Citizenship, Migration, and Confessional Democracy in Lebanon

in Middle East Law and Governance
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No major citizenship reform has been adopted in Lebanon since the creation of the Lebanese citizenship in 1924. Moreover, access to citizenship for foreign residents does not depend on established administrative rules and processes, but instead on ad hoc political decisions. The Lebanese citizenship regime is thus characterized by immobilism and discretion. This paper looks at the relationship between citizenship regime and confessional democracy, defined as a system of power sharing between different religious groups. It argues that confessional democracy hinders citizenship reform and paves the way to arbitrary naturalization practices, and that, in turn, the citizenship regime contributes to the resilience of the political system. In other words, the citizenship regime and the political system are mutually reinforcing.

Middle East Law and Governance

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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References

2

Arnon Soffer, “Lebanon: Where Demography is the Core of Politics and Life,” Middle Eastern Studies 22, no. 2 (1986): 197–205.

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Elizabeth Picard, “Le communautarisme politique et la question de la démocratie au Liban,” Revue internationale de politique comparée 4, no. 3 (1997): 639–656.

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Ussama Makdissi, “Moving Beyond Orientalist Fantasy, Sectarian Polemic, and Nationalist,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 40, no. 4 (2008): 559–560, cited in Kingston 2013.

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Kahei Hashimoto, “Lebanese Population Movement 1920–1939: Toward a Study,” in The Lebanese in the World: a Century of Emigration, (eds.) Albert Hourani and Nadim Shehadi, London: I. B. Tauris and Center for Lebanese Studies, 1992, 65–107. Various reasons were put forward to explain such a drawback: emigrants were not aware of the necessity to apply for citizenship; they lived in remote places far from any French consulate; they refused to become Lebanese citizens because they rejected French foreign policy and supported Pan-Arabism or Pan-Syrianism.

24

In 2011, the government approved a draft law to extend the restitution of citizenship by persons of Lebanese descent, but it was not introduced in the Parliament.

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Sfeir 2008.

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Dawn Chatty, “Bedouin in Lebanon: The Transformation of a Way of Life or an Attitude?,” International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care 6, no. 3 (2010): 21–30; Meho and Kawtharani 2005.

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Knudsen 2009; Sfeir, 2008. According to the decree n°398 of November 26, 1949, applicants were required to present a document attesting to their Lebanese origin. The decision to grant citizenship was subsequently taken by the Council of Ministers and the President of the Republic, after inquiry by the Ministry of Interior.

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Kingston 2013.

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Egypt in 2004, Algeria in 2005, Morocco in 2007, and Libya in 2010 adopted provisions to allow women to transmit their nationality to their children and foreign spouse, under various conditions.

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Kingston 2013.

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Suad Joseph, “Problematizing Gender and Relational Rights: Experiences from Lebanon,” Social Politics 1, no. 3: (1994): 271–285.

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