record of the 289th meeting : Lebanon. 29/05/96. CRC/C/SR.289.
UNITED NATIONS Convention on the Rights of the Child
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GENERAL CRC/C/SR.289 29
COMMITTEE ON THE
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
Monday, 20 May 1996, at 3 p.m.
This record is
subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted
in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a
memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They
should be sent within one week of the date of this document
to the Official Records Editing Section, room E.4108, Palais des
Any corrections to the records of the
meetings of the Committee at this session will be consolidated in
a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the
was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
REPORTS OF STATES PARTIES (agenda item 4)
report of Lebanon (CRC/C/8/Add.23)
the invitation of the Chairperson, Mr. Moallem, Ms. Georgiadis and
Mr. Khalil (Lebanon) took places at the Committee table.
Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon) said that the Higher Council
for Childhood, of which he was Secretary-General, had been set up
on 6 April 1994 by the Council of Ministers, to meet the needs of
a modern developed State. It was chaired by the Minister of Social
Affairs and included representatives of all bodies working with
children in both the private and the public sectors, of
international organizations and of all the relevant ministries.
All representatives had equal voting powers. The Council's work,
though subsidized by the Ministry of Social Affairs, was
undertaken by the private sector. Lebanon had prepared a fuller
report than that already submitted, which it would pass on to the
Committee in due course.
CHAIRPERSON invited the Lebanese delegation to reply to
the questions on the Committee's list of issues (CRC/C.11/WP.7) to
be taken up in connection with the consideration of the report.
Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon), referring to the status of
the Convention in the event of a conflict with national
legislation, said that since 1993 all international instruments
signed by his country took priority over national legislation.
Secondly, the study reviewing the compliance of national
legislation with the provisions and principles of the Convention
had confirmed that all those principles were embodied in Lebanon's
legislation. Implementation, however, was harder to achieve
because of lack of resources. The Higher Council was particularly
anxious to update the provisions relating to the minimum working
age: currently, an eight-year-old could form part of the labour
force. Consideration of the matter by the legislature had been
temporarily halted in view of the recent Israeli massacre in his
country, but the hope was that the minimum working age would be
raised to 14.
5. Ms. GEORGIADIS
(Lebanon), Director of Social Services at the Ministry of Social
Affairs, said, in response to the question about the collection of
statistical data, that with the assistance of the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), a study of 70,000 families had been
carried out to learn more about the problems faced by Lebanon with
regard to illiteracy, unemployment and child labour. Of those
families, 7,000 would form the basis for a study of maternal and
child health. The Ministry of Social Affairs was also conducting
research into the number of handicapped children and adults; the
data collected in 1990 were out of date.
KHALIL (Lebanon) said, in relation to the "possibility
of establishing a national institution, such as an ombudsman for
children, to further assist in the monitoring of the application
of the rights of the child", that the Higher Council for
Childhood had been established precisely to act as intermediary
between children and the private sector. Further measures were
still under consideration.
7. With regard to the
implementation of article 4 of the Convention to the "maximum
extent of ... available resources", he said that the
Government had recognized the principles of the Convention. The
country had, however, undergone 20 years of war, following which
resources that should have gone to social services had gone to
rebuilding the economy and infrastructure. The situation had been
made worse by the recent Israeli aggression against his country,
which had caused extensive damage.
GEORGIADIS (Lebanon) said that the Government's policy was
to decentralize social services. Headquarters would remain in
Beirut, but the number of service centres around the country would
be raised to bring them within the reach of everybody.
Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon) said that measures to teach
professional groups, decision-makers and Government officials
about the Convention included round tables and training courses,
the results of which were published. A similar course, lasting 18
months, was planned, in association with the United Nations
Children's Fund, to teach children and teachers the principles of
the Convention. As for publicizing the Convention, several
meetings, notably round tables, had been held in the current year,
with the participation of the private sector, dealing with the
environment, the family, disabled children and orphans. Features
had also appeared on television, the radio and other media. A
projected booklet on the Convention had regrettably not yet been
published for lack of funds. A report by the Higher Council on the
family environment and alternative care, to which it attached
particular importance, had been circulated to all communities and
all relevant representatives of the private sector, who in turn
had disseminated it still more widely. Non-governmental
organizations had also received copies of the report.
