• Arab League, also called League of Arab States (LAS), is an intergovernmental pan-Arab organisation of all Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • It was formed in Cairo, Egypt on 22nd March 1945, following the adoption of the Alexandria Protocol in 1944.

Origin and Development

  • The Arab League came into being after a Pact of the League was signed at Cairo on March 22, 1945 by the countries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan,  Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen that had achieved independence by then.
  • The Pact was an initiative of the then Prime Minister of Egypt, Nahas Pasha, and was supported by the British government.
  • The League was later joined by 14 other nations and the PLO.
  • Palestine is considered independent de jure.


  • Currently, the League has 22 members.
  • The Charter of the Arab League, also known as the Pact of the League of Arab States, is the founding treaty of the Arab League. Adopted in 1945, it stipulates that “the League of Arab States shall be composed of the independent Arab States that have signed this Pact.”
  • 22 member states: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen
  • 5 Observer states: Armenia, Brazil, Eritrea, India and Venezuela.
Arab League

Objective of the Arab League

  • It aims 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.
    • The signing on 13th April 1950, of an agreement on joint defense and economic cooperation also committed the signatories to coordination of military defense measures.
  • 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“.

Structure of the Arab League

  • The League consists of the Council, the Special Ministerial Committees, the General-Secretariat and the Specialised Agencies.
  • The Council is the principal political organ, consisting of foreign ministers of all the member-countries. It meets twice a year to supervise the execution of agreements between the member-states, set guidelines for cooperation with other international organisations in the political, economic and social spheres, and mediate in disputes between members or a member and a country outside the League.
    • Each member has one vote on the Council, and decisions are binding only on those states that have voted for them.
  • The Special Committees are attracted to the Council. They draw up common policies for the regulation and advancement of cooperation in their respective fields (information, internal affairs, justice, housing, transport, social affairs, youth and sports, health environment telecommunications and electricity).
  • The General-Secretariat is headed by a Secretary-General elected by the Council for a five-year term. It executes the decisions of the Council and is largely responsible for internal administration.


  • Through institutions, notably the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the Economic and Social Council of its Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU), the League facilitates political, economic, cultural, scientific, and social programmes designed to promote the interests of the Arab world.
  • It has served as a forum for the member states to coordinate policy, arrange studies of and committees as to matters of common concern, settle inter-state disputes and 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.


  • The Arab League has been criticized for its inability to effectively address the issues it was created to handle.
  • Many question the relevance of the institution, with its slogan of “one Arab nation with an eternal mission” being seen as outdated.
    • This has led to instances where important events, like the annual leaders’ summit, have been postponed or canceled.
  • The League has also been criticized for its lack of effectiveness in enforcing decisions and resolving conflicts among its members. It has been accused of disunity, poor governance, and being more representative of autocratic regimes than of the Arab people.

Syria Readmitted to the Arab League

After a 12-year suspension, Arab government delegates voted to reinstate Syria in the Arab League (2023).

  • Suspension:
    • Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 after it violently cracked down on anti-government protests.
    • The Arab League accused Syria of not complying with a peace plan that called for a withdrawal of military forces, the release of political prisoners, and the start of a dialogue with opposition groups.
    • Despite attempts at peace negotiations and ceasefire agreements, the violence continued, leading to Syria’s suspension.
    • This had economic and diplomatic consequences for Syria.
  • Readmission:
    • The move signifies softness in relations between Syria and other Arab governments and is seen as the start of a gradual process to resolve the crisis in Syria.
      • The Crisis in Syria has resulted in the displacement of roughly half of the pre-war population of 21 million and the deaths of over 300,000 civilians.
    • A committee involving Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq will be established to help Syria achieve these goals.
      • But the decision does not mean a resumption of relationships between Arab states and Syria as it is up to each country to decide this individually.
    • It calls for a resolution of the crisis resulting from Syria’s civil war, including the flight of refugees to neighboring countries and drug smuggling across the region.

Consequences of the recent development 

  • In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, the decision to allow Syria to return involves a commitment to ongoing talks with Arab states in order to progressively seek a political solution to the situation.
  • The deadly earthquake in Turkey forced Western governments to remove or lessen sanctions placed on Syria. 
  • Another driving force in Syria’s rehabilitation is the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran, which was facilitated by China. 
  • Analysts think the easing of hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Iran has benefited Syria, which has relied on the former since the civil conflict began.

India and the Arab League

  • Being conferred observer status in 2007, India was the first member to enter the League although it does not have an Arab community, neither does it have an indigenous Arabic-speaking population.
  • Trade between India and Arab League members was valued at US$30 billion in 2007.
  • India’s major exports to Arab League countries are chemicals, automobiles, machinery, foodstuff and other fast-moving products, while it is a large importer of Arab oil and gas.
  • India also has a large diaspora in the Arab League countries of about 15 million, of which some 20% are professionals.
  • Oman and India enjoy particularly good relations, an example being; both countries exchange ship visits on a regular basis.
    • Recently, Oman has granted India berthing rights for Indian naval ships. The Indian navy has also been training Omani naval forces for many years.

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