in this context, face up to its obligations to activate the application of the Convention, and focus on women's issues.
Among questions and issues raised by Committee Experts were how was the Government implementing its obligations vis-Ã -vis Palestinian refugee women; what priorities the Committee for the Modernization of Laws was giving to the discriminatory laws, particularly on adultery, contained in the legislation; what was the organization responsible for the issue of women's rights; what was being done to protect refugee women from discrimination and violence, and to provide them with their rights to education and health; what was the impact on the quality of education of the conflict, and the access to education, in particular of girls; what possibilities for education existed for the refugee population; and the need to make all rules on private life uniform, providing equality to men and women without discrimination.
In concluding remarks, Ms. Jamhouri said Lebanon had presented several reports within a very short time, and would take heed of the Committee's recommendations and conclusions, hoping that the latter would convince the decision-makers in Lebanon to take a central interest in women's issues. However, the delegation did not wish to be unfair to Lebanon and to its institutions, as these were undergoing difficult circumstances, and it was hoped that once peace was established, the dialogue could continue.
Dubravka Simonovic, Chairperson of the Committee, also in preliminary concluding comments, said many Committee members had acknowledged the difficult situation in Lebanon. Lebanon would receive a set of concluding comments, and it was important to note that previous comments were still relevant, as they had not yet been implemented, and it was important for the Government to consider these. Lebanon should continue with ratification of the Optional Protocol, and withdrawal of reservations.
Among the delegation were representatives of the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Department of Women's Affairs in the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Secretariat of the National Commission for Women's Affairs, the Executive Office of the National Commission for Women's Affairs, and the Women's Commission of the Arab League.
The next meeting of the Committee will be at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 23 January, when it will take up the fifth periodic report of Luxembourg (CEDAW/C/LUX/5).
Report of Lebanon
The third periodic report of Lebanon (CEDAW/C/LBN/2-4) says that in its reports of 2000 and 2004, Lebanon affirmed that its Constitution establishes the equality of all citizens before the law, without discrimination, and that a number of positive laws, either prior or subsequent to its accession to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, include explicit provisions affirming equality or outlawing discrimination on any basis whatsoever, including that of gender. The explicit inclusion in the Constitution of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is extremely important at constitutional level, particularly as the Constitutional Council of Lebanon has resolved to consider the preamble to the Constitution as an indivisible part of the Constitution. The observer of legislative development over the last five years of several laws, particularly the Labour Code, the Social Security Code and the regulations pertaining to State employees, will notice a clear desire on the part of the legislature to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender.
With the exception of the personal status laws, which are currently outside the framework of discussion, the process of removing from Lebanese legislation the discriminatory provisions against women is proceeding systematically. The elements of current civil legislation and applied regulations that have not yet been amended are limited to certain specific matters that are not problematic. As regards the Penal Code, a draft amendment is under discussion by the competent parliamentary committees. Notwithstanding the many complexities of the personal status system in Lebanon, which some Lebanese seek to evade in one way or another, particularly at the level of the institution of marriage, and notwithstanding that Lebanese legislation recognizes civil marriages contracted by Lebanese abroad, attempts to establish a unified personal status civil law, albeit optional, have so far been unsuccessful. The reason for this is that the social structure on which the Lebanese political, administrative and legislative system is built is a composite, based upon a sectarian foundation.
For the first time in Lebanon, a ministerial statement (issued by the present Government in July 2005) contains paragraphs on women and explicit references to the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals. The statement declared that the Government will strive to focus on issues of woman as an essential and active partner in public life by creating the appropriate legal environment to strengthen their role in various sectors, and will lay the foundations for the incorporation of the concept of gender in all fiscal, economic and social policies in line with new international thinking in this respect. The CEDAW Committee of the National Commission for Lebanese Women was formed at the end of 2005 and its tasks have included preparation of the third official CEDAW report, and planning of the activities associated with preparation and supervision of implementation.