Mr. HAMMARBERG asked for more detailed replies to
the list of issues. Specifically, he wished to know whether the
provisions of the Convention had been invoked in court; such
information gave a useful indication of how far the Convention had
been incorporated into the judicial system. While welcoming the
various surveys that had been carried out, he said that the aim
should be to establish a systematic method of obtaining such data
and he wondered whether that had been achieved, through either the
education system or the health system. Statistics, including
disaggregated data, were essential.
regard to the national strategy for monitoring the implementation
of the Convention, the establishment of the Higher Council was
clearly an important step, but the Government itself should act
more forcefully to make the Convention a reality; non-governmental
organizations could not be expected to carry an excessive burden.
With regard to the resources allocated to the rights of the child,
he reiterated the Committee's concern in the light of Mr. Khalil's
statement. He also asked for more information about the nature of
the "fuller" report mentioned by Mr. Khalil.
Mrs. EUFEMIO asked for more information on the
monitoring of the implementation of the Convention. She wished to
know by whom it was monitored and what the monitoring process
involved at grass-roots level. She suggested that the Higher
Council should extend the existing UNDP study to cover children in
difficult circumstances, such as refugee children, children who
had been abandoned and those in conflict with the law. She also
asked whether the country had enough doctors, social workers and
teachers. If not, she wondered what remedial measures were
envisaged. Would plans and targets be set up? How would the
necessary funds be raised, and how soon? Given that resources were
currently insufficient, she wondered whether the Government had
considered employing paramedical and other social workers who had
attended short training courses.
KARP said she would welcome further information concerning
the status of the Higher Council for Childhood. In that
connection, she would like to know how the Council reacted to
information provided by NGOs.
15. Lastly, she
asked whether under the Constitution individuals could apply to
the courts regarding the infringement of their rights.
Miss MASON regretted the absence of written replies to
the issues raised by the Committee. She too would like to know
whether there was any difference between the parliamentary
committee and the Higher Council for Childhood and whether the
former had been superseded by the Higher Council. She also
wondered how, if international treaties took precedence over
national legislation, children aged 8 could be allowed to work
since that would seem to be inconsistent with the Convention, and
with ILO Convention No. 138.
17. She wondered
what portion of the national budget was earmarked for human
development, in view of the statement that most of the country's
resources were being devoted to developing the economic
18. She would also like to know
what consideration was being given to the establishment of a
national institution such as an ombudsman for children.
Mr. KOLOSOV, noting that it would soon be five years
since the entry into force of the Convention in Lebanon, said he
would like to know whether, in the opinion of the delegation, the
Convention had been instrumental in improving the status of
children in Lebanon during that period.
also wondered whether the religious leaders and communities
involved in the implementation of the Convention were aware of the
existence of the State's obligation with respect to all the
children in the territory of Lebanon.
GEORGIADIS (Lebanon) said that there was a sufficient
number of doctors in Lebanon, but that they were usually in the
capital and other major cities. Some of the projects concerning
children would require a larger number of social workers and a
training centre had been set up for that purpose before the war.
It had been demolished during the war and was currently being
rebuilt. Her department trained social workers who would return to
their home areas once they had completed their training.
Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon) said that juvenile courts had
begun to adopt the principle of giving the Convention on the
Rights of the Child precedence over national legislation.
With regard to the problem of the lack of statistics, he said that
the Ministry of Social Affairs and the United Nations Population
Fund were conducting a joint statistical study, the results of
which should be available shortly and would provide a sound
statistical basis for dealing with social problems.
With regard to budget appropriations, he said that, while great
importance was attached to human development in Lebanon no
Government in the world would concentrate on programmes for
implementing the Convention and neglect other sectors.
The Higher Council for Childhood had not replaced any institution.
Under its rules of procedure, priority was always given to joint
activities with the private sector. With regard to the submission
of reports by NGOs to the Council, he said that the Council
welcomed any report from the private sector which, together with
NGOs, was represented on the Council.
parliamentary committee still existed and dealt with questions of
child labour. In that regard, he said that a proposal had been
made to raise the minimum age at which young persons could enter
the labour force from 8 to 14 years of age. In that connection, he
noted that article 32, 2 (a) of the Convention did not mention any
specific age for admission to employment, but left it up to each
State to indicate the minimum age it considered appropriate.
With regard to the question of financial support, he said that the
provision of compulsory free education to all Lebanese was being
hampered by the fact that many schools had been destroyed during
the war. The situation had been made worse by the recent Israeli
aggression in the south of the country.
HAMMARBERG said that although the representative of
Lebanon had been correct to point out that article 32 of the
Convention did not specify the minimum age for children to enter
employment, it did pointedly refer to the "relevant
provisions of other international instruments", which surely
referred to instruments such as ILO Convention No. 138.
