Lebanon is experiencing one of the most crushing challenges in its 100 years of existence. The covid-19 pandemic has left the health sector teetering on the verge of collapse, the effects of which were exacerbated by the impact of the deadly Beirut port explosion on 4 August 2020. At the beginning of 2021, the Lebanese authorities declared a total lockdown to contain the dramatic surge of covid-19 infections.
Throughout the crisis, national authorities resorted to highly controversial martial law regulations in the form of the General Mobilisation Plan (GMP) in March 2020, and a state of emergency in August 2020. Such measures are unprecedented despite Lebanon regularly experiencing exceptional circumstances, triggered by both domestic and regional factors.
This briefing paper provides an analysis of how a securitised state of emergency is threatening democratic norms in Lebanon. In addition to the absence of rule of law, constitutional breaches, defective governance, and human rights violations, the state of emergency declaration poses many challenges for accountability in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion.
Given the flawed legal grounds for enacting the GMP and the state of emergency, there are concerns that the authorities will increase coercion and allow further concentration of powers in the hands of the executive.