Charter to Reform the Arab Stand

This document, entitled "Charter to Reform the Arab Stand" was published in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on 13 January, 2003. It represents an initiative by Crown Prince Abdullah, for presentation to the Arab summit scheduled to be held in March 2003.

Translation: Arab News

The Arab kings and presidents,

Having reviewed the current Arab situation and noticed the long silence and unexplained connivance of what is happening in the Arab arena and the state of weakness and powerlessness that led some to find it easy to attack the Arab nation and harm its legitimate interest, we consider that the time has come to reinvigorate the national soul and awaken and rekindle its determination to prove that the Arabs are able to establish themselves as a living nation capable of facing the challenges and threats posed by the ongoing developments and their accelerated ramifications.

This is to be done by working to change the bitter reality lived by the Arab nation in conformation of the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. "Verily, never will God change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)."

The leaders agreed that joint Arab action requires seriousness, credibility and commitment to implement adopted resolutions and acknowledged that all such requirements were lacking in the past.

The leaders have taken the initiative by calling for a new Arab charter that would ensure protection of Arab legitimate interests, realize the just demands of the Arab nation, promote joint Arab action, regulate inter-Arab relations and ties with the rest of the world. All this is to be done through the adoption of clearly defined mechanisms and programs to ensure the sincere implementation of Arab summit resolutions.

The leaders swear by God the Almighty and promise their peoples to act with determination and firmness to safeguard the sovereignty, safety and territorial integrity of Arab countries and upgrade Arab defense capabilities. They reaffirm their readiness to fulfill their duty toward assisting the Palestinian National Authority and backing the steadfastness of the Palestinian people inside their occupied homeland in the face of the Israeli occupation, seizures and brutality.

They renew their commitment to a just and comprehensive peace based on legitimate Arab rights and declare their determination to work with all peace-loving people in the world for the implementation of the Arab Peace Plan which paves the way for achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region.

Such peace would not be possible until after Israel withdraws from all Arab lands occupied in 1967 and the Palestinian people enabled to exercise their internationally recognized legitimate rights to establish their independent state on their occupied lands with Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital. The elements of the Arab Peace Plan represent the minimum acceptable condition to establish normal relations with Israel based on relevant international resolutions and in line with the Madrid Conference and the principle of land for peace.

The leaders decide that self-reform and the promotion of political participation in Arab countries represents two basic tools for building Arab capabilities. They provide the conditions needed to realize comprehensive and sustainable development, meet the requirements for positive engagement in international affairs, encourage creative thinking and deal objectively with international changes, notably globalization and the rise of mega economic blocks, as well as catch up with the rapid developments in such areas of technology, communication and information. The Arab world represents an important tributary that contributed to the development of human civilization.

They express their total rejection of any illegitimate foreign aggression against any Arab country and their commitment to solve all Arab conflicts peacefully, prohibiting the use of force between Arab countries.

They pledge to stand united against any Arab country that attacks another Arab country under any pretext or circumstances. In taking such a stand they hold no enmity against anyone, as their sole objective is to defend their interests and mobilize their potentials in the service of global peace and security.

Since economy constitutes the fundamental element for the strength of countries, the leaders note that the efforts made so far by Arab countries to promote economic cooperation lack seriousness. Consequently, efforts should be made to lay down a practical plan for the creation of greater Arab free trade zone by the end of 2005 after removing all administrative and technical restrictions.

Efforts should also be made to work out a trade policy depending on a unified customs tariff leading to the establishment of a customs union within a period of 10 years, in preparations for the establishment of an Arab common market.

Since economic cooperation among Arab countries must be based on a firm foundation, it is essential to support and encourage the private sector. Creating the conducive atmosphere to attract investment, encourage private initiatives, attract Arab and international capital and make optimum use of Arab human resources and expertise can do this.

On the basis of all the principles mentioned above, whoever is ready to contribute their capabilities and potentials to translate this charter into reality with wholeheartedness is welcome and forms integral part of us.

Whoever finds in these principles anything that does not suit their goals and objectives, cannot be considered to constitute part of the long sought joint Arab action and are thus freedom to act in accordance with their own views and concepts.

Henceforth, it will not be acceptable for us to say what we don’t practice or promise what we don’t fulfill. This charter shall be binding to those who take their responsibility fully and seriously. Those who deviate from this course shall be answerable to God and to their people.