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On the 17th of April, the Constitutional Council, in cooperation with the Lebanese Elections Assistance Project (LEAP) – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched the outputs of their collaboration: new website, a publication compiling the Council’s decisions in 2 volumes (1994 – 2014), and a legal study on the role and precedents of the Council. This cooperation aimed at providing support to the Council to promote transparency and raise public awareness on the role of the Constitutional Council on election disputes.
The event was hosted at the premises of the Council and was attended by Dr. Issam Sleiman, President of the Constitutional Council, Mr. Luca Renda, UNDP’s Country Director, Dr. Alexis Loeber representing the European Union delegation in Lebanon, representatives from the UK embassy, the members of the Council and representatives from legal and judicial institutions. The authors of the publications and the experts who worked on developing the website and on modernizing the library were present in addition to the members of the press.
After the national anthem, Dr. Loeber initiated his speech with a call from the head of the EU Delegation to Lebanon, Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, to Lebanon to make 2015 “the year of strong institutions”. He declared “the delegation is pleased to contribute in supporting the capacities of the Council, through the UNDP LEAP and stated that “contributing to building such resilient institutions can help Lebanon cope with the spill-over of regional crises”.
In his speech, Mr. Renda expressed UNDP’s honor to partner with the Council in order to sustain its democratic role and build stronger foundations for years to come. Then, he explained what kind of support UNDP LEAP provided to the Council: “support the capacity of the Council as the main judicial institution handling electoral challenges in Lebanon and provide the necessary technical equipment that will help the Council in processing electoral cases and organizing its administrative archive in a more efficient manner. In addition, UNDP LEAP assisted the Council in providing access to information to all Lebanese citizens, be it from civil society, academia or the legal profession. All stakeholders should make the best of the joint publications, the modernized library and the new official website that we are launching today”.
Dr. Issam Sleiman, President of the Constitutional Council, thanked the UNDP and the donors for their support and stressed on the efforts made by the LEAP team to make this collaboration a success. He stated that “despite the difficulties the country has been facing both on the local and regional levels; we continued our work and regained the role of the Constitutional Council, within the framework of its limited authorities”. He added that since the beginning of its mandate, the current council “has issued thirty decisions (20 on electoral appeals and 10 on the constitutionality reviews), which constitute 31% of the total decisions issued by the Constitutional Council (98 decisions) in the twenty years since its inception”.
Dr. Sleiman presented a recognition award to the UNDP LEAP in appreciation for the team’s efforts, handed to LEAP legal officer Ms. Diana Kallas.
Ms. Kallas gave a small presentation on the new website which includes a searchable archive of all 98 decisions taken from 1994 till 2014 and an e-catalog of the council’s library specialized in Constitutional Law. “The main objective was to increase access to information for civil society”, said Ms. Kallas.
Finally, the participants were invited to visit the modernized library, take a copy of the publications, and share a bite at the cocktail reception.
This conference fell under the framework of the cooperation between the Constitutional Council and UNDP LEAP, with the support of the European Union and the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office. LEAP stresses, among other objectives, on providing support to the various judicial bodies concerned with resolving electoral disputes, including the Constitutional Council and the State Council.
The cooperation between the Council and UNDP consists of the following:
– Developing and updating the website of the Council;
– Producing a legal study on the role and precedents of the Council;
– Producing a compilation of all Constitutional Council decisions in two volumes (1994-2014);
– Developing an online and accessible archive of the Council’s library;
– Installing technical improvements to the Council’s administration.
17 APRIL 2015