Better legal access can lead to stability in the Middle East, says Jordan’s Prince El Hassan

Communities that are marginalised and poor must understand and use the law to exercise their rights to help improve their lives, said Prince El Hassan on the sidelines of the West Asia-North Africa Forum.
Legal empowerment must be promoted as a tool of conflict resistance and resilience, Jordan Prince El Hassan bin Talal told The National on the sidelines of the West Asia-North Africa Forum, an initiative to find solutions to social, environmental and economic problems in the region.
Legal empowerment must be promoted as a tool of conflict resistance and resilience, Jordan Prince El Hassan bin Talal told The National on the sidelines of the West Asia-North Africa Forum, an initiative to find solutions to social, environmental and economic problems in the region.

AMMAN // Governments in the Middle East must give citizens better access to the legal system to prevent instability from sweeping across the region, Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal said on Thursday.

Communities that are marginalised and poor must understand and use the law to exercise their rights to help improve their lives, he said.

Political transitions in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Libya, along with the civil war in Syria and heavy violence in Iraq, force governments to dedicate their resources to “combating emergencies”, instead of making institutional changes.

But governments should not “sit back and delay reforms until stability has been addressed”.

“Legal empowerment must be promoted as a tool of conflict resistance and resilience,” he told The National on the sidelines of a two-day meeting on legal empowerment held by the West Asia-North Africa Forum, an initiative to find solutions to social, environmental and economic problems in the region.

Jordan is on the front lines of the fallout from regional unrest. The country hosts the largest number refugees per capita in the world. The first to arrive were Palestinians who fled to Jordan after two Arab-Israeli wars and now number more than two million. Jordan is also home to about 30,000 Iraqis, according to the UN refugee agency, which has also registered almost 600,000 Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country.

Prince El Hassan said the refugee crisis, which is also faced by other countries in the region, had led to a spike in development problems including water and energy shortages.

“The problems become worse when we are told by international agencies such as the UNHCR that the average lifespan of a refugee can be from 17 to 20 years,” he said.

“So if this equity is the basic result of the collapse of good governance … then the absence of justice means that the basic human dignity has been broken.”

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Published: June 12, 2014 04:00 AM

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