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11 Jun

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal: we cannot afford to wait any longer for justice for the Arab people

11 June 2014 – Amman, Jordan: In his keynote address at the opening session of the 2014 West Asia – North Africa (WANA) Forum, His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince El Hassan bin Talal made an ethical call for justice for the people of his region. HRH said recent tragedies such as the case of Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan, the senseless rape and hangings of two young girls in India, and the so-called honor killing of a woman in Pakistan, show that people “can no longer wait” for the law to be equal and accessible to all.

During his address, HRH asked the audience to observe a moment’s silence for the people of the world who are suffering through the consequences of a lack of access to justice, stating that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Calling for access to justice to be included in the next round of the United Nation’s (UN) Development Goals, HRH said: “by excluding access to justice from the development agenda we cannot truly transform the lives of people in a qualitative way.”

“The Arab states cannot afford another missed opportunity. The cost to human dignity and security are too high,” HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal said.

Alia Al Dalli, Regional Manager of the UN Development Programme’s Cairo Centre, said the uprisings across the Arab region in 2011 evidenced how a lack of legal empowerment and uneven application of the law can lead to disenchantment with the economic and political systems.

“The legal disempowerment of the poor was a