Lebanese Bill of Rights (draft v6e)

WE, the People of Lebanon, having endured hardship and humiliation from a divided, unjust, and dysfunctional system, have united to reconcile and overcome our sad past, eliminate deficiencies and abuses, strengthen our state, and renovate our nation. In so doing, we strive towards a brighter and more prosperous future for all. WE hereby demand the following inherent rights be asserted immediately, serving as legally binding reaffirmations or amendments to all those provided by our Constitution:

1st Right: Reasserting the People’s Power through Timely, Direct, Democratic Elections and Referenda

WE, the Lebanese people including our Diaspora, reassert ourselves as the sole source and beneficiary of all power conferred to the Lebanese state. WE demand timely elections and the right for any citizen above the age of 18 to vote. WE demand a direct vote for the highest office in the land. Furthermore, WE demand to hold a national referendum, if 10% or more of our population demands it.

2nd Right: Running for Public Office, Transparency, and Extensions

WE assert the right for any Lebanese citizen regardless of gender, race, disability, or religion to run unconditionally for any public office in any recognized Lebanese jurisdiction. WE demand the right to have qualified public representatives compete over positions of power; and that those WE democratically elect, including parliament, operate in full transparency with public voting records. Abuse of vested power and trust, will henceforth render such representation void. The extension of terms to any public office shall not be allowed without holding a referendum in the respective jurisdiction, to be passed by absolute majority.

3rd Right: Freedom of Information, Accountability, Handling of Public Funds, and National Debt

WE demand freedom of information from our government and full and timely accountability in the handling of our sovereign accounts. A government unable to provide a budget within the legal time frame is considered expired. Further acquisition of national debt shall be permitted only if the people approve it through referendum. WE assert the right to prosecute any public official for gross incompetence, corruption or the mishandling of public assets, removing any statute of limitations.

4th Right:  Protection of Private Property, Privacy and Free Expression

WE demand that our private and intellectual property be protected and not subjected to breach or misappropriation. Furthermore, WE demand that our privacy be respected physically and virtually; and reassert our right for free and unimpeded expression.

5th Right: People’s Right to Education, Social Services, Economic Opportunity, Fair Wages, and Just Taxation

WE demand the right to comprehensive excellence in public education. WE demand to live in dignity and assert our right for adequate healthcare, medication, and social security that provide us peace of mind. WE demand fair wages and for dues to be paid on time. WE reassert our rights for social justice based on equitable economic opportunity all over the nation, regardless of race, gender, disability, or religion. Furthermore, WE demand just tariffing and taxation, commensurate to the people’s economic constraints.

6th Right: Uninterrupted Basic Services, Transportation, and Infrastructure Provided at a Reasonable Cost

WE demand the right to receive basic services such as electricity, clean water, sewage treatment, trash collection, mail service, and telecommunications consistently, without interruption, and at reasonable cost. WE demand the right to have nationwide public transportation and infrastructure, reaching all corners of the country.

7th Right: People’s Right to Clean and Sanitized Environment, Public Parks, Beaches and Historic Monuments

WE demand the right to live in a clean and sanitized environment all over Lebanon—be it in the air, on land, or in the sea—assuring us of a healthy sustenance. WE reassert our right to enjoy Lebanon’s public parks, beaches, and historic monuments. WE demand the state reclaim and conserve all our public heritage; and that no concession shall be given that takes away the People’s unfettered access.

8th Right: Equal Personal Status Treatment Regardless of Gender, Race or Religion

WE reassert the right of equal treatment regardless of gender, race, disability, or religion; and WE demand that it be applied to all personal status issues including, but not be limited to, civil contracts and citizenship.

9th Right: Improper Seizure, Due Process, and Legal Review

WE demand that any legal proceedings against any citizen be held in civilian courts and processed within a reasonable time frame. WE reassert that no person shall be held against their free will or have their property seized without due process. Furthermore, WE demand the right as individuals to appeal to the Constitutional Council when faced with a law that runs counter to our rights.

10th Right: Judicial Representation of People and Swift Implementation of Laws

WE, the people, demand the right for direct representation within the judiciary through elected judges, juries, ombudsmen, and public trials. WE demand that our laws be executed by the state in a reasonable time frame; and WE retain the right as individuals or groups for legal action against any relevant authority found to be denying, improperly implementing, or breaking the law.

11th Right: To Live in Justice, Security, and Peace under State Protection

WE demand to live in peace and security and that justice be served on all 10,452 sq. km of Lebanese territory, under the full protection of the Lebanese state. No foreign armies shall be allowed on Lebanese soil without the People’s express consent through referendum. WE, the Citizens, retain the right of self-defense in case our state legitimately fails to provide us such security.

12th Right: Collective Rights shall be of, by and for the People of Lebanon

No law, belief, or common practice shall curtail, abridge, or infringe on our collective rights. Any and all powers not enumerated or provisioned to the state shall remain uniquely of, amendable only by, and enacted solely for the People of Lebanon.

Wissam Yafi The Author of the Lebanese Citizens Bill of Rights

Mr. Yafi  Co Founder of TTV was born and raised in Lebanon. Educated and living in the US (Washington, DC) for more than two decades, he obtained economic development expertise and training from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government having studied under Jeffrey Sachs, Dany Rodrik, Jeffrey Frankel, Iqbal Qadir, and Michael Porter. He has been writing on subjects ranging from Middle East politics to economics, to technology policy and has published Op-Eds in the Middle East through newspapers and outlets such as The Daily Star and Al Jazeera.

A technologist by trade, Mr. Yafi has travelled extensively- and within the MENA region from the Mashreq to the Maghreb giving him the opportunity to meet leaders, policy makers, academicians, religious figures, and citizens at large. A field comparative study conducted for Harvard University on the MENA region gave him deeper insight into the regional needs and wants, while matching it with constraints and realities. The study received recognition at the Kennedy School of Government’s Center for International Development. More recently and running an E-learning organization helping governments, non-profits, and businesses around the world reach their audiences has also allowed Wissam to live extensively in Latin America and travel around Africa, Europe and South Asia.

Mr. Yafi’s first book, Inevitable Democracy in the Arab World: New Realities in an Ancient Land, was published by Palgrave MacMillan in the spring of 2012. It was followed by A Decade of Turmoil and Hope: An Expat’s Writings on Lebanon and the Arab World (2000-2012), published by Morisken Verlag in August/summer of 2013. Mr. Yafi has been invited to lecture about democracy, the Arab World, the role technology is playing in the developing world and the Middle East and other themes at venues such as Harvard’s Kennedy School, Georgetown University, Stanford University, George Mason University, American University of Beirut, Carnegie Endowment for Peace, and other venues.

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