The Human Rights Center and the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences at Beirut Arab University, in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung- Rule of Law Program in the Middle East and North Africa, organized a seminar entitled “The Rule of Law – Challenges and Hopes”. The seminar discussions were led by Dean of Faculty of Law and Political Sciences at BAU, Prof. Mouhammad Kassem, Minister Rasheed Derbas, Military Investigative Judge Najat Abu Shakra, BAU Secretary General and Director of the Human Rights Center Dr. Omar Houry.
The event opened with the National Anthem and BAU Anthem followed by the Public Relations Officer Ms. Rima Shehab’s speech in which she pointed out that “we are back today with the joint seminar ‘The Rule of Law – Challenges and Hopes’ between the Human Rights Center and the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Rule of Law Program in the Middle East and North Africa,” affirming the fact that “what we really need today is a state of law or the state of justice and rights so that citizens enjoy civil liberties legally and use them in the courts as freedom and democracy can never exist without the rule of law in the first place.”
BAU President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Center, Professor Amr Galal El-Adawi, delivered a speech in which he indicated that “the Human Rights Center was established in 2009, and since that time, it has played an important role in promoting and spreading the culture of human rights as well as spiritual and human values among students. It has also been instrumental in communicating and cooperating with local and international institutions, universities and entities concerned with human rights issues, respecting international and Arab procedures, charters and agreements related to human rights, and developing and deepening jurisprudence research in this field.”
Prof. El Adawi added, " In 2011, BAU ratified the global foundations launched by the United Nations for human rights, and we, as a university, always seek to spread the concept of human rights which we define as a culture not law. Thus, today's symposium is highly significant in relation to the situation in the region. The state of law means the state of the constitution and to achieve this there must be freedom, democracy and cooperation among the three authorities because law is above all.”
Professor Philip Bremer, Director of the Rule of Law Program in the Middle East and North Africa - Konrad Adenauer Foundation, praised the Foundation's work and tendency to consolidate the role of the rule of law and shed light on the challenges and hopes it faces within the region as a whole, from the Maghreb to the Gulf and Levant countries.
Bremer added that research on the rule of law has demonstrated its importance in promoting sustainable economic and social development, which is one of the most important needs of Lebanon and other countries in the region.
In the end, Professor Bremer noted the importance of the debate on the rule of law with regard to Lebanon and Egypt, and thanked BAU President for hosting and organizing the symposium.
The seminar was moderated by Professor Kassem, who defined the rule of law as the constitutional state in which the practices of the governmental authorities are restricted to law. The power of the state in the state of law is limited to protecting individuals from the arbitrary practices of power, as the citizen under this state enjoys civil freedom legally, and according to which he is able to use it in the courts. Hence, it is clear that no state can enjoy democracy and freedom without first having a state of law.
In his speech, Minister Rashid Derbass stated that the conditions in which the law exists in the State of Lebanon call for a reference to the origin, and to the assertion that the rule of law is not an option but a necessity as stated by philosophers; it is an individual need for every citizen that is equal to their need for water and food. Derbass affirmed that tampering with its rules and regulations is an act of premeditated murder subjected to the provisions of Article 549 of the Penal Code.
Judge Najat Abu Shakra spoke about the “military judiciary system along with the judicial, administrative, financial and religious judiciary. It is the judiciary that has its personal, qualitative and spatial jurisdiction defined by the Military Judiciary Law No. 24/68. This private judiciary has its distinct structure from the judicial judiciary, especially in terms of the judicial authorities that comprise it and the means of appealing its decisions.
Dr. Omar Houri pointed out the nature of the Taif Agreement as it contributed to providing a final definition of Lebanon, which decided the finality of the homeland, its sovereignty and regional unity on the one hand, and its Arab identity and affiliation on the other. Thus, the Taif Agreement constituted the political and legal framework which all Arab countries approved on several occasions, whether individually or collectively. This definition came as a noticeable reassurance to the Lebanese concerning Lebanon’s Arab identity, as well as an assurance of the finality of its existence and sovereignty.
The seminar concluded with a set of questions and discussions between the attendees and the lecturers.
The symposium was attended by the Head of the Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Directorate in the Lebanese Army Colonel Ziad Rizkallah representing the Lebanese Army Commander, Head of the Southern Intelligence Division Colonel Suhail Harb, Commander of Beirut's 3rd Regional Company in Beirut Police Brigadier General Hussein Khashfeh, Director General of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas - ICARDA Professor Ali Abu Sabaa, representatives of the Faculties of Law and Political Sciences at some of the Lebanese universities, deans, faculty members, a crowd of interested students and audience.