Success Stories

Supporting Parliamentary Development in Lebanon The Bill Tracking System and a new mobile app pave the way for a modern parliament

A "first step"in the modernization of Lebanon’s parliament toward a paperless e-parliament is how the "Support to Parliament Development in Lebanon"has been described. This EU-funded project, which drew to a close in September 2017, has brought a number of changes seen as benefiting parliamentarians and the general public alike.

At its heart, the"Support Parliamentary Development in Lebanon"project sought to enhance the Parliament’s ability to carry out its functions and responsibilities efficiently. Such a mission aligns with the European Commission’s Social Justice Programme, whose objectives are to advocate for democracy, human rights and social justice in Lebanon, through the support and development of democratic governance.

One significant area of focus for the project was the upgrading of the Bill Tracking System (BTS), the IT system designed to act as a repository hub for all Lebanese laws. Although this system existed since 2003, it was inactive until 2014, when the EU project contributed to its activation.

By end of May 2017, all laws, international agreements and treaties were uploaded onto the BTS reaching currently over 1,500 documents. With the support of the EU-funded project, the parliamentarian staffs were given the necessary training to allow regular updating of this system. MPs and government officials are now submitting all their proposals in soft copies, a move that also contributes to improving parliamentary efficiency in preparation for the next parliamentary period.

The upgrade of the BTS was followed by the creation of the Lebanese National Assembly app on mobile phones as proposed by MP Yassin Jaber. This app contains the BTS as a prime feature, in addition to providing information, such as short parliamentary news and notifications to MPs about meeting times. Although the app is available to download by the public, the BTS component remains exclusively accessible to parliamentarians.

The app facilitated access to information by Lebanese parliamentarians: its operating language is Arabic and data search could be done by filtering laws or committees. Not only is this a major step toward greater transparency, it also facilitates the activities of those who want to engage in lobbying the Parliament.

According to the latest democracy profile by World Audit, Lebanon ranks 96 over 154 countries on democratic criteria of human rights, political rights and freedom. With the drafting and discussions of laws becoming transparent in the future, and the work of MPs becoming thus accountable, democracy would have gained a few crucial steps in Lebanon. Allowing citizens to have an eye and say on the debates of law texts and to lobby for the improvement of these will contribute to greater social justice in Lebanon.

For MP Yassin Jaber, the BTS upgrade and mobile application "are both considered important steps toward an advanced electronic paperless Parliament and give Lebanese citizens more information about parliamentary activities and easier access to the parliamentary website. The project has been very helpful for this".

Many achievements need to be also highlighted over the duration of the EU-funded project in support to the Lebanese parliament, namely with regard to enhancing the capacity of parliamentary staff and committees, as per their needs, on basic issues such as legal drafting, reporting, protocol, IT-related activities and many others.

The support showed by the Lebanese Parliament in advancing the implementation of the EU-funded project to reach its objective demonstrate the great commitment of the Speaker of the Parliament and Lebanese Parliamentarians in enhancing the Lebanese parliament effectiveness as one of the major elements of strong democratic governance in Lebanon.