THE TAIF AGREEMENT First, General Principles and Reforms:
I. General Principles:
A. Lebanon is a sovereign, free, and independent country and a final h omeland for all its citizens.
B. Lebanon is Arab in belonging and identity. It is an active and foun ding member of the Arab League and is committed to the league's charter. It is an active and founding member of the United Nations Organization an d is committed to its charters. Lebanon is a member of the nonaligned mo vement. The state of Lebanon shall embody these principles in all areas and spheres, without exception.
C. Lebanon is a democratic parliamentary republic founded on respect f or public liberties, especially the freedom of expression and belief, on social justice, and on equality in rights and duties among all citi zens, without discrimination or preference.
D. The people are the source of authority. They are sovreign and they shall exercise their sovreignty through the constitutional institutions.
E. The economic system is a free system that guarantees individual ini tiative and private ownership.
F. Culturally, socially, and economically-balanced development is a ma instay of the state's unity and of the system's stability.
G. Efforts (will be made) to achieve comprehensive social justice thro ugh fiscal, economic, and social reform.
H. Lebanon's soil is united and it belongs to all the Lebanese. Every Lebanese is entitled to live in and enjoy any part of the country u nder the supremacy of the law. The people may not be categorized on the basis of any affiliation whatsoever and there shall be no fragmentation, no partition, and no repatriation [of Palestinians in Lebanon].
I. No authority violating the common co-existance charter shall be leg itimate II. Political Reforms
A. Chamber of Deputies: The Chamber of Deputies is the legislative aut hority which exercises full control over government policy and activities.
1. The Chamber spokesman and his deputy shall be elected for the du ration of the chamber's term.
2. In the first session, two years after it elects its speaker and deputy speaker, the chamber my vote only once to withdraw confidence fr om its speaker or deputy speaker with a 2/3 majority of its members and in accordance with a petition submitted by at least 10 deputies. In case confidence is withdrawn, the chamber shall convene immediately t o fill the vacant post.
3. No urgent bill presented to the Chamber of Deputies may be issue d unless it is included in the agenda of a public session and read in such a session, and unless the grace period stipulated by the constitution passes without a resolution on such a bill with the approval of the cabinet.
4. The electoral district shall be the governorate.
5. Until the Chamber of Deputies passes an election law free of sec terian restriction, the parliamentary seats shall be divided according to the following bases:
a. Equally between Christians and Muslims.
b. Proportionately between the denominations of each sect.
c. Proportionately between the districts.
6. The number of members of the Chamber of Deputies shall be incre ased to 108, shared equally between Christians and Muslims. As for t he districts created on the basis of this document and the distric ts whose seats became vacant prior to the proclamation of this doc ument, their seats shall be filled only once on an emergency basis thr ough appointment by the national accord government that is planned t o be formed.
7. With the election of the first Chamber of Deputies on a nationa l, not secterian, basis, a senate shall be formed and all the spir itual families shall be represented in it. The senate powers shall be confined to crucial issues.
B. President of Republic: The president of republic is the head of th e state and a symbol of the country's unity. He shall contribute to enhancing the constitution and to preserving Lebanon's independenc e, unity, and territorial integrity in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. He is the supreme commander of the armed forces which are subject to the power of the cabinet. The president shall exerc ise the following powers:
1. Head the cabinet [meeting] whenever he wishes, but without voti ng.
2. Head the Supreme Defense Council.
3. Issues decrees and demand their publication. He shall also be e ntitled to ask the cabinet to reconsider any resolution it makes within 15 days of the date of depostion of the resolution with the presid ential office. Should the cabinet insist on the adopted resolution, or should the grace period pass without issuing and returning the decree, the decree of the resolution shall be valid and must be published.
4. Promulgate laws in accordance with the grace period stipulated by the constitution and demand their publication upon ratification by the Chamber of Deputies. After notifying the cabinet, the president may also request reexamination of the laws within the grace periods provided by the constitution, and in accordance with the articl es of the constitution. In case the laws are not issued or returned b efore the end of the grace periods, they shall be valid by law and th ey must be published.
5. Refer the bills presented to him by the Chamber of Deputies.
6. Name the prime minister-designate in consultation with the Cham ber of Deputies speaker on the basis of binding parliamentary consultation, the outcome of which the president shall official ly familiarize the speaker on.
7. Issue the decree appointing the prime minister independently.
8. On agreement with the prime minister, issue the decree forming the cabinet.
9. Issue decrees accepting the resignation of the cabinet or of ca binet ministers and decrees relieving them from their duties.
