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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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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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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