Arab League: Establishment Phase, Decades Of Joint Action

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) QNA

Doha, Qatar: Over the course of eight decades, Arab leaders held 46 summits, including 32 regular and 16 emergency sessions, alongside 4 Arab economic development summits. The 33rd Summit, hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain, comes at a critical juncture amidst significant political, security and geopolitical challenges in the region, the most notable is the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of Palestinians, and necessitates unity and solidarity to support the histaoric and foremost cause of Arabs and Muslims.

The idea of establishing an institution advocating Arab unity and coordinating Arab collective action dates back to the early 20th century. Various individuals and entities circulated ideas and opinions calling for the consolidation of relations and unified efforts during colonial times, with the aim of aligning Arab positions and raising voices for independence and sovereignty.

These calls became more serious during WWII, specifically in 1942, when the Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa el-Nahas delivered a speech in the Senate declaring Egypt's intention of convening a conference for Arab leaders to discuss the issue of Arab unity. This was echoed by the positions of King Abdullah I of Jordan, which aligned with el-Nahas's calls. The first concrete step towards establishment was taken with el-Nahas inviting both the Syrian Prime Minister Jamil Mardam Bey and the Lebanese National Bloc leader Bechara El Khoury in 1944 to discuss the idea of establishing an Arab League in Cario.

A series of bilateral and preparatory consultations between Egypt and the Arab states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Yemen began. The prevailing direction at the time was to ensure that the establishment of the Arab League did not affect the independence and sovereignty of the signatory states. The preparatory committee settled on adopting the name 'League of Arab States' endorsed the 'Alexandria Protocol,' which became the first document related to the League, signed by the heads of the participating delegations on October 7, 1944.

After holding 16 meetings at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Alexandria, amendments were approved, and the Charter of the League of Arab States was announced. On March 22, 1945, the seven Arab countries called for the signing of the Charter, with Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan being the first signatories followed by Saudi Arabia and Yemen. March 22 of every year became the day of celebration for the League of Arab States, which now comprises 22 countries.

In 1946, between May 28 and 29, the Inshas Summit was held. It was the first conference of Arab leaders convened at the invitation of King Farouk I. The seven founding countries of the Arab League (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria) attended. The first conference issued a set of resolutions focusing on assisting colonized Arab peoples in achieving their independence, emphasizing that the Palestinian issue is central to national causes, as it is inseparable from other Arab countries.

The League of Arab States became the first international organization established after World War II, preceding the United Nations by months. Its aim was to activate cooperation among member states, as affirmed in its Charter, which stressed the consolidation of Arab relations and support for Arab bonds based on respecting the independence, sovereignty, law reforms, and institution organization of these countries.

The Charter of the League includes a preamble for approval, aiming to strengthen Arab relations and ties, along with twenty articles and three special annexes. The first annex concerns Palestine, with a Palestinian delegate attending as an observer in the League's council meetings until its independence is achieved. The second annex focuses on cooperation with non-independent Arab states at that time and coordinating with their leaderships. The third annex approved the appointment of Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, as the first Secretary-General of the League for two years.

Article Twelve of the Charter outlines the establishment of the League's Secretariat, to be formed by a Secretary-General, assistant secretaries, and a number of staff. The Council of the League appoints the Secretary-General with a two-thirds majority for a renewable five-year term. The Secretary-General, with the Council's approval, appoints the assistant secretaries and principal staff of the League.

The League of Arab States consists of three main branches established according to the Charter's provisions: the Council of the League, the Permanent Committees, and the General Secretariat, in addition to bodies established by the Joint Defense and Economic Co-operation Treaty signed in 1950 and bodies established by resolutions of the League's Council, as well as ministerial councils concerned with health, tourism, and security matters.

The Arab League has played a pivotal role in shaping the Arab world's economic, strategic, and security landscape since its early days. Among them, was the Treaty of Joint Defense and Economic Cooperation signed in 1950. This treaty represented an early recognition of the multi-dimensional nature of security, going beyond the security or military aspects. The treaty stipulated in its sixth article the formation of a joint defense council that could make decisions binding on all members by a two-thirds majority, which was then considered a qualitative shift that addresses the point regarding the requirement of unanimity in decisions.

On the economic front, significant strides were taken with the Agreement to Facilitate and Develop Trade Among Arab States in 1953, followed by the Arab Economic Unity Agreement in 1957, and the establishment of the Arab Common Market in 1964. These moves were complemented by strategies for Joint Arab Economic Action and the Charter of the National Economic Action, leading to the draft joint development contract and the Unified Agreement for the Investment of Arab Capital in the Arab States at the Amman Summit in Jordan in 1980.

The first Arab League summit of leaders and heads of state was held in 1964 in Cairo, against the backdrop of the Israeli entity's diversion of the Jordan River. Since then, a decision was made to hold the summits annually in response to the Arab's repeated demand for its growing foundational, significant, and multi-dimensional role within the Arab system.

Naturally, the Arab League Charter facilitates close cooperation among member states, allowing for the creation of bilateral agreements and the possibility of amending the charter with the approval of two-thirds of the member states. It also paved the way for the establishment of an Arab Court of Justice, alongside frameworks to enhance cooperation in economic, cultural, social, and health affairs, and regulate relations with international organizations to uphold global peace and security.

The Summit-level Arab League Council is the highest authority in the League, convening annually at the leader level, with emergency sessions as needed. Additionally, the Council meets biannually at the ministerial level in March and September, along with special emergency sessions. A preparatory session is also held annually in preparation for the regular Arab League Summit, not to mention, the Arab League at the level of permanent representatives.

The League Council's responsibilities, as outlined in Article Three of the Charter, include ensuring the implementation of agreements between member states in various fields, addressing actual or potential aggression against any member state, resolving disputes through peaceful means like mediation and arbitration, and defining cooperation methods with international bodies to maintain international peace and security.

The Arab Economic and Social Council meets in two sessions at the senior official and ministerial levels, participating in the preparatory sessions for Arab summits and the Economic and Social sessions. Its tasks include approving the establishment of specialized Arab organizations and ensuring existing organizations fulfill their charter-defined roles in accordance with its specified provisions. The Council has two economic and social committees, which coordinate their efforts with specialized ministerial councils, such as the Arab Interior Ministers Council, the Council of Arab Ministers for Health, and the Council of Arab Ministers of Communications and Information.


The Peninsula

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