King Abdullah Discussion Paper Addresses Rule of Law and Civil State
His Majesty King Abdullah II made it clear that rule of law is the main foundation for a properly functioning civil state in his Royal Discussion Paper issued Sunday October 16 2016. He suggests that the absence of rule of law is one of the major reasons behind the instability in other nations in the region. The King recognises that the traditions of wasta and nepotism – or corruption in terms of using connections and/or influence to get things done - are a major barrier undermining the value of justice and equal opportunity for all the Kingdoms’ citizens. He further highlights citizens’ personal responsibility to observe laws in their daily lives and urges people to pledge respect for the laws. At the same time, he recognises the state and state institutions’ responsibility to uphold the rule of law with justice, equality and integrity.
The Royal Discussion Paper is the 6th in a series of Royal Discussion Papers dealing with democracy, parliamentary government and political reform in Jordan from December 29 2012 until September 14 2014. Since the last discussion paper was issued in 2014, the region has seen rapid changes as conflicts have deepened causing repercussions for Jordan particularly in regards to the ongoing influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq. His Highness expresses pride and gratitude for his counties’ ability to stand tall and united despite all the challenges it’s faced with.
True commitment to rule of law and accountability is in line with ARDD-Legal Aid’s mission to empower marginalized groups to acquire and enjoy their universal rights and freedoms by representing their needs and mobilizing relevant duty bearers to conform to human rights, good governance and the rule of law. The King highlights minorities’ rights as a guarantor for the rights of the majority. As a Legal Aid organization, we would also like to add that the importance of ensuring women’s access to justice could not be overstated. Rule of law does not serve as a foundation for a civil state if only half of its population are represented or can claim their equal rights before the law. Everyday women and girls in Jordan are subject to multiple forms of social, legal, and economic violence that often go unnoticed by large segments of the population. Gender equality is indeed constitutionally guaranteed in Jordan, however, the personal status law remains discriminatory against women and much of the informal gender inequality goes unnoticed. Women’s rights and access to justice must be ensured in order to obtain a civil state with rule of law equal rights for all.
The Royal Discussion Paper demonstrates the Kings efforts to fight for the Rule of law as a part of the Kingdoms wider political reform process. King Abdullah sees the complexity and diversity of Jordan’s population as a source of cultural and social enrichment, but it can also lead to conflict if rule of law is not upheld. ARDD-Legal Aid encourages the King’s efforts to ensure access to justice for all of the Kingdom’s citizens with extra emphasis on women’s access to justice within the legal framework.