10. Appoint ambassadors, accept the accreditation of ambassadors, a nd award state medals by decree.
11. On agreement with the prime minister, negotiate on the conclusi on and signing of international treaties which shall become valid only upon approval by the cabinet. The cabinet shall familiariaze the Cha mber of Deputies with such treaties when the country's interest and sta te safety make such familiarization possible. As for treaties invo lving conditions concerning state finances, trade treaties, and other treaties which may not be abrogated annually, they may not be concluded without Chamber of Deputies' approval.
12. When the need arises, address messages to the Chamber of Deputi es.
13. On agreement with the prime minister, summon the Chamber of Dep uties to hold special sessions by decree.
14. The president of the republic is entitled to present to the cab inet any urgent issue beyond the agenda.
15. On agreement with the prime minister, call the cabinet to hold a special session whenever he deems it necessary.
16. Grant special pardon by decree.
17. In the performance of his duty, the president shall not be liab le unless he violates the constitution or commits high treason.
C. Prime Minister: The prime minister is the head of the government. He represents it and speaks in its name. He is responsible for implem enting the general policy drafted by the cabinet. The prime minister shal l exercise the following powers:
1. Head the cabinet.
2. Hold parliamentary consultations to form the cabinet and co-sig n with the president the decree forming it. The cabinet shall submit i ts cabinet statement to the Chamber of Deputies for a vote of conf idence within 30 days [of its formation]. The cabinet may not exercise its powers before gaining the confidence, after its resignation, or when it is considered retired, except within the narrow sense of dis posing of affairs.
3. Present the government's general policy to the Chamber of Deput ies.
4. Sign all decrees, except for decrees naming the prime minister and decrees accepting cabinet resignation or considering it retired.
5. Sign the decree calling for a special session and decrees issui ng laws and requesting the reexamination of laws.
6. Summon the cabinet to meet, draft its agenda, familiarize the president of the republic in advance with the issues included i n the agenda and with the urgent issues to be discussed, and sign the usual session minutes.
7. Observe the activities of the public departments and institutio ns, coordinate between the ministers, and issue general instruction s to ensure the smooth progress of work.
8. Hold working sessions with the state agencies concerned in the presence of the minister concerned.
9. By law, act as the Supreme Defense Council's deputy chairman. D. Cabinet:
[ No item 1. as published ]
2. Watch over the implementation of laws and regulations and super vise the activities of all the state agencies without exception, inc luding the civilian, military, and security departments and institutio ns.
3. The cabinet is the authority which controls the armed forces.
4. Appoint, dismiss, and accept the resignation of state employees in accordance with the law. 5. It has the right to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies at the req uest of the president of the republic if the chamber refuses to meet throughout an ordinary or a special session lasting no less tha n one month, even though it is summoned twice consecutively, or if th e chamber sends back the budget in its entirety with the purpose of paralyzing the government. This right may not be exercised agai n for the same reasons which called for dissolving the chamber in the first instance.
6. When the president of the republic is present, he heads cabinet sessions. The cabinet shall meet periodically at special headqu arters. The legal quorum for a cabinet meeting is 2/3 the cabinet membe rs. The cabinet shall adopt its resolutions by consent. If impossib le, then by vote. The resolutions shall be adopted by a majority of the members present. As for major issues, they require the approval of 2/3 the cabinet members. The following shall be considered majo r issues: The state of emergency and it abolition, war and peace, general mobilization, international agreements and treaties, th e state's general budget, comprehensive and long-term development plans, the appointment of top-level civil servants or their equivalent , reexamination of the administrative division, dissolving the Chamber of Deputies, the election law, the citizenship law, the personal status laws, and the dismissal of cabinet ministers.
E. Minister: The minister's powers shall be reinforced in a manner compatible with the government's general policiy and with the prin ciple of collective responsibility. A minister shall not be relieved fro m his position unless by cabinet decree or unless the Chamber of Deputie s withraws its confidence from him individually.
F. Cabinet Resignation, Considering Cabinet Retired, and Dismissal of Ministers:
1. The cabinet shall be considered retired in the following cases: a. If its chairman resigns.
b. If it looses more than 1/3 of its members as determined by t he decree forming it.
c. If its chairman dies.
d. At the beginning of a president's term.
e. At the beginning of the Chamber of Deputies' term.
f. When the Chamber of Deputies withdraws its confidence from i t on an initiative by the chamber itself and on the basis of a vo te of confidence.
2. A minister shall be relieved by a decree signed by the presiden t of the republic and the prime minister, with cabinet approval.
