Constitutional Background

Lebanon is a multi-cultural state. The original constitution has been promulgated on 23 May 1926 and is the oldest operative constitution in the Arab world. Following the Taef Agreement, the major revision of 21 Sep 1990 introduced a Preamble and changed Articles 17-19, 22, 24, 30, 33, 44, 49, 52-58, 62, 64-66, 69-72, 77, 79, 80, 85, 86, and 95. The amendment transformed the presidential system to a more collegiate government dominated by the Council of Ministers; the new constitutional status is known as the 'Second Republic'.
A subsequent amendment changed Art. 49, but had only temporary effect. Therefore, the current ICL edition most probably reflects the status of June 2000. Nevertheless, we keep the last verfiable date as the official status date of this document.

History and News

  • 30 July 2006: For the second time, the Lebanese village of Qana is subject to severe bombing by the Israeli Army, killing at least 28 civilians.
  • 12 July 2006: Capturing of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah sparks "July War".
  • 14 Feb 2005: Bomb attack kills Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik el-Hariri.
  • 4 Aug 2004: The Lebanese Parliament amends article 49 of the Constitution in order to prorogate the president of the Republic's term for three years. This "exceptional" constitutional amendment is only applicable to the actual president. However, it is not the first time that presidential elections are avoided by way of "exceptional" constitutional amendment.
  • 27 May 2004: In Beirut's poorest suburbs, the Lebanese army opened fire at the participants of a general strike against the economic situation, killing 5 and wounding several.
  • 13 Aug 2003: UNIFIL asks the Israeli military to respect the UN-drawn frontier and Hizbullah again opens fire on Israeli fighter jets.
  • 10 Aug 2003: During cross-border attacks between Hizbullah and Israel, a teenage boy is killed in Shlomi, Northern Israel. Hizbullah claims it was anti-aircraft fire meant to hit an Israeli warplane violating Lebanese airspace. Israel responds by destroying a Hizbullah cannon with an air strike in South Lebanon and by breaking the sound barrier over Beirut for the first time since 2000.
  • {\tab}Spring 2003: Syria withdraws its troops from Lebanon. After having pulled out its troops of Beirut in 2001 and of Mount Lebanon in 2002, Syria retreas its troops from the North.
  • 4 March 2002: By his "historic" and exceptionnal visit to Lebanon by air, the first of its kind in over 30 years, the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, recognizes the Lebanese state entity. By this occasion, the Higher Lebanese-Syrian Council was to convene for the first time in Lebanon and - from now on - is supposed meet each year, as stipulated in the Ta'if accord.
  • 11 Dec 2000: Severe discussions among Lebanese political groups about the Syrian military presence and economic influence in Lebanon may have also led to the release of 54 Lebanese detainees out of Syrian prisons.
  • 7 Nov 2000: The vote of confidence accomplishes the formation of the Lebanese Government. During the discussion of the Cabinet's general statement of policy, parliament sees harsh disputes about the syrian (military) presence for the first time in 25 years.
  • 22 Oct 2000: Arab leaders at the extraordinary Arab summit in Cairo recognize Lebanese sovereignity over the Shebaa farms, which are still occupied by Israel. Since the Israelian retreat of South Lebanon, Hizbullah and the Lebanese government claim these farms to be part of UN-resolution 425: being Lebanese territory, Israel still has to restitute them to Lebanon. For Israel, the Shebaa-farms belong to UN-resolution 242. Therefore, Israel argues, they are Syrian territory and do not have to be returned to Lebanon.
  • 8 Oct 2000: After months of declaring that war is not over until all Lebanese detainees are released from Israelian prisons, Hizbullah fighters capture three Israeli soldiers at the Lebanese/Israeli border: The Lebanese detainees in Israelian prisons as well as the palestinian refugees living in camps on Lebanese soil (300 000 to 350 000) both link peace for Lebanon to the "palestinian problem".
  • 27 Aug/ 3 Sep 2000: Parliamentary elections lead to the victory for druze leader Walid Joumblatt and Rafic Hariri, both now seen as opposing the "regime". Starting with these elections, the call of right-wing Christians and Walid Joumblatt for a syrian withdrawl from Lebanon grows stronger.
  • 25 May 2000: Israeli troups leave South Lebanon.
  • 18 April 1996: Israel's bombardment of a UN-compound at Qana kills over 100 Lebanese refugees.
  • Summer 1992: First legislative elections in 20 years. Its results lead to a triumvirat of power between the president of the Republic, the Prime minister and the president of Parliament, thereby diverting constitutional power from the Council of ministers and Parliament.
  • 21 Sep 1990: Major constitutional revision, leading to the 'Second Republic'.
  • 1989: The Arab League, supported by the international community, brokeres a peace settlement at Taef.
  • {\tab}1982: Second Israeli invasion.
  • 14 March 1978: First Israeli invasion, resulting in an occupied 'Security Zone' in South Lebanon. The occupation violates UN resolution 425.
  • 13 April 1975: Beginning of Lebanese Civil War.
  • 1969: The "Cairo Accord" guarantees the Palestinian guerrillas free action in southern Lebanon and an autonomous status inside the Palestinan camps.
  • {\tab}22 Nov 1943: Independence from mandate.
  • 1943: Bechara el-Khoury (Maronite) and Riad el-Solh (Sunni) conclude a "National Pact".
  • 23 May 1926: Constitution adopted; it is fashioned after that of the French Third Republic.
  • 1920: League of Nations grants France mandate authority over territory what is nowadays the Republic of Lebanon.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - 11.2.2022 / Thanks to Cordelia Koch.
For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.