On 22 March 1945, the Pact of the League of Arab States (Arabic | English) was signed, incorporating earlier agreements from the Alexandria Declaration and defining the LAS structure. Article 2 of the Pact describes the object and purpose of the LAS:
The purpose of the League is to draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate their political activities with the aim of realizing a close collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.
It also has among its purposes a close co-operation of the member States with due regard to the structure of each of these States and the conditions prevailing therein, in the following matters:
- Economic and financial matters, including trade, customs, currency, agriculture and industry;
- Communications, including railways, roads, aviation, navigation, and posts and telegraphs;
- Cultural matters;
- Matters connected with nationality, passports, visas, execution of judgments and extradition;
- Social welfare matters;
- Health matters.
The remainder of the document is dedicated to outlining the rules of cooperation among states and the functions of each of the LAS’s main bodies. Over the 70 years following the creation of the LAS, member states have amended the Pact to create additional bodies to support its work, which has included the creation of an Arab Parliament in 2012 through an amendment to the Pact (see Article 19). Recently, there has been an introduction of the ‘Sixth edition: the Final Draft’ which is a newly drafted version of the Pact, incorporating elements of modern human rights infrastructure. In an unofficial translation produced by the Open Society Foundations, the amended version of Article 2 under this draft would refocus the purpose and objectives of the LAS:
3. Compliance with the principles of the United Nations Charter and respect for international treaties, agreements, and conventions.
6. Respect for democratic principles and the values of justice and equality, protection of human rights, and the promotion of good governance and the rule of law.
Incorporating human rights, justice and equality into the object and purpose of the LAS could provide important tools for tackling gender-based violence in member states. Acknowledging human rights are essential for the progress of all states and the future of the organisation as a whole can redefine state obligations towards women, who are equal bearers of human rights, Recognition of the international treaties in the object and purpose of the Pact would also emphasise these obligations, given that the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, among others, have worked extensively on state obligations to women and ending gender-based violence.
Want more? Visit the LAS’s page on the Pact for more information on its development