Lebanon: UN expert warns of “failed state” amid widespread poverty

The report follows a visit to Lebanon and an investigation into the root causes and impacts of the worst economic and financial crisis in the country’s history.

“Impunity, corruption and structural inequalities have been integrated into a venal political and economic system designed to frustrate those at the bottom, but it doesn’t have to be,” said De Schutter, an independent expert appointed by the Rights Council. United Nations human beings.

“The political establishment has known for years of the impending cataclysm, but has done little to prevent it. Well-connected individuals have even moved their money out of the country, facilitated by a loophole that allowed capital to flow out of the country. Truth and responsibility must be sought within the framework of human rights, “she added.

With the legislative elections scheduled for May 15, the UN expert called on the next government to put accountability and transparency at the “heart and center of its actions”, starting with the public disclosure of its finances and conflicts of interest and asking central bank officials Do the same.

The country considered a “failed state

Lebanon’s economic crisis began in 2019 and today the country is considered “a failed state”, said the UN expert. He cited current estimates that put four out of five people in poverty. “Political ties to the banking system are pervasive, underscoring serious concerns about conflicts of interest in managing the economy and people’s savings,” said De Schutter.

“There is no inherent responsibility in the latest bailout package, essential to restore the lost confidence of the population and the financial sector. We are talking about the national wealth that belongs to the public in Lebanon and that has been squandered through decades of mismanagement and misinvestment by the government and the central bank, “she added.

“Central Bank policies, in particular, have led to a downward spiral of money, the devastation of the economy, the annihilation of permanent savings and the collapse of the population into poverty. The conclusion of my report is that the Central Bank has caused a flagrant violation of international human rights law by the Lebanese state “He said again. “Political leaders are completely out of touch with reality, including the desperation they have created by destroying people’s lives. Lebanon is also one of the most unequal countries in the world, but leaders seem to ignore it at best and feel comfortable with it at worst ”.

Olivier De Schutter said there is a serious lack of robust social protection mechanisms. “As it stands, it’s a system that protects the rich while leaving poor families to fend for themselves,” he said. “Public services, including electricity, education and health care, have been gutted, with one state heavily subsidizing the private provision of these services. More than a quarter of all public spending on education goes to the private sector, which exacerbates inequalities, does not lead to better education and leads to higher school dropout rates among children from poor families ”.

“More than half of the families report that their child has had to skip meals and hundreds of thousands of children are not in school,” he added. “If the situation does not improve immediately, an entire generation of children will be sacrificed.”

The UN expert criticized decades of underinvestment in the public health system and the government’s partial “shameful” abolition of subsidies to essential medicines. “There is a severe shortage of medicines and the prices of medicines for chronic diseases have at least quadrupled, a near-guaranteed death sentence for those who need them most,” said the UN expert on poverty.

Poverty doubled between 2019 and 2021

Despite the lack of official poverty data – which the government does not systematically collect, partly due to the absence of a census since 1932 – estimates suggest that multidimensional poverty nearly doubled between 2019 and 2021, hitting 82 % of the population last year.

The UN report reveals that Palestinian and Syrian refugees face dire living conditions in Lebanon, with 88% of them living in minimal survival conditions. Almost half of Syrian families have food problems. “The dire situation of refugees is the direct consequence of the administrative and legal measures imposed by the state, which continues to marginalize them and accuse them of their inability to provide basic goods and services to the population, whether it be education, decent work, alcohol, water or electricity, ”De Schutter said.

“If trust is to be restored for a better future, the government must strengthen the Central Inspectorate, free the National Anti-Corruption Commission from potential political interference, ensure independent control of the Electricity du Liban and strengthen accountability and transparency in the plan of shooting, “he added.

The UN expert called on the new government to commit to improving its human rights situation in all areas by reducing inequalities, fighting corruption and impunity, building strong social protection, education and health systems and resilient and placing public interests above private sector profits.


Special Speakers and Independent Experts are part of the so-called Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the generic name for the Council’s independent assessment and monitoring mechanisms that deal with country-specific situations or thematic issues in all regions of the United Nations. world. Special procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not part of the UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and serve on an individual basis.

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