Talks begin on Arab League reform

Foreign ministers and diplomats from 21 Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority have met in Cairo to begin talks on reforming the 60-year-old Arab League and rewriting its charter.

    Moussa chairing the Arab League meeting in Cairo on Thursday

    Opening the talks on Thursday, Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib, Jordan's foreign minister, urged colleagues to improve decision-making process in the League, which has long been seen as ineffective.

    The league's rules state that decisions should be taken by consensus, and many member states want that to be changed.
     
    "The Arab world faces increasing challenges which should be met with increased joint efforts," al-Khatib told the gathering at the league's headquarters in Cairo.
     
    Aljazeera's correspondent in Cairo, Lina al-Ghadhban, reports that a number of delegates submitted proposals to amend the league charter with regard to voting on decisions.

    The proposals recommend that agreement should be the basis of decision-making. In case of disagreement, voting should be resorted to, but only when crucial issues such as membership and peace and security are involved.

    Two-thirds majority

    Decisions will be taken in such cases provided they are backed by a two-thirds majority, according to the proposals, al-Ghadhban said.

    At the Arab summit in March, heads of state had recommended the restructuring of the League and the creation of a consultative body.
     

    Only 11 Arab states sent their
    foreign ministers to the meeting

    On Tuesday, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, inaugurated an interim Arab Parliament, which is seen as the first step towards the consultative body.

    The interim parliament will sit for five years until a new assembly is elected.

    Amr Moussa, the League's secretary-general, has often criticised member countries for doing little to support the organisation, including a failure to pay annual membership fees.
     
    At Thursday's meeting, only 11 states were represented by foreign ministers. The others sent senior diplomats.
     
    The meeting lasted only a few hours, but the negotiations on reform are expected to continue for months

    .

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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