Lebanese authorities are failing to uphold their citizens’ right to electricity, according to Human Rights Watch, which is necessary for an adequate standard of living and is internationally protected.
Human Rights Watch has recently released a report stating that the Lebanese government has failed to uphold the right to electricity by mismanaging the sector for decades. According to the US-based watchdog, electricity is an internationally protected right necessary for an adequate standard of living. The electricity crisis in Lebanon has resulted in people being left in the dark and has dramatically reduced their access to critical rights such as food, water, education, and health care. The situation has pushed people into poverty and diminished their access to necessities, which has exacerbated inequality.
The government currently provides electricity for one to three hours a day on average, and residents who can afford it supplement the government supply by paying for access to private generators. However, nine out of every ten households surveyed said that the cost of electricity affected their ability to pay for other essential services. The generators that are being used run on fuel, which is causing extensive air pollution that is affecting the environment and health and contributing to a worsening climate crisis.
Human Rights Watch points to three decades of mismanagement of the electricity sector by Lebanese authorities as the main cause of the current state of affairs. Instead of appointing members to an independent Electricity Regulatory Authority to direct the sector, as mandated by law, the Council of Ministers exerted almost complete control over the sector with little transparency and accountability.
Lebanon’s economy has been in a deep financial crisis since October 2019, which culminated in the country’s first sovereign default in March 2020. While electricity blackouts have been a persistent problem for decades, they became a full-blown crisis in the summer of 2021 when the Lebanese state failed to secure the foreign currency necessary to buy fuel. The rapid devaluation of the Lebanese lira, supply-chain bottlenecks, and fuel shortages have caused prices for electricity, water, and gas to increase by 595 percent.
Lebanon needs to take immediate action to bolster the electricity sector and reverse the ongoing erosion of basic economic rights, says Human Rights Watch. The government should invest in renewable energy sources that will create job opportunities, lessen pollution, and give people in Lebanon access to reliable, safe, and clean electricity.