Lebanon Papers

The Kafala System in Lebanon - An Unequal Power Balance

- by Isabel Henzler Carrascal

Lebanon is currently experiencing one of the most difficult times in history as the country is wrestling with a dire economic situation, a global pandemic and political instability.

The Lebanon Papers series therefore aims to offer an overview on the current situation in Lebanon and provide possible solutions for a better future.

Its purpose is to prevent disinformation by ensuring sound reporting while explaining the challenges as simple as possible for the information to be accessible to as many people as possible. The paper series consist of well-founded reports on different topics using political, economic and judicial perspectives in order to achieve a comprehensive coverage.

The sixth issue of the series addresses the kafala system in Lebanon. The kafala system is a legal framework defining the relationship between migrant workers and their employers that is widespread in the Middle East. While it is designed to supply booming economies with cheap labour, basic principles of labour and human rights law are often times completely omitted. Consequently, the system has rightly been criticised as it traps migrant domestic workers in potentially harmful situations by tying their legal status to their employer. This paper looks at this system and also explores ways how one can strive for the eventual abolition of a system that has no place in the 21st century.