3. When the cabinet resigns or is considered retired, the Chamber of Deputies shall, by law, be considered to be convened in a speci al session until a new cabinet is formed. A vote-of-confidence ses sion shall follow.
G. Abolition of Political Secterianism: Abolishing political secteria nism is a fundamental national objective. To achieve it, it is required that efforts be made in accordance with a phased plan. The Chamber of D eputies electedon the basis of equal sharing by Christians and Muslims sha ll adopt the proper measures to achieve this objective and to form a national council which is headed by the president of the republic and which includes, in addition to the prime minister and the Chamber of Deputies speaker, political, intellectual, and social notables. Th e council's task will be to examine and propose the means capable of abolishing sectarianism, to present them to the Chamber of Deputie s and the cabinet, and to observe implementation of the phased plan. The following shall be done in the interim period:
a. Abolish the sectarian representation base and rely on capabilit y and specialization in public jobs, the judiciary, the military, sec urity, public, and joint institutions, and in the independent agencies in accordance with the dictates of national accord, excluding the top-level jobs and equivalent jobs which shall be shared equall y by Christians and Muslims without allocating any particular job to any sect.
b. Abolish the mention of sect and denomination on the identity ca rd. III. Other Reforms:
A. Administrative Decentralism:
1. The State of Lebanon shall be a single and united state with a s trong central authority.
2. The powers of the governors and district administrative officers shall be expanded and all state administartions shall be represented i n the administrative provinces at the highest level possible so as to facilitate serving the citizens and meeting their needs locally.
3. The administrative division shall be recognized in a manner that emphasizes national fusion within the framework of preserving co mmon coexistance and unity of the soil, people, and institutions.
4. Expanded administrative decentralization shall be adopted at the level of the smaller administrative units [ district and smaller units ] through the election of a council, headed by the district office r, in every district, to ensure local participation.
5. A comprehensive and unified development plan capable of developi ng the provinces economically and socially shall be adopted and the res ources of the municipalities, unified municipalities, and municipal uni ons shall be reinforced with the necessary financial resources.
 To guarantee that all officials and citizens are subject to the supremacy of the law and to insure harmony between the action of the legislative and executive authorities on the one hand, and the g ivens of common coexistance and the basic rights of the Lebanese as stipulated in the constitution on the other hand:
1. The higher council which is stipulated by the constitution and w hose task it is to try presidents and ministers shall be formed. A sp ecial law on the rules of trial before this council shall be promulgat ed.
2. A constitutional council shall be created to interpret the constitution, to observe the constitutionality of the laws, and to settle disputes and contests emanating from presidential and parliamentary elections.
3. The following authorities shall be entitled to revise the constitutional council in matters pertaining to interpreting the constitution and observing the constitutionality of the laws:
a. The president of the republic. b. The Chamber of Deputies speaker.
c. The prime minister.
d. A certain percentage of members of the Chamber of Deputies.
 To ensure the principle of harmony between religion and state, t he heads of the Lebanese sects may revise the constitutional counci l in matters pertaining to:
1. Personal status affairs.
2. Freedom of religion and the practice of religious rites.
3. Freedom of religious education.
C. To ensure the judiciary's independence, a certain number of the the Higher Judiciary Council shall be elected by the judiciary body.
D. Parliamentary Election Law: Parliamentary elections shall be held i n accordance with a new law on the basis of provinces and in the ligh t of rules that guarantee common coexistance between the Lebanese, and t hat ensure the sound and efficient political representation of all the people's factions and generations. This shall be done after reviewi ng the administrative division within the context of unity of the people, the land, and the institutions.
E. Creation of a socioeconomic council for development: A socioeconomi c council shall be created to insure that representatives of the vari ous sectors participate in drafting the state's socioeconomic policy an d providing advice and proposals.
1. Education shall be provided to all and shall be made obligatory for the elementary stage at least.
2. The freedom of education shall be emphasized in accordance with general laws and regulations.
3. Private education shall be protected and state control over priv ate schools and textbooks shall be strengthened.
4. Official, vocational, and technological education shall be refor med, strengthened, and developed in a manner that meets the country's development and reconstruction needs. The conditions of the Leba nese University shall be reformed and aid shall be provided to the university, especially to its technical colleges.
5. The curricula shall be reviewed and developed in a manner that strengthens national belonging, fusion, spiritual and cultural openness, and that unifies textbooks on the subjects of history and national education.
