Country report and updates: Lebanon

Lebanon

01/04/1998
From 1975 to 1991 Lebanon was involved in a civil war in which many armed groups and militia took part. Since 1991 most armed groups have been disbanded, except the Israeli-backed SLA (South Lebanese Army), which occupies the 'security zone' between the Israeli border and UNIFIL controlled areas, and Hizbollah, a fundamentatist Muslim group fighting the SLA and Israel. [7

1 Conscription

conscription exists

Conscription was first introduced in 1983 by Law 110/1983.

For years this law was not implemented. During the civil war the Lebanese government only controlled a small part of the country. Furthermore many men already served in one of the armed groups, which obviously made it difficult to enlist them in the Lebanese armed forces. [1] [9]

In 1992 the government formally reintroduced conscription by Decree 2354/1992. But it is not quite clear how far conscription is actually enforced. [2]

military service

All men between the ages of 18 and 29 are liable for military service. [3]

The length of military service is 12 months. [3]

postponement and exemption

Exemption is possible for those with physical disabilities, for students, for those having a brother who died during military service, for married, for those who are only sons and for those who have lived abroad for at least 10 years. [3]

According to a 1985 source, members of two religious denominations are exempted. No further details are known. [11]

recruitment

Young men are supposed to register at a recruitment centre at the age of 18. [3]

2 Conscientious objection

There is no known legal provision for conscientious objection.

According to a 1985 source 'an alternative service exists'. No further details are known. [11]

3 Draft evasion and desertion

penalties

Failure to respond to call-up for military service is punishable by 12 months' imprisonment. [3]

practice

No information available.

4 Forced recruitment by armed groups

The SLA (South Lebanese Army) occupies the 'security zone' between the Israeli border and UNIFIL controlled areas. The SLA maintains a separate and arbitrary system of justice in the areas under its control. [9]

In the past there have been many reports of forced recruitment by the SLA. Although the SLA paid wages nearly twice as high as those of average soldiers, they were still short of recruits. [4] [6]

In 1993 and 1994 there were several reports of the SLA conscripting men aged 16 to 35 in the western sector of the 'security zone'. In January 1994, for instance, SLA troops surrounded the village of Rmeish after villages refused to hand over 50 young men for conscription. [5]

There are no reports of forced recruitment by Hizbollah. Apparantly voluntary applications to join Hizbollah are sufficient to achieve the requisite number of recruits. [10]

During the civil war many armed groups turned to recruiting children, sometimes as young as 14. [8]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces comprise 55,100 troops, which is 1.33 percent of the population. [7]

Each year about 40,000 young men reach conscription age. [7]

The SLA comprise 2-3,000 troops. Hezbollih comprise 3-5,000 troops. [7]

Sources

[1] Société 13c 1989. Military Powers Encyclopedia, Volume 4. Paris [2] Assaf, George 1995. Nous sommes les enfants de la guerre, un dossier sur le participation des enfants aux guerres du Liban. Case study for the UN study on the impact of armed conflict on children. [3] DIRB, 22 September 1997. [4] DIRB, 27 June 1994. [5] 'Press gangs in occupied Lebanon', Peace News, February 1994, London. [6] War Resisters' International 1994. Country report. WRI, London. [7] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London. [8] Woods, Dorothea E. 1993. Child soldiers, the recruitment of children into armed forces and their participation in hostilities. Quaker Peace and Service, London. [9] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 1997. Country practices Lebanon. State Department, Washington DC. [10] DIRB, 17 January 1996. [11] Eide, A., C. Mubanga-Chipoya 1985. Conscientious objection to military service, report prepared in pursuance of resolutions 14 and 1982/30 of the Sub-Commission of Prevention of Discrimination and protection of Minorities. United Nations, New York.

Articles related to conscientious objection

01 Feb 2007
English

According to an article in the Lebanese Daily Star, "Civil War-era military conscription has officially been relegated to the annals of Lebanese history. On February 10, the Lebanese Army officially became an all-volunteer force. Law 665/2005, which officially ended conscription in Lebanon, was passed by Parliament two years ago but did not wholly take effect until Saturday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an army spokesperson told The Daily Star on Monday that 'from this day on' the army would replenish its ranks with volunteers."

01 Mar 1996
English

Action for Civil Alternative (APAC), Lebanon

Tarek El Husseini of Action for Civil Alternative, Lebanon, was pleased to meet the WRI Executive during a brief visit to London. APAC has about 60 active members and has already met nonviolence trainers from francophone groups (Jean-Marie Muller and Hervé Ott from France; Michel Megard, Switzerland, and Françoise Bazier, Belgium). An APAC leaflet declares "Our style of work is based on cooperation, auto-direction, and nonviolence, to attain full participation in civil society.