The Arab League ( Arabic : الجامعة العربية ‎‎ al-Jāmiʻah al-ʻArabīyah ), formally the League of Arab States ( Arabic : جامعة الدول العربية ‎‎ Jāmiʻat ad-Duwal al-ʻArabīyah ), is a regional organization of Arab countries in and around North Africa , the Horn of Africa and Arabia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Kingdom of Egypt , Kingdom of Iraq , Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1949), Lebanon , Saudi Arabia , and Syria . [4] Yemen joined as a member on 5 May 1945. Currently, the League has 22 members , but Syria 's participation has been suspended since November 2011, as a consequence of government repression during the Syrian Civil War . [5]

The League's main goal is to "draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries". [7]

Through institutions, such as the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the Economic and Social Council of the Arab League's Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU), the Arab League facilitates political, economic, cultural, scientific, and social programmes designed to promote the interests of the Arab world . [8] It has served as a forum for the member states to coordinate their policy positions, to deliberate on matters of common concern, to settle some Arab disputes and to limit conflicts such as the 1958 Lebanon crisis . The League has served as a platform for the drafting and conclusion of many landmark documents promoting economic integration. One example is the Joint Arab Economic Action Charter , which outlines the principles for economic activities in the region.

Each member state has one vote in the League Council , and decisions are binding only for those states that have voted for them. The aims of the league in 1945 were to strengthen and coordinate the political, cultural, economic and social programs of its members and to mediate disputes among them or between them and third parties. Furthermore, the signing of an agreement on Joint Defence and Economic Cooperation on 13 April 1950 committed the signatories to coordination of military defence measures. In March 2015, the Arab League General Secretary announced the establishment of a Joint Arab Force with the aim of counteracting extremism and other threats to the Arab States. The decision was reached while Operation Decisive Storm was intensifying in Yemen. Participation in the project is voluntary, and the army intervenes only at the request of one of the member states. The growing militarization of the region and the increase in violent civil wars as well as terrorist movements are the reason behind the creation of the JAF, financed by the rich Gulf countries. [9]

In the early 1970s, the Economic Council of the League of Arab States put forward a proposal to create the Joint Arab Chambers of Commerce across the European states. That led, under the decree of the League of Arab States no. K1175/D52/G, to the decision by the Arab governments to set up the Arab British Chamber of Commerce which was mandated to "promote, encourage and facilitate bilateral trade" between the Arab world and its major trading partner, the United Kingdom.

The Arab League has similarly played a role in shaping school curricula by advancing the role of women in the Arab societies, promoting child welfare, encouraging youth and sports programs, preserving Arab cultural heritage and fostering cultural exchanges between the member states. Literacy campaigns have been launched, intellectual works were reproduced and modern technical terminology is translated for the use within member states. The league encourages measures against crime and drug abuse and deals with labour issues, particularly among the emigrant Arab workforce.


Following adoption of the Alexandria Protocol in 1944, the Arab League was founded on 22 March 1945. It aimed to be a regional organisation of Arab states with a focus to developing the economy, resolving disputes and coordinating political aims. [10] Other countries later joined the league. [11] Each country was given one vote in the council. The first major action was the joint intervention, allegedly on behalf of the majority Arab population being uprooted as the state of Israel emerged in 1948 (and in response to popular protest in the Arab world), but a major participant in this intervention, Transjordan, had agreed with the Israelis to divide up the Arab Palestinian state proposed by the United Nations General Assembly, and Egypt intervened primarily to prevent its rival in Amman from accomplishing its objective. It was followed by the creation of a mutual defence treaty two years later. A common market was established in 1965. [10]


The area of members of the Arab League covers over 13,000,000 km 2 (5,000,000 sq mi) and straddles two continents: Africa and Asia . The area consists of large arid deserts, namely the Sahara . Nevertheless, it also contains several highly fertile lands, such as the Nile Valley , the Jubba and Shebelle Valley of Somalia , the High Atlas Mountains and the Fertile Crescent , which stretches over Mesopotamia and the Levant . The area comprises deep forests in southern Arabia and parts of the world's longest river, the Nile .