Introduction of Report
LEILA AZOURI JAMHOURI, Member of the Executive Board of the Lebanese National Commission for Women's Affairs, introducing the third periodic report of Lebanon, said for Lebanon, the last two and a half years had been characterized by dramatic events, assassinations and conflicts, including war. The situation had deteriorated in all respects, including the economic and social realms. The Governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with women's issues had worked very hard to overcome these challenges, and put in place a culture of equality. The question of violence against women was no longer a subject which underwent the law of silence - it had now become a recognized problem, no longer limited to the realm of private life alone, and was exposed to public attention. In this connection, a religious leader in Lebanon had made an appeal to eliminate violence against women, whatsoever its form, and whether it be perpetrated in the family, the home, or any other location. He issued a fatwa stating that women could react against corporal violence when they were victimized. He pointed out that the tutelage did not mean that men were superior to women, but that the man should assume responsibility for the family, in which men and women were equal partners. Crimes of honor represented an action that was abhorrent and should be condemned.
On women's participation in the decision-making process and the progress made with regards to her participation in political life and public affairs, women have participated in the current and previous Governments. Regarding the extent of their participation in legislative power, the final draft of the electoral law stipulated that 51 seats in the Parliament out of 128 should be filled on the basis of a proportional list, so that out of these 51, at least 30 per cent, should be held by women. With regards to international conventions on the rights of men and women, the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons should be signed shortly. No decision had been taken so far on the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families. Following the dramatic consequences of the Israeli war against Lebanon in July and August 2006, which had primarily affected civilians, including women and children, the National Commission for the Lebanese Woman, in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund had launched a project named Women's Empowerment: Peaceful Action for Security and Stability. This project aimed to reinforce the capacities of women in the regions affected by the war. It also aimed to fight against violence against women, to reinforce the participation of women in public life, and spread the rights-based culture, sensitizing public opinion to subjects related to women's rights, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The State was working to integrate the concept of gender in the planning of its programs and the elaboration of measures and dispositions in several fields, including the social, educational, legal and health fields in particular. Given that such integration required sufficient knowledge of the gender perspective, the National Commission for Women's Affairs was working together with the United Nations Development Fund for Women to put in place a project to strengthen the information base and ensure that a sound and exhaustive database was established, allowing for the coordination of efforts, and the establishment of a network to facilitate the communication between civil society and Governmental organizations. With regards to the reservations of Lebanon to the Convention, the report underlined the absence of official progress at the level of modifying the law on nationality, and the adoption of a unified code on personal status, which would guarantee the rights of women. However, the report highlighted the importance that civil society organizations gave to the removal of these reservations. The main challenge to which Lebanon had to face up today was the return to political life in the context of a normal situation in the country. The State would, in this context, face up to its obligations to activate the application of the Convention, and focus on women's issues.
Questions by Experts on Articles One and Two
Among questions and issues raised by Experts were whether the Government would reconsider its reservations to articles nine and sixteen of the Convention; whether the Optional Protocol would be ratified; how was the Government implementing its obligations vis-Ã -vis Palestinian refugee women; what priorities the Committee for the Modernization of Laws was giving to the discriminatory laws, particularly on adultery, contained in the legislation; the need for a unified code on the family, applicable to all Lebanese, in the context of the need to change the laws on honour killings, quotas, and stereotypes; the need for a healthy relationship with non-governmental organizations in the context of implementation of the Convention; what role was played by the National Commission for Women's Affairs; and whether the rights of women were at the core of the national reconstruction policy.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, the delegation said after the cessation of hostilities, action had been taken in line with the Convention. The National Commission for Women's Affairs, Ms. Jamhouri said, was officially entrusted with the task of drafting the reports submitted to the Committee. It was impartial, and tried to fill its mandate covering strategies and policies for Lebanese women, trying to keep some distance from the public authorities as well as from civil society organizations. It tried to take account of both sides of the story. It was made up of individuals who were selected in order to serve the interests of women. It contained some who were invited to become members because of their professional skills and competence, others because of their abilities and knowledge. The National Commission was considered as nationally representing the concerns about women's issues. A number of bills or laws had been submitted regarding the reform of the Criminal Code. Some articles contained discrimination against women, and these had to be amended to remove the discrimination. These proposals aimed to change the Criminal Code in this regard, such as the provisions on honor crimes. They would be submitted and reviewed by Parliament, which would have to assume its functions in this regard.
