GENEVA, January 18, 2021 — Country speakers taking the floor today at the UN Human Rights Council showered praise on Lebanon during a mandatory human rights review that all UN member states undergo every five years. (See quotes below).
While the UN procedure known as Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is meant to scrutinize governments and thereby strengthen the basic rights and freedoms of their citizens, according to a UN Watch count, 89 out of 105 countries that spoke today at the UNHRC—85 percent—praised Lebanon for its human rights achievements.
This includes 54 countries that glowingly praised the corrupt Lebanese authorities for their human rights record, and another 35 that expressed some praise for the country’s alleged achievements.
“It is shameful that only a very small minority of 16 countries used their allotted 1 minute of speaking time to apply scrutiny to Lebanon’s human rights record,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva.
“The vast majority—85 percent of the countries that spoke—turned a blind eye to Lebanon’s torture by security forces, restrictions on freedoms of speech and press, high-level and widespread official corruption, criminalization of LGBTI status, and the government’s ties to Hezbollah, a terrorist group that helped slaughter tens of thousands of people in Syria,” said Neuer. “All of this was ignored.”
Below is a selection of the praise expressed by 85% of the UNHRC delegates:
Bahrain: “We commend the tireless efforts by Lebanon in all fields of human rights.”
China: “China appreciates Lebanon’s adoption of the National Strategy for the Prevention of Violent Extremism to combat terrorism and extremism, and protect people’s safety and human rights.”
Egypt: “We commend the progress achieved in the field of human rights despite economic and social difficulties, particularly in the light of COVID-19.”
India: “We commend the progress made by Lebanon since its second Universal Periodic Review, particularly its accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and the adoption of the National Strategy for Gender Equality.”
Iran: “Lebanon is fighting the pandemic despite all of the challenges, and this is commendable.”
Iraq: “We commend the measures taken on the legislative and political front to improve the human rights situation and welcome their efforts against extremism and terrorism.”
Jordan: “We hail Lebanon’s commitment to achieve and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Kuwait: “Lebanon is a pioneering state in the field of human rights.”
Pakistan: “Despite grappling with financial, political and security challenges, coupled with huge refugees’ influx, we appreciate Lebanon’s commitment to comply with its international human rights obligations.”
Palestine: “We have taken note of the efforts taken by the government [of Lebanon] to promote human rights, and we urge Lebanon to continue its efforts to develop practical mechanisms for the promotion of human rights.”
Russia: “Despite all the difficulties the country is facing, including an unprecedented influx of refugees and an ongoing terrorist threat, Lebanon has consistently and successfully strengthened its national human rights system.”
Turkey: “We commend that Lebanon takes on the responsibility of providing shelter for more than one million refugees. We recognize that this is a tremendous burden which should be shared by the international community.”
Venezuela: “We hail the progress of Lebanon in implementing recommendations, and we recognize the resilience of the Lebanese people in moving forward with optimism after the accident in the Beirut port.”