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.
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.
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.
Eric Verdeil, “Les territoires du vote au Liban,”M@ppemonde78, no. 2 (2005): http://mappemonde.mgm.fr/num6/articles/art05209.html.