Resilience: A Road-Map to Building a Secure and Sustainable Future for West Asia and North Africa

On March 5, The Hague Institute for Global Justice had the privilege of welcoming His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan to The Hague Institute to discuss “Resilience: A road-map to building a secure and sustainable future for West Asia and North Africa” as part of its ongoing Distinguished Speaker Series.

In his speech at The Hague Institute, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal addressed the importance of international cooperation and collaboration in addressing pressing issues such as human security in the Middle East. Prince El Hassan bin Talal also underlined education and internationally competitive literacy as a solution to deep-seated social and religious divisions. He placed particular importance on joining efforts towards regional stabilization as the road to good global governance. | Listen to the event audio

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal spoke of the regional challenges to development including the continued Isreali occupation of the Palestinian territories and the emergence of powerful and tyrannical bureaucracies in almost all Arab countries. He emphasized the topic of resilience in the context of intellectual bankruptcy of most Arab regimes and the reemergence of political Islam, and stressed the need for a cultural response, particularly a human response, to current challenges.

Prince El Hassan addressed the stereotypes of extremism and Islamist militancy but highlighted that this form of militancy is not unrelated to current political shocks. He addressed the reasons for this radicalization as being reflected by the Human Development Index. In regards to human development today, Prince El Hassan pointed to the shared challenges faced in West Asia and North Africa as being a lack of equality and opportunity, and a rise of a parallel economy and parallel polity. He expressed the wish that rational states could strengthen networking ability to bring to forth a vision of empowerment and enablement of the poor and concern over an increase in new platforms being created to exploit the underprivileged.

In addressing the need for regional stabilization, Prince El Hassan bin Talal expressed the view that to fight against terrorism and extremism, it is important to emphasize a readiness to develop good governance. He stated “it is only when you start putting your home in order that you can develop a response to corruption.” He further emphasized the need for pluralism and ‘respect for the other’ in speaking about Arab citizenship. “If you can be a European, a Bavarian, a German and a Catholic, why can’t you be an Arab, a Syrian, an Aleppin, and an orthodox citizen of the region?”

Speaking about resilience, Prince El Hassan bin Talal referred to the Gross National Happiness Index and the need for economic wellness, environmental wellness and mental wellness. He recalled the millions of Syrians affected by trauma as the result of the ongoing conflict. He proposed a triple helix of participation involving political, economic and civil society is needed in order to develop resilience. “Forget the titles, let us sit down and talk about building our future.”

Prince El Hassan bin Talal expressed hope for the return to some kind of human equation and for consideration by the United Nations for a call for a new world humanitarian order. He expressed frustration at the current violations of basic human decency and stressed the centrality of human dignity to the equation of sustainability and development. His Royal Highness further noted the importance of looking at the challenges facing a region rather than continuing to look at a “narrow bi-lateral vision of our friend of today or our friend of tomorrow.”

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal extended an open invitation to The Hague Institute for Global Justice for a roundtable discussion in Jordan, and on behalf of the Arab Thought Forum expressed the hope that this idea would be realized over the next year.

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