On the Constitution, the delegation said with regards to the equality of men and women, no discrimination was made therein. It sought to defend the rights of both alike; furthermore, Lebanon had endeavored to adopt the various international conventions and treaties. Lebanon had committed itself to ensuring that women took an active part in the construction of economic life, and could be fully-fledged partners in all areas of endeavor. Tribunals did everything they could to enforce the different instruments. There were a number of proposals before Parliament to amend the Criminal Code and the Code of Identity for Personal Status. In the last 18 months, the Parliament had been paralyzed, and there had been no changes in this area. There had been two major Constitutional reviews since 1920, the last in 1989, when there had been substantial modification. In the current turbulence, there was no national consensus, and therefore progress had to be made very carefully. The regional context and the economic state of affairs were counter pressures, impeding the new Civil Code, as everybody was afraid of offending others. Spiritual leaders were gaining more and more ground, influencing policy, and this could impede positive actions made towards a new Civil Code. Lebanese society was sliding towards greater social conservatism, and things that could have been done 20 years ago were more difficult today, such as issues like civil marriages. There was a need to create greater awareness, and bring greater pressure on political leaders.
In the Constitution, Ms. Jamhouri said, there was room for communities to legislate in the area of personal status. The Constitution could be amended in this regard, but there was a need for two-thirds majority for this to take place. Efforts were being made to fight against discrimination against women, as well as violence against women, the delegation said, and the Ministry of Justice was taking action, maybe somewhat lukewarm, but that was still effective, in particular in conjunction with the Ministry of Labor on the situation of migrant workers. The position of the National Commission for Women's Affairs was very clear - it had told the Government that Ministerial Declarations were not enough. The situation was very difficult, and the Commission was bringing pressure to bear to ensure that there was a clear policy, and that resources were used on women's issues. High on the list of priorities was that of women who had to raise their families alone: 14 per cent of Lebanese families had women heads. Measures were being adopted by the Ministry of Social Affairs, as part of the Social Action Plan, involving a number of Ministries. A debate was going on in Lebanon on human rights in general, Ms. Jamhouri said, on domestic and migrant workers, as well as on trafficking in persons. The National Action Plan on Human Rights had been taken up by the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, but the political situation had paralyzed the Committee, and disabled it from continuing its work, the delegation said.
Questions by Experts on Articles Three, Four and Five
Among questions and issues raised by Experts were what institutional mechanisms existed for the advancement of women and gender equality; what was the organization responsible for the issue of women's rights; was today's dialogue with the National Commission for Women's Affairs or with the Lebanese Government; to whom did the National Commission report, and from where did its budget come; what was its authority and mandate; whether there was a National Plan of Action on women's affairs which was related to the Beijing Plan of Action; that Lebanese society should be ready to improve the situation for women as soon as the national situation improved, and how could the national mechanisms be bolstered and strengthened in this regard; how could there be coordination with other Arab countries for training in such matters as with regards to judges, who had an important role in implementing the Convention; the need to eliminate extremist stereotypes; and what had been the results and impact of programs in eliminating stereotypes.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, Ms. Jamhouri said the Government was bound to implement international conventions. The Constitutional Council, which was not currently functioning, adopted numerous resolutions in which it confirmed the precedence of international instruments over internal laws. These instruments had constitutional weight, as did any other provisions or articles of the Constitution. International instruments took precedence over internal laws at the level of the judiciary. Constitutional authorities should ensure the adaptation of national laws to put them in line with the international conventions. This was one of the major achievements that had been reached. The delegation said that those in charge of follow-up to the Beijing Conference decided to set up a mechanism to guide the official institutions, whilst coordinating with civil society and foreign organizations. The aim was to avoid overlap between the action of the National Commission, other bodies, and Ministries when implementing programmes. A law had been enacted to set up this body, and the Government instructed to make use of a portion of the public budget for this purpose. It could not be said that the Government failed to meet the needs of the institution - it was set up pursuant to a decree, a budget was allocated, and the members designated. The Commission was empowered to follow-up on issues concerning women - its strategy from the outset had been to work in coordination with national and State institutions, and civil society. So far, the Commission had not been able to enter into much dialogue with the political world. However, it was working to strengthen itself in order to be able to remedy this.
