IMF Congress 2002
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Point Paper
Lebanon's Sovereignty

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, co-authored by Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Charles Malik, Lebanon's representative to the UN, set forth the guidelines for resolving problems in the world. Lebanon, a charter member of the United Nations, does not now enjoy the "inherent dignity" of the human family of which the document spoke so eloquently. On the contrary, the events of recent years and months have shown that, in addition to being the battleground for the conflict of its neighbors, Lebanon now faces the prospect of serving as the sacrificial lamb in the "peace process." In this critical time, Lebanon, whose history of tolerance and democracy was unique in the region, may fall as the price of peace.

Lebanon's historic dignity among the community of nations demands that it be accorded full membership at the peace table and all other negotiations, which may affect its future. While Lebanon fully acknowledges the special relationship with Syria, this relationship has not been allowed to naturally develop because of continued occupation by Syrian troops in violation of the Taif Accords, which was supported by the United States. It is a matter of Middle East political history that Lebanon as the first true democracy in the region has been hindered in further development because restrictive regimes.

Because of the occupation, distrust and discord has been planted among the Lebanese themselves. Repressive measures and agreements, which do not have popular political support, are causing significant violations of human rights. There are still prisoners in Syria for which there has been no accounting. In Lebanon itself, political dissidents who are out of favor remain in jails and legitimate political leaders remain in exile afraid to return.

Although the Israeli withdrawal from the south of Lebanon was welcomed by all Lebanese, yet to the present day the Lebanese government has been restricted from taking its lawful action to secure and protect its own citizens.

Recently the Maronite Patriarch and the Council of Bishops issued a strong statement calling on the nation to address its relationship with Syria. This call for national dialogue on the issue of Lebanese sovereignty and the national government's exercise of its constitutional role was well received from most of the segments of the Lebanese constituency. Many leaders gave support to the Patriarch and the bishops on their strong call on the President and the Parliament to begin this national dialogue and to engage the Syrians on a redefinition of the individual national roles and responsibilities.

The Patriarch's call for open dialogue should be considered as an opportunity to develop a consensus among the Lebanese body politic to develop a working relationship centered on the concept of a "strategic alliance" between Lebanon and Syria that would preserve their individual sovereignty. The only beneficiaries of this definition can only be a strengthening of the social and economic ties between the two nations, and the development of a security alliance. Finally, at long last, there can be an appropriate exchange of ambassadors between the two countries.



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