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Home / Monitored IGOS / Interregional Organisations / League of Arab States

League of Arab States

Arab League
Arab League

Name: League of Arab States (Arab League)

Acronym: ---
Year of foundation: 1945
Capital: Cairo, Egypt
Parliament: ---
Arab League documents: go to page




The Arab League (official name “League of Arab States”) is a regional organization of Arab states. The League’s main purposes are the creation of a closer relations among its members, the promotion of the collaboration among them, the protection of their independence and sovereignty, and the implementation of a common way for the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.

Member States


The Arab League has 22 full members and 4 observers:





22 March 1945

Saudi Arabia

Founding Countries
Full members

Jordan had the occial name Transjordan until 1946.
Egypt’s membership was suspended in 1979 after it signed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, and the League’s headquarters were moved from Cairo to Tunis. In 1987, Arab countries restored diplomatic relations with Egypt and the country was readmitted to the League in 1989 while the League’s headquarters moved back to Cairo.

5 May 1945


Founding Country
Full member

As North Yemen.
In 1967 South Yemen joined the League.
Since the unification (22 May 1990), the Republic of Yemen is member of the League.

28 March 1953


Full member


19 January 1956


Full member


1 October 1958


Full member


20 July 1961


Full member


16 August 1962


Full member


11 September 1971


Full members


29 September 1971


Full member


6 December 1971

United Arab Emirates

Full member


1 October 1973


Full member


26 November 1973


Full member


14 February 1974


Full member


9 September 1976

Palestinian Authority

Full member


4 September 1977


Full member


20 November 1993


Full member




















Brief History


The Arab League was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan (renamed Jordan after 1946), Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a member on 5 May 1945.
These seven Arab states were all formerly subject to the
Ottoman Empire and became independent after the defeat of Turkey
during World War I. In their intention, the Arab League wanted to strengthen the links among the members and to further the joint interests of all Arab nations. From 1953 onwards, other regions still under colonial control were welcome to join on achieving independence.
At the Cairo Summit of 1964, the Arab League initiated the creation of an organization 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
and in 1976 PLO was accepted in the Arab League.
The succession of wars in the middle east in the past half century, from the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 to the Gulf War in 1991, have placed severe strains on the League and have prevented it from achieving a close cohesion.
Egypt breaks ranks in 1979 by signing a peace treaty with Israel, resulting in expulsion from the League and the moving of the headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. Egypt has been readmitted in 1989, and the headquarters returned to Cairo
a year later.
The Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait in 1990 caused an even deeper rift, reflected in the fact that nearly all the neighbouring Arab states gave either practical or diplomatic support to the UN and NATO campaign against Iraq
in the Gulf War.
At the Beirut Summit on
March 28, 2002
the League adopted the Arab Peace Initiative, a Saudi-inspired peace plan for the Arab-Israeli conflict. The initiative offered full normalization of the relations with Israel. In exchange, Israel was demanded to withdraw from all occupied territories, including the Golan Heights, to recognize an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the 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
to promote the initiative.

Arab League's Structure and Governance


While the Arab League is committed to respecting the established government in each member state and to guaranteeing its sovereignty and independence, the League set itself several objectives from the outset: to maintain and strengthen the solidarity among the Arab states in the face of external threats; to ensure cohesion and peace between the member states by offering to arbitrate in the event of conflict between two or more member states and by opposing any recourse to force; and to ensure the cooperation of member states in various areas, e.g. social, legal, parliamentary, financial, economic and cultural affairs.
The principal institutions of the Arab League are: the Council of the League, the Joint Defence Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Committees and the Secretariat General.

The Council of the League
The Council of the League is the supreme organ. It is composed of representatives from the member states and holds general sessions twice a year. At the request of two members, extraordinary sessions can also be held whenever circumstances demand. The Council controls and coordinates the League’s activities; it sees that agreements passed by the various member states are implemented; and it appoints the Secretary General.
Each member state has one vote in the League Council, while The decisions of the Council are binding only for those states that have voted for them.

The Joint Defence Council
The Joint Defence Council was set up after the signing of the Treaty for mutual defence and economic cooperation in 1950. It is composed of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence from all the member states.

The Economic and Social Council
The Economic and Social Council was set up to replace the Economic Council which had been created following the Treaty in June 1950. Its aim is to establish the objectives of, and to promote the means for the economic and social development of the Arab world. It also coordinates the activities of the specialized agencies which have been set up in the framework of the League of Arab States. Among the most important of these are the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Fund for Assistance to Arab and African Countries, the Arab Monetary Fund, the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development, the Industrial Development Centre for Arab States, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Arab Council for Civil Aviation, the Arab Postal Union, the Arab Telecommunication Union, the Arab Labour Council, and the Council for Arab Unity.

The Committees
The Committees fall into three different categories:
- Committees set up by the main institutions of the League. Thus, at each General Session, the Council appoints Foreign Affairs Committees, Economic Committees, Social Committees, etc. The lifetime of these Committees is linked to the timing of the Session;
- “ad hoc” Committees, responsible for carrying out specific tasks. They are dissolved when their mandate has been carried out;
- “Permanent Committees”, which play a crucial part in the working of the League. They are neither temporary, hence their name, nor do they have a predetermined function, hence their importance. They study problems within, their sphere of competence and submit their findings to the Council of the League for approval. There are Permanent Committees for political matters, social questions, health, culture, economic matters, information, oil, finance and administration.

The Secretariat General
The Secretariat General is the institution of the League of Arab States responsible for implementing decisions taken by the Council of the League. It is headed by the Secretary General with the assistance of several Assistant Secretary Generals and a staff some of whom are permanent, and some temporary. The Secretary General is elected by a majority of two-thirds of the members, although in practice he has always been appointed unanimously. The appointment is for five years. His is a key role; for it is he who represents the Arab world at the international level.

The Arab League is based on principles that support and promote a unified Arab nationalism and a common position among Arabic states on various issues.
The Charter of the Arab League 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 and the committees were agreed in October 1951. Those of the Secretariat-General were agreed in May 1953.
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.

Official web site: (in Arab)

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