On focal points, the National Women's Commission had worked together with the United Nations Development Fund for Women and other United Nations organizations following the Beijing Plan of Action, and a number of focal points had been appointed in the different Ministries, in order to ensure that more attention was paid to women's issues therein. A number of problems had been encountered in mainstreaming the gender issues, and focal points did not always have the necessary skills which made it possible for them to follow up on initiatives, the delegation said. Regarding the Lebanese passport, there was a special measure that allowed the mother to sign the passport of her child. This came into force when the law had not been modified, allowing the State to provide equality to the mother, whilst waiting for the law to be changed. There was heightened sensitivity to the action of different institutions with regards to education and stereotypes. When the school books were last revised, a certain amount of research had been done, however some still remained, and work was being done to change this. Training was provided to teachers in schools on these issues in order to raise awareness on the question.
Questions by Experts on Article Six
Among questions and issues raised by Experts were what was the progress towards bringing Lebanese legislation into line with the Palermo Protocol; whether victims of trafficking were sent back to the country of origin; what were the main elements in the review of the legislative elements on prostitution, and whether there was a time-frame for this review; what was being done to protect refugee women from discrimination and violence, and to provide them with their rights to education and health; what was the effectiveness and progress of the Prime-Ministerial Decree through which a Steering Committee was established to investigate various issues including the employment law with regards to foreign workers; and whether domestic migrant workers could retain and carry their passports.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, the Government had started to work on all files regarding the lack of judicial intervention. It appeared that there was confusion about the crime of trafficking in persons - some considered it violence, others regarded it as kidnapping or abduction, Ms. Jamhouri said, without being sure that the crimes could really be viewed as trafficking. The Lebanese Penal Code had many provisions that penalized and sanctioned acts, without labeling them expressly as trafficking - and thus it sanctioned many acts, however, what was important was to see whether these sentences were sufficient or not. The results seemed to indicate that Lebanon needed a new law which expressly covered trafficking in persons. This issue was under review, and the Ministry of Justice and the Steering Committee were continuing to survey the issue, before moving on to determining steps to be taken on the basis of the surveys, so that Lebanon could implement the instruments it had ratified.
Work was being done to provide migrant workers with a unified contract that would be vetted by the Government, either as a specific law, or included in the Constitution. Lebanese laws did not discriminate against female migrant workers in particular. Domestic workers were a category that was excluded from the labor code, whether they were nationals or migrant workers. Both categories were covered under the law on duties and contracts.
Questions by Experts on Articles Seven to Nine
Among questions and issues raised by Experts were what was the strategy of the Government to overcome apparently strong contradictions; what was being done to increase the number of women presented for elections; if there was a monitoring mechanism in place to collect data on women in decision-making posts in the Government and public institutions; what were the measures to further increase the representation of women in decision-making posts in diplomacy; whether the Government could look into how to raise awareness in the country so that when the Parliament resumed work, then draft laws could be voted on immediately; what was being done to ensure that refugee children had access to education and to ID cards; and whether there could be a national scheme to contribute towards the costs of women who were willing to run for election.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, the delegation said on the election law, there was only a draft election law, which had been drawn up by a Committee over several months, having consulted civil society organizations, parties, other organizations and public personalities. Civil society organizations had put on pressure in order to have a clear quota for women. There had also been a wish for contributions to cover candidacy costs, so that women would not be prejudiced as they had less capital than men. This law had not been adopted. The draft also covered the issue of equality in the coverage of election campaigns to guarantee equal rights for all candidates. With regards to women in diplomacy, immense progress had been made, with somewhat over 35 per cent of diplomats today being female.
Regarding the portrayal of women in the media, Lebanon upheld the freedom of expression, unless there was a violation or offence against public order. The media in Lebanon was not controlled, but was committed to respecting public order, Ms. Jamhouri said. Lebanon would make further efforts to catch up with the rest of Arab society with regards to citizenship rights in the context of couples in which the wife was Lebanese. The low participation of women in elections was not due to the cost of electoral campaigns, the delegation said, it was due to the fact that there were not enough women candidates. Further efforts needed to be made to encourage women to stand for office.
