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The Government and Politics of Lebanon

Second Edition

Imad Salamey

The Government and Politics of Lebanon, Second Edition describes the special attributes of Lebanese politics and the functions of its confessional state. It aims to contribute to the reader’s understanding of contemporary Lebanese politics, consensus building, and government. It stimulates discussion concerning the nature of consociationalism as a power sharing arrangement for a divided society. The book captures the complexity of Lebanese politics by revealing the challenges embedded in the management of plurality, including institutional paralysis and system stagnations. The second edition features new and expanded chapters that pay particular attention to state’s adaptations to post-Arab Spring politics. It expands the analysis on the performance of the Lebanese consociational state in light of turbulent regional environment and the various repercussions associated with regional conflict. It is divided into several parts. The first introduces the particular form and foundations of Lebanese consociationalism and provides an elaborate description of its special features. The second part explains the different rules of the game as institutionalized in the country’s international and domestic power sharing arrangements. It describes the international politics of Lebanon and the influence exerted by regional powers in shaping its domestic affairs. It explains the manifestation of domestic parties and electoral systems in the power distribution among the country’s different sectarian and ethnic groups. It analyzes the political economy of communitarian politics. The third part focuses on the contemporary powers and functions of the different branches of government as well as their institutional expression of sectarian interests. The fourth part of the book places Lebanese consociationalism in light of contemporary regional turmoil and describes state’s responsiveness in mitigating and managing conflicts, particularly those associated with the spillover from the Syrian conflict.
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13. Lebanese Judicial Branch


The justice sector is vital for a healthy democracy. Its institutionalization, in light of the Arab Spring, has proven to be critical for a smooth political democratic transition in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. Its absence can lead to catastrophic consequences. The promotion of justice under various principles such as human rights, citizenship, fairness, equal application of the law, economic and political freedoms, and combating corruption constitutes the fundamental foundation of civic culture and democratic tradition. The role of the judiciary in Lebanon is also critical because of the population’s diversity and complexity. It can offer pathways for arbitration and dispute mediation toward conflict resolution or transformation, hence undermining extremism and violent confrontations. Justice is the essence of political stability and coexistence in a plural society.

This chapter examines the Lebanese legal system in detail, concentrating on the types of legal jurisdictions, regular courts, special courts, and councils. The separation of the judiciary and executive power is analyzed. Attention is also drawn to the Bar Association of Lebanon, legal education and training, the Internal Security Forces, and General Security.

The Legal System

The Lebanese legal system is a combination of Ottoman law, Canon law, the Napoleonic Code, and civil law. The Constitution of Lebanon, adopted in 1926 and amended in 1990, guarantees the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers among the three branches of government. The Taef Agreement of 1989, which is incorporated by proclamation into the Lebanese Constitution, provides...

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