He agreed that in the case of Lebanon, the heritage of 20 years of
war as well as the impact of the recent bombing attacks, which had
killed many children, should not be underestimated and that,
without adequate infrastructure, it would be difficult to
implement the rights of children in Lebanon. However, the
interests of children did not seem to be high on the list of
priorities of the decision-makers in Lebanon. He asked what
specific measures were being taken in favour of children. He
accepted that there were problems in getting reliable statistics,
but wanted to know if children's development was getting a fair
share of the budget. He also wondered if the problem of sharing
responsibility for children between the State and the private
sector had been discussed systematically.
asked if the Higher Council published annual reports, as a
straightforward description of the situation in Lebanon would be
of great help in identifying problems and stimulating the search
31. Mrs. KARP asked if the
elimination of the word "illegitimate" from identity
cards had been the result of action by the Higher Council, and
what the priorities of the Council were. She also asked how the
possible conflict between pluralism and personal status was being
resolved in, say, the Muslim community, and whether infringements
of individual rights were corrected by constitutional courts.
32. Mr. KOLOSOV asked whether religious
leaders were aware of the Convention, and what achievements could
be pointed to as evidence of its usefulness in the five years
since its entry into force. He asked if any particular articles
had proved useful in improving the lives of children or whether,
on the contrary, societal attitudes had hindered implementation of
33. Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon)
said that Lebanon had not ratified ILO Convention No. 138,
although it had ratified other ILO conventions on, for example,
dangerous maritime work.
34. Despite financial
pressures, the Lebanese budget did benefit children, for example,
through the building of welfare and medical centres and 100 new
35. There was no conflict in the
distribution of tasks between the public and private sectors.
Lebanon had a long history of successful private initiatives,
which included the provision of assistance to the victims of
Israeli aggression. The Higher Council also worked with both the
public and private sectors, for example, in helping the 50,000
people displaced as a result of the recent Israeli attacks.
He said that the Higher Council did produce an annual report and
he undertook to send the two available reports to the Committee
immediately upon returning to Beirut. The overriding priority of
the Council was to protect children from the dangers of
delinquency. Vagrant street children were a major problem, which
was being addressed by various civil associations, as well as by
the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Council. Other priorities
included the prohibition and limitation of child labour and the
building of more crèches.
37. Lebanon did
not have a constitutional court. It did, however, have a
Constitutional Council, made up of senior magistrates.
All religious leaders and schools had been given copies of the
Convention. There was no conflict between religious freedoms and
the operation of the civil courts.
instances of the implementation of the Convention were described
in the annual reports of the Higher Council, including the
organization of round tables on ecological education and on the
family. In order to deal with the problem of child labour, the
number of inspectors had been greatly increased. The Council was
also working on the problem of the economic exploitation of
children. On the question of ensuring that standards were
established by competent authorities the Supreme Council had been
set up by the Lebanese Government for that very purpose.
Lebanon was not able to provide sufficient resources for
education, health and employment, but it was trying to allocate a
fair proportion of the available budget to social needs. Money had
also to be found to extend the roads and infrastructure to remote
areas; land would be expropriated, and foreign organizations
allowed to build roads and recover their investment by tolls. Any
technical assistance from organizations such as UNICEF would be
welcome; unfortunately, as Lebanon was no longer considered a case
of emergency now that the war had ended, UNICEF's budget
appropriation for the country had been cut. The World Food
Programme (WFP) had done much to help orphans and children in
difficult situations but that help was due to end in 1996, at a
time when it was still much needed. The United Nations Development
Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) also had projects in progress, to assist children
in a family environment and avoid putting them in institutions.
Referring to questions 9 and 10 of the list of issues concerning
the definition of the child, he said that, under Lebanese law, the
age of reason was 13 years, the age of sexual majority was 20, the
minimum age for civil rights was 18 and for political rights.
The minimum legal ages for marriage and inheritance varied
according to the customs of each community. There was no minimum
legal age for owning property. A judge could grant civil rights to
a person under 18 years of age, for example to allow a child of 16
to manage a parent's business. Those ages were the same for boys
43.A child under the age of seven
could not be held criminally responsible. Between the ages of 7
and 18, children could not be punished in the same way as adults,
but were subject to social protection measures and discipline:
funds were needed for the rehabilitation institutions used for
44. Mr. KOLOSOV asked why
the separation of a child from parents was considered an offence
punishable by imprisonment. Was the law intended to punish
abductors? He found the age of seven far too low as a minimum age
for criminal responsibility. If a child of eight or nine committed
a crime and was sent to a rehabilitation institution, did that
amount to separation from the child's parents and, if so, would it
somehow be punishable by imprisonment?