Questions by Experts on Articles Ten and Eleven
Among questions and issues raised by Experts were what was the impact of the conflict on the quality of education and the access to education, in particular of girls; what possibilities for education existed for the refugee population; whether there was a specific policy to reduce illiteracy for women and girls; whether the concept of gender was included in the curriculum, and if not were there any plans to do so; whether teachers and professors were trained in the gender dimension; if the Government had any plans to reform the system to ensure that all children got the same quality of education; whether the Government ensured there was quality education for women and girls in the Palestinian refugee camps; whether there were any plans to educate domestic workers, in particular those looking after children; why some private schools were free and others were not, and who ran these schools; and whether the Government had any impact policy-wise on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East's education provisions.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, the delegation said there had been an effect of the conflict on schooling for both boys and girls - more than 300 schools had been destroyed, although a number had since been rehabilitated thanks to the aid from Arab States. However, the conflict had affected both sexes equally with regards to access to education. The situation was critical, and it was being monitored. The Ministry of Social Affairs had focused on it also. Private schools had existed in the past. From the demographic standpoint, more than half the population was in Beirut and its suburbs, with 30 per cent in neighboring cities. There was a certain centralization of private schools in more populated regions. The Government was committed to ensuring the existence of a school in every village, but this was not yet a 100 per cent reality. The Government had been working for a long time on standardizing the curricula, and had been working to provide training to teachers, in order to ensure that teaching provided was of high standard. However, some problems were faced in this regard. There were a number of religious institutions which provided education, and the Government had supported some of these financially.
There was quite a lot of variation in the school curriculum - every school had the right to determine its own curriculum, within the framework of a central program, the delegation said. It could not be said that there was gender discrimination in secondary schools or universities. The level of enrollment of girls was higher than that of boys in universities. In general, women who followed the traditional education system were greater in number, and it had been possible to increase their representation in non-traditional sectors. It was difficult to strike a balance between education and access to jobs, and the demand on the market. Efforts needed to be made to provide programs specific for women, and improve the various curricula in schools and universities. Work was being done to ensure a gender dimension in universities as well as schools.
Due to abuses against female migrant workers, a Steering Committee had been set up to improve their situation, the delegation said, and amend the Labor Law in their regard. Seventy per cent of women's employment overall was in the service sector - this sector was particularly vulnerable to the conflict. After the conflict, a new phenomenon arose, with a rise of female migration from the country. Economic pressures did not allow the authorities currently to control the salaries and wages of males and females, since employment opportunities had decreased. The priority was finding a job rather than ensuring equality in salaries and wages.
Questions by Experts on Articles Twelve to Fourteen
Among questions and issues raised by Experts were what was being done to ensure the ordinary person had access to all health services, including in the private sector; were all specialized services available in health centers and did they have enough staff; what were maternal mortality rates; whether there was distribution of contraceptives; whether abortion was allowed in the case of protection of the mother's life or rape; what was the situation of women with disabilities, who suffered double discrimination; why seasonal and temporary agricultural workers were excluded from receiving social security benefits; whether there was any sex-disaggregated data on the number of women working in family enterprises, and why the full range of social security benefits was not extended to this group of workers; what was the health situation of elderly rural women; and what was the strategy to protect rural women and refugee women from domestic violence.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, the delegation said reproductive health had been integrated into basic health care, allowing for an expansion and improvement of the latter. More and more births were followed by health services. There had been preventive campaigns against breast and cervical cancer, and in some areas screening was free of charge. The concept of reproductive health was disseminated in primary and secondary schools. Mortality due to clandestine abortion was almost insignificant, thanks to awareness campaigns which had reduced unwanted pregnancies. Regarding women in the agricultural area who were professionally active, 500,000 people were living in the rural zone. Between 2003 and 2005, agricultural earnings accounted for 6 per cent of GDP. However, there had been many changes in the wake of the 2006 war, at the end of which 68 per cent of arable land was highly damaged, and the proportion of agricultural income had therefore dropped considerably. This had a serious impact on rural women. Thanks to international backing, the Lebanese army was removing cluster bombs in this area.
