Environmental Laws in Lebanon
(Beirut) – Lebanese Justice Minister Salim Jreissati has released a list of prosecutors and investigating judges for environmental cases, Human Rights Watch said today. Residents can now file complaints and report violations to the Environmental Prosecutor`s Office in their governorate. National and international NGOs support the executive branch of the Lebanese government in the implementation of environmental policy. At the national level, more than fifty environmentally-related NGOs work with CEECs, including the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon and the Green Line Association.  International non-governmental organisations, in particular UN-based bodies, fund CEEC environmental initiatives and monitor compliance with international law at national level. “The next six months provide an opportunity for the municipality to work with the Ministry of Environment to build on the summary waste management strategy adopted in January,” said Fakih. “For the long-term strategy to be effective, it must take into account the concerns and expertise of local communities, as well as public health and environmental experts.” Although the Water Code was amended in October 2020, it continued the same old problem of adding another layer to the old water texts without completely replacing the old ones. Therefore, the Lebanese government should conduct a comprehensive review of all water laws to eliminate anything obsolete and irrelevant. In addition, contradictory or contradictory texts should be reformulated in order to achieve the necessary alignment. An NWSS review process began in June 2019 and aims to integrate the wastewater strategy into the new NWSS and address climate change. The judiciary plays a key role in ensuring compliance with the law by investigating complaints from residents and the Ministry of Environment and punishing violations appropriately.
Residents who notice environmental violations such as open landfilling and waste incineration can fill out a complaint form set up by the Ministry of Environment and submit the complaint either by mail or in person to the relevant environmental prosecutors in their governorate. The balance of power within a country economically governed by a laissez-faire regime and politically governed by a confessional power-sharing system is at the origin of the maintenance of this legal pluralism in water management. The deep (sectarian) political abysses lead to an institutional blockade that complicates a political situation structurally characterized by communitarianism, the weight of dignitaries and the agreement between business circles and the political class. This dysfunctional sectarian system hinders rational policy-making and has enabled a culture of corruption and waste. With the different forms of appropriation, commodification and privatization of water, water in Lebanon is poorly managed at all levels. Meanwhile, political agreements, nepotism, clientelism and lengthy legal proceedings have led some to question whether the systematic impoverishment of the water sector could be part of a pre-privatization scenario. Many post-war politicians were warlords or militiamen who resorted to patronage, bribery, corruption and conflicts of interest. They have turned a country in ruins into a country heavily burdened by debt servicing. The result is a dysfunctional sectarian system that is unable to provide the basic water supply to the population, even though the country has been living beyond its means for three decades.
The 20 years of water reform have included the development of a plan, a strategy, the enactment of new administrative laws and legislation; However, many of them have been developed in parallel, often ignoring each other, and many have not updated or updated existing laws, texts or plans. The majority were either donor-oriented or followed a market-oriented policy framework, without considering priorities for measuring water demand in different sectors such as domestic, agriculture, industry and tourism and, more recently, the water needs of refugees. The subject of groundwater versus surface water has also been ignored in many texts, laws and plans. After all, none of these texts has provided a space where the people who are the real beneficiaries of the funds can make their voices heard and express their opinions on this issue. Over the past five years, Lebanon has seen an increase in popular demand for participation or monitoring of public expenditures, policies, plans, reforms and projects, particularly in the water sector. Collective movements have been initiated to express their concern about the construction of dams: in particular the #nodam campaign against the Qaysamani project and the Lebanese eco-movement against many other dams, and in particular the Bisri project, to name but a few. Others addressed the issue of privatization of water supply (e.g. the #waternotforsale campaign against the Blue Gold private initiative). Over time, Mesopotamian, Roman, Ottoman and French water laws came together, which lived in concert with Muslim customs and practices and traditional Arab social arrangements for water in Lebanon. The current water laws in Lebanon appear as a superposition of texts, the coexistence of regulations of different inspirations (Metral 1982). French and Ottoman civil law, as well as codified and Sharia-based customary law, form the basis of current Lebanese water laws.