G. Information: All the information media shall be reorganized under t he canopy of the law and within the framework of responsible liberties that serve the cautious tendencies and the objective of ending the state of war. Second, spreading the sovereignty of the State of Lebanon ovel all Lebane se territories: Considering that all Lebanese factions have agreed to the establishment of a strong state founded on the basis of national accord, the national accord government shall draft a detailed one-year plan whose obj ective is to spread the sovereignty of the State of Lebanon over all Lebanese territories gradually with the state's own forces. The broad lines of the plan shall be as follows:
A. Disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias shall be annou nced. The militias' weapons shall be delivered to the State of Lebanon wi thin a period of 6 months, beginning with the approval of the national a ccord charter. The president of the republic shall be elected. A national accord cabinet shall be formed, and the political reforms shall be approve d constitutionally.
B. The internal security forces shall be strengthened through:
1. Opening the door of voluntarism to all the Lebanese without exce ption, beginning the training of volunteers centrally, distributing the volunteers to the units in the governorates, and subjecting them to organized periodic training courses.
2. Strengthening the security agency to insure control over the ent ry and departure of individuals into and out of the country by land, ai r, and sea.
C. Strengthening the armed forces:
1. The fundamental task of the armed forces is to defend the homela nd, and if necessary, protect public order when the danger exceeds the capability of the internal security forces to deal with such a d anger on their own.
2. The armed forces shall be used to support the internal security forces in preserving security under conditions determined by the cabine t.
3. The armed forces shall be unified, prepared, and trained in orde r that they may be able to shoulder their national responsibilities in confronting Israeli aggression.
4. When the internal security forces become ready to assume their s ecurity tasks, the armed forces shall return to their barracks.
5. The armed forces intelligence shall be reorganized to serve mili tary objectives exclusively.
D. The problem of the Lebanese evacuees shall be solved fundamentally, and the right of every Lebanese evicted since 1975 to return to the pla ce from which he was evicted shall be established. Legistlation to gua rantee this right and to insure the means of reconstruction shall be issue d. Considering that the objective of the State of Lebanon is to spread its authority over all the Lebanese territories through its own forces, represented primarily by the internal security forces, and in view of the fraternal relations binding Syria to Lebanon, the Syrian forces shall thankfully assist the forces of the legitimate Lebanese government to spread the authority of the State of Lebanon within a set period of no more than 2 years, beginning with ratification of the national acco rd charter, election of the president of the republic, formation of th e national accord cabinet, and approval of the political reforms constitutionally. At the end of this period, the two governments -- the Syrian Government and the Lebanese National Accord Government - - shall decide to redeploy the Syrian forces in Al-Biq'a area from Da hr al-Baydar to the Hammana-al-Mudayrij-'Ayn Darah line, and if necess ary, at other points to be determined by a joint Lebanese-Syrian militar y committee. An agreement shall also be concluded by the two governme nts to determine the strength and duration of the presence of Syrian fo rces in the above-mentioned area and to define these forces' relationshi p with the Lebanese state authorities where the forces exist. The Arab Tri partite Committee is prepared to assist the two states, if they so wish, to develop this agreement. Third, liberating Lebanon from the Israeli occupation: Regaining state au thority over the territories extending to the internationally-recognized Lebanese borders requires the following:
A. Efforts to implement resolution 425 and the other UN Security Counc il resolutions calling for fully eliminating the Israeli occupation.
B. Adherence to the truce agreement concluded on 23 March 1949.
C. Taking all the steps necessary to liberate all Lebanese territories from the Israeli occupation, to spread state sovereignty over all the territories, and to deploy the Lebanese army in the border area adj acent to Israel; and making efforts to reinforce the presence of the UN f orces in South Lebanon to insure the Israeli withdawl and to provide the opportunity for the return of security and stability to the border area. Fourth, Lebanese-Syrian Relations: Lebanon, with its Arab identity, is ti ed to all the Arab countries by true fraternal relations. Between Lebanon and S yria there is a special relationship that derives its strength from the roots of blood relationships, history, and joint fraternal interests. This is the concept on which the two countries' coordination and cooperation is founded, and which will be embodied by the agreements between the two countries in all areas , in a manner that accomplishes the two fraternal countries' interests within th e framework of the sovereignty and independence of each of them. Therefore, and because strengthening the bases of security creates the climate needed to develop these bonds, Lebanon should not be allowed to constitute a source of threat to Syria's security, and Syria should not be allowed to constitute a source of threat to Lebanon's security under any circumstances. Consequen tly, Lebanon should not allow itself to become a pathway or a base for any for ce, state, or organization seeking to undermine its security or Syria's secur ity. Syria, which is eager for Lebanon's security, independence, and unity and for harmony among its citizens, should not permit any act that poses a threat to Lebanon's security, independence, and sovereignty.
Sources: Chaim Herzog Center