Posted by: sean | June 18, 2009

Baby steps: Nationality and Lebanese women

This week a Lebanese woman won a legal battle against the state recognizing her right to give her citizenship to her children. The woman was married to a foreigner who died while the children were still minors. Al-Akhbar had an article on the case yesterday along with a copy of the judge’s decision.

I’ve been trying to find some English press coverage but have had little success so far. L’Orient le Jour, however, has a write up of the case along with the government’s reaction.

The question asked in L’Orient le Jour is whether or not this ruling will set a precedent and whether or not the state intends to appeal. The answer to the first question is unsure, but comments on the issue by Minister of Justice Ibrahim Najjar seem to indicate that there will be an appeal (translation mine):

Ce n’est qu’un jugement de première instance, et l’État pourrait être acculé à faire appel avant qu’il ne devienne définitif et qu’il ait pour effet d’opérer un revirement de jurisprudence.

This is only a first ruling, and the state could be pushed to appeal the decision before it becomes definitive and before it effects a reversal of precedent.

There had been pressure from  civil society groups for a new nationality law to be drafted, but the exiting parliament never did it. Politicians most likely would like to see the issue resolved in the parliament instead of the courts, where they will have control over things. Because if there is precedent established for a woman’s right to confer her citizenship in Lebanon, it will be legally very difficult for an exception to be made for Lebanese women married to Palestinians.

It wouldn’t surprise me, then, if this issue were to suddenly become a priority for parliament.



  1. it would be despicable, yes, and cause an outcry from civil society groups, but would it really be “legally very difficult for an exception to be made for Lebanese women married to Palestinians”?

    it is my understanding that at least egypt does have such a provision, but i could be mistaken.

    in any case, i can’t imagine the parliament would have any qualms about reframing the exception as a measure to “protect” the palestinian nation and the right of return.

    other than being morally suspect, does anyone know if there ARE genuine legal impediments that couldn’t be bypassed with consensus?

  2. Well if the legal precedent being set here is that a Lebanese woman is equal to her compatriots no matter whom she’s married to, then yes, there would be a legal difference.

    But legality is looked at in different ways by the legislative/executive branch and the judicial branch of government. So according to a source in the Ministry of the Interior with whom I talked about this a month or two ago, if the nationality law gets passed, it’s likely that there will be an exception for women married to Palestinians.

    Otherwise, that’s just the problem here. There are no “legal impediments” that can’t be “bypassed with consensus.” Just look at the appointment of the president. It was totally unconstitutional, but no one seemed to care.

  3. I would say this is the first case in the Arab world. don’t know why by our countries are afraid to give their fully respected paspsort (a joke!) to the children of its citizens, the same goes with people in Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Gulf states have even more strict laws. Im happy for that family

  4. […] on citizenship There has been a ruling on the case of a Lebanese woman married to an Egyptian man who sued the state for her children’s right to Lebanese […]

  5. […] in areas like inheritance and citizenship. (For more on the citizenship struggle, see here, here and […]

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