Helping Lebanese lawmakers achieve the sustainable development goals and uphold human rights

The Lebanese parliament building
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Helping Lebanese lawmakers achieve the sustainable development goals and uphold human rights
Two recent developments in the Lebanese Parliament show the progress being made in the country to achieve the sustainable development goals and uphold human rights.

WFD’s current programme in Lebanon is working to strengthen democratic mechanisms for reform, accountability and dialogue in the country. Through our activities, WFD aims to support the Lebanese Parliament to enact policy changes to improve compliance with international human rights standards and become more responsive and transparent it its response to citizens’ needs. The publication of the Parliamentary Annual Report on SDG’s and new draft law proposed by the Human Rights Committee are reasons to celebrate.

Upholding human rights

The language used to describe people matters. Degrading language often goes hand in hand with discrimination. As parliaments make progress towards upholding human rights standards, the language used in laws and policies often needs to be updated to reflect new standards and ambitions of equality and inclusion.

In Lebanon, WFD commissioned a legal expert to map instances of degrading language used in Lebanese legal texts, including the penal code. WFD presented the findings to the Lebanese Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, which drafted a law to amend the language based on the findings. Moreover, the committee agreed to extend the exercise to the entirety of the Lebanese legal framework.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

If the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), parliaments need to hold governments to account and check up on the progress they are making. That is why WFD Lebanon has also been building the awareness and knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals among MPs and members of the Parliamentary research centre through policy papers, a survey of the relevant legal framework in Lebanon and technical support to the committee.

The Parliamentary Research Centre is tasked with providing research to members and committees of the Lebanese parliament to enable them to better carry out their responsibilities to make and scrutinise laws.

WFD provided technical training to members of the Parliamentary Research Centre in Lebanon on how to report on progress made towards the sustainable development goals. Following training sessions in the summer of 2021, the Parliament’s Annual Report for the year analysed progress made towards social and environmental goals, the factors driving progress, and the implications of these findings in a much more in-depth and reader-friendly way than previous reports. This information will enable deeper and more effective scrutiny of the Government of Lebanon’s commitment to the SDGs.

As one researcher put it:

“Our reformulation of the Annual Parliamentary Report on the SDGs…is shifting from a number-crunching exercise to an analytical tool that carries out retrospection, and that gears towards improved legislation and monitoring – namely the two key functions that Parliament serves as a constitutional institution.”

These developments mark a step in the right direction to achieving the sustainable development goals and upholding human rights standards in Lebanon.