Member states

Starting with only six members in 1945, the Arab League now occupies an area spanning around 14 million km² and counts 22 members, and 4 observer states. The 22 members today include three of the largest African countries ( Sudan , Algeria and Libya ) and the largest country in the Middle East ( Saudi Arabia ).

There was a continual increase in membership during the second half of the 20th century, with an additional 15 Arab states being admitted. Syria was suspended following the 2011 uprising, but its seat was later given to Syrian opposition . As of 2015, there are a total of 22 member states. The Arab League member states are as follows:

and 4 observer states :

On 22 February 2011, following the start of the Libyan Civil War and the use of military force against civilians, the Arab League Secretary-General, Amr Moussa , stated that Libya's membership in the Arab League had been suspended: "the organisation has decided to halt the participation of the Libyan delegations from all Arab League sessions". [13] That makes Libya the second country in the League's history to have a frozen membership. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi declared that the League was illegitimate, saying: "The Arab League is finished. There is no such thing as the Arab League". [14] [15] On 25 August 2011, Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby announced it was "about time" Libya's full member status was restored. The National Transitional Council , the partially recognised interim government of Libya, sent a representative to be seated at the Arab League meeting on 17 August to participate in a discussion as to whether to readmit Libya to the organisation. [16]

The Arab Parliament recommended the suspension of member states Syria and Yemen on 20 September 2011 over persistent reports of disproportionate violence against regime opponents and activists during the Arab Spring . [17] A vote on 12 November agreed to the formal suspension of Syria four days after the vote, giving Assad a last chance to avoid suspension. Syria, Lebanon and Yemen voted against the motion, and Iraq abstained. [3] There was a large amount of criticism as the Arab League sent in December 2011 a commission "monitoring" violence on people protesting against the regime. The commission was headed by Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, who served as head of Omar al-Bashir's military intelligence, while war crimes , including genocide , were allegedly committed on his watch. [3] [3] [3] On 6 March 2013, the Arab League granted to the Syrian National Coalition Syria's seat in the Arab League. [2] On 9 March 2014, the pan-Arab group's secretary general Nabil al-Arabi said that Syria's seat at the Arab League would remain vacant until the opposition completes the formation of its institutions. [3]

Politics and administration

The Arab League is a political organization which tries to help integrate its members economically, and solve conflicts involving member states without asking for foreign assistance. It possesses elements of a state representative parliament while foreign affairs are often dealt with under UN supervision.

The Charter of the Arab League [7] endorsed the principle of an Arab homeland while respecting the sovereignty of the individual member states. The internal regulations of the Council of the League [24] and the committees [26] were agreed in October 1951. Those of the Secretariat-General were agreed in May 1953. [28]

Since then, governance of the Arab League has been based on the duality of supra-national institutions and the sovereignty of the member states. Preservation of individual statehood derived its strengths from the natural preference of ruling elites to maintain their power and independence in decision making. Moreover, the fear of the richer that the poorer may share their wealth in the name of Arab nationalism , the feuds among Arab rulers , and the influence of external powers that might oppose Arab unity can be seen as obstacles towards a deeper integration of the league.

Mindful of their previous announcements in support of the Arabs of Palestine the framers of the Pact were determined to include them within the League from its inauguration. This was done by means of an annex that declared: [7]

At the Cairo Summit of 1964, the Arab League initiated the creation of an organisation representing the Palestinian people. The first Palestinian National Council convened in East Jerusalem on 29 May 1964. The Palestinian Liberation Organization was founded during this meeting on 2 June 1964. Palestine was shortly admitted in to the Arab League, represented by the PLO. Today, State of Palestine is a full member of the Arab League.