KARP asked whether the Higher Council for Childhood was
taking steps to amend the Personal Status Law to standardize ages
for marriage and inheritance in Lebanon. What was being done to
change attitudes towards early marriage?
MASON said that there seemed to be great confusion with
regard to the definition of the child in Lebanon, not least in
paragraphs 5 (b) (ii) and (iii) of the report. The delegation
should clarify the definition in all the areas mentioned therein.
It should also explain the roles of the Higher Council for
Childhood and the parliamentary committee mentioned in paragraph
14 of the report and whether one took precedence over the other in
47. Mr. KOLOSOV asked
whether Palestinian boys were considered to be under the
jurisdiction of Lebanon and what rules governed the conscription
of Palestinian and Lebanese boys respectively. He also asked for
clarification of paragraph 6 of the report of Lebanon which, far
from clarifying the definition of the child, made it more
confusing by introducing the concepts of juvenile, adolescent and
48. Mrs. EUFEMIO asked at
what age children were entitled to freedom of opinion and whether,
in the event of their parents' divorce, children were allowed to
choose which parent they would live with.
KHALIL (Lebanon), replying to the question on the removal
of children from their parents, explained that the person
responsible for removing the child would be punished, not the
50. With regard to questions on the age
of criminal responsibility, only children over 12 years of age
were sent to institutions for minors. Efforts were made to keep
children between 7 and 12 with their families. Social workers
visited child offenders to monitor their behaviour and
development. Similar monitoring and supervision was provided for
children between 12 and 15 years.
51. The Civil
Code of Lebanon stipulated that majority was attained when a
person reached the age of 18, with marriage the only exception to
that provision. Religious freedom was guaranteed pursuant to
article 10 of the Constitution of Lebanon. Religious communities
were therefore at liberty to determine at what age a child could
marry. Lebanon did not plan to introduce legislation to curb
religious plurality. Civil marriage did not exist in Lebanon.
However, under private international law, if Lebanese citizens
married outside the country, the marriage would be recognized.
According to Lebanese legislation, young people could undergo
medical examinations before marriage, and certain communities and
associations offered programmes to prepare them for marriage.
52. The Higher Council for Childhood and the
parliamentary committee worked together on such questions as
raising the minimum working age of children. They were not
designed to replace one another. The role of the committee, which
did not include non-governmental organizations (NGOs), was to
ensure that legislation on children was implemented.
Military service in Lebanon was not compulsory for children under
18 years of age, and children under 18 could not join the army,
which was higher than the age limit stipulated in the Convention.
Military service was compulsory only for Lebanese citizens, which
therefore excluded Palestinians. Not all legislative provisions
applied to Palestinians, as their presence in Lebanon was
54.A child was considered to be any
human being under the age of 18 years. However, the question of
whether a child of 8 years who was found guilty of stealing and a
child of 17 guilty of the same crime should be given the same
punishment had made it necessary to classify children further
according to age, as could be seen in paragraph 6 of the report.
The actual terms used, such as juvenile or adolescent, had no
legal weight and could be disregarded.
Article 13 of the Lebanese Constitution stated that every citizen
had the right to freedom of expression, which was in line with the
Convention. However, according to the Constitution, children under
16 did not have the right of association. The Higher Council for
Childhood was looking into the situation and would consult with
the Ministry of the Interior as to whether the age could be
56. In the event of the parents'
divorce, children could be consulted as to custody, although it
was the judge who ultimately decided, sometimes on the basis of a
social worker's report, whether the child should live with the
father or the mother.
57. Miss MASON,
referring to paragraph 14 of the report, asked what was meant by "vagrancy"
under Lebanese law and who would be targeted by the campaign.
58. Mr. HAMMARBERG asked for an
explanation of the situation of children who had been born in
Lebanon but who were not seen as Lebanese citizens and for
clarification as to the State's responsibilities toward
59. Mr. KHALIL
(Lebanon) said that vagrants were people who begged or sold
worthless objects in the street. Vagrancy was prohibited for both
adults and children, although children found guilty of vagrancy
received correctional punishment, while adults were given
60. Lebanese citizenship
was available to anyone whose father was Lebanese, or who had been
born on Lebanese territory.
61. Mr. MOALLEM
(Lebanon) said that education and health services were open to all
people in Lebanon, including Palestinian children.
rose at 6 p.m.