Women as farm employees accounted for 3 per cent of working women, but women were 44 per cent of the total workforce of agricultural areas, the delegation said. The Government was seeking to strengthen the social protection networks in rural areas to provide better care to these women. Statistical surveys had been performed and revealed that 14 per cent of families with modest income or poor families were headed by women. The Government was working very hard to make available micro credits and funding, amongst other efforts to stem poverty in these areas. Women agricultural workers were in dire need of social security benefits. Work was being done to improve the overall situation of women in rural areas, including elderly women, and an Observatory would be set up this year to examine all aspects of agricultural activity with regards to women working on farms.
Questions by Experts on Articles Fifteen and Sixteen
Among questions and issues raised by Experts were that women suffered from great injustice in Lebanon, in particular Orthodox women; that there was no unified law on personal status and each citizen was subject to the tribunals in force in their religious community; the need to make all rules on private life uniform, providing equality to men and women without discrimination; whether there were any figures on inter-faith marriages, and whether there were any services that couples could approach in the case of rejection by their own communities; the need to regularize the minimum age of marriage, as this varied from group to group; whether alimony was sufficient to ensure an adequate standard of living for women; whether all religious groups gave parental authority to the father over the mother, and whether the Government had any plans to encourage a more gender-balanced approach to parenting; whether there were any examples where custody had been granted to women over men; and whether women were allowed to represent clients in the religious courts.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, Ms. Jamhouri said with regard to property ownership, Lebanese women benefited from the right of property and to dispose of that property as they saw fit. There was however a dichotomy in the area of inheritance between Islamic and non-Islamic legislation. The civil State did legislate with regards to inheritance, but only for non-Muslims, stipulating that there should be equality between men and women in this regard. With regards to the issue of child custody, a few precedents had been set by the Sharia courts, giving custody to the mother, but these did not provide a final solution to the issue. A solution had to be found which guaranteed both the rights of women and full equity. On the age of marriage, this was governed by civil statutes on women. The Government could intervene, but such actions did not address the matter as a whole, but only matters of detail. On guardianship and tutelary arrangements, this was governed by Sharia and also by civil legislation. Positive signs were emerging in this regard, auguring well for future change. The current situation resulted from the fact that rulings handed down by traditional bodies only became effective if a decision was taken by the civil authorities, who were obliged to negotiate the matters with the concerned parties, namely the families, and determine a solution that ensured the wellbeing of the child.
Responding to brief follow-up questions, Ms. Jamhouri said that there was still no specific law or decree specifically on domestic violence, and today efforts were underway in civil society, with support from the Ministry for Social Affairs and the National Commission for Women's Affairs to ensure that a law was enacted. A lot of work was underway on this at the national level. With regards to homosexuality, the Penal Code punished these practices; any "unnatural intercourse" was punished by a year's imprisonment. A recommendation issued by the Sub-Committee of the Court of Justice had been handed down to the effect that this article should be over-turned. The marital regime ensured that the property of the woman went to the woman on divorce - even during marriage, the husband had no influence over how the wife spent her money. On cohabitation, the main rule in Lebanon was the marital relationship - if two people wished to live together without a legal contract, that was up to them, and the law did not penalize this relationship. If one partner died, the survivor inherited nothing from the deceased partner.
LEILA AZOURI JAMHOURI, Member of the Executive Board of the Lebanese National Commission for Women's Affairs, in concluding remarks, said the Committee was thanked for having considered the report and being concerned for the situation of Lebanese women. Lebanon had presented several reports within a very short time, and would take heed of the Committee's recommendations and conclusions, hoping that the latter would convince the decision-makers in Lebanon to take a central interest in women's issues. However, the delegation did not wish to be unfair to Lebanon and to its institutions, as these were undergoing difficult circumstances, and it was hoped that once peace was established, the dialogue could continue.
DUBRAVKA SIMONOVIC, Chairperson of the Committee, in concluding remarks, said many Committee members had acknowledged the difficult situation in Lebanon. Lebanon would receive a set of concluding comments, and it was important to note that previous comments were still relevant, as they had not yet been implemented, and it was important for the Government to consider these. Lebanon should continue with ratification of the Optional Protocol, and withdrawal of reservations. There was good cooperation between the Government and non-governmental organizations, but full partnership should be ensured, as well as with United Nations agencies in the country, in order to fully implement and utilize the Convention.
Source: United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women