At the Beirut Summit on 28 March 2002, the league adopted the Arab Peace Initiative , [29] a Saudi-inspired peace plan for the Arab–Israeli conflict . The initiative offered full normalisation of the relations with Israel . In exchange, Israel was required to withdraw from all occupied territories , including the Golan Heights , to recognise Palestinian independence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip , with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a "just solution" for the Palestinian refugees . The Peace Initiative was again endorsed at 2007 in the Riyadh Summit. In July 2007, the Arab League sent a mission, consisting of the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers, to Israel to promote the initiative. Following Venezuela 's move to expel Israeli diplomats amid the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict , Kuwaiti member of parliament Waleed Al-Tabtabaie proposed moving Arab League headquarters to Caracas , Venezuela . [30] On 13 June 2010, Amr Mohammed Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, visited the Gaza Strip , the first visit by an official of the Arab League since Hamas' armed takeover in 2007.

In 2015, the Arab League voiced support for Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh , who was deposed in the 2011 uprising . [31]


No. Date Host City
1 13–17 January 1964 Egypt Cairo
2 5–11 September 1964 Egypt Alexandria
3 13–17 September 1965 Morocco Casablanca
4 29 August 1967 Sudan Khartoum
5 21–23 December 1969 Morocco Rabat
6 26–28 November.1973 Algeria Algiers
7 29 October 1974 Morocco Rabat
8 25–26 October 1976 Egypt Cairo
9 2–5 November.1978 Iraq Baghdad
10 20–22 November 1979 Tunisia Tunis
11 21–22 November 1980 Jordan Amman
12 6–9 September 1982 Morocco Fes
13 1985 Morocco Casablanca
14 1987 Jordan Amman
15 June 1988 Algeria Algiers
16 1989 Morocco Casablanca
17 1990 Iraq Baghdad
18 1996 Egypt Cairo
19 27–28 March 2001 Jordan Amman
20 27–28 March 2002 Lebanon Beirut
21 1 March 2003 Egypt Sharm el-Sheikh
22 22–23 May 2004 Tunisia Tunis
23 22–23 March 2005 Algeria Algiers
24 28–30 March 2006 Sudan Khartoum
25 27–28 March 2007 Saudi Arabia Riyadh
26 29–30 March 2008 Syria Damascus
27 28–30 March 2009 Qatar Doha
28 27–28 March 2010 Libya Sirte
29 27–29 March 2012 Iraq Baghdad
30 21–27 March 2013 Qatar Doha [32]
31 25–26 March 2014 Kuwait Kuwait City [33]
32 28–29 March 2015 Egypt Sharm El Sheikh [34]
33 7 April 2016 [CANCELLED] Morocco Marrakesh
34 Spring 2017 Bahrain Manama


The Joint Defence Council of the Arab League is one of the Institutions of the Arab League . [35] It was established under the terms of the Joint Defence and Economic Co-operation Treaty of 1950 to coordinate the joint defence of the Arab League member states .

The Arab League as an Organization has no military Force, like the UN or EU, but at the 2007 summit, the Leaders decided to reactivate their joint defense and establish a peacekeeping force to deploy in South Lebanon, Darfur, Iraq, and other hot spots.

At a 2015 summit in Egypt, member nations agreed in principle to form a joint military force. [36]

Emergency summits

No. Date Host City
1 21–27 September 1970 Egypt Cairo
2 17–28 October 1976 Saudi Arabia Riyadh
3 7–9 September 1985 Morocco Casablanca
4 8–12 November 1987 Jordan Amman
5 7–9 June 1988 Algeria Algiers
6 23–26 June 1989 Morocco Casablanca
7 28–30 March 1990 Iraq Baghdad
8 9–10 August 1990 Egypt Cairo
9 22–23 June 1996 Egypt Cairo
10 21–22 October 2000 Egypt Cairo
11 7 January 2016 Saudi Arabia Riyadh
  • Two summits are not added to the system of Arab League summits:
    • Anshas , Egypt: 28–29 May 1946.
    • Beirut, Lebanon: 13 – 15 November 1958.
  • Summit 14 in Fes, Morocco, occurred in two stages:
    • On 25 November 1981: the 5-hour meeting ended without an agreement on document.
    • On 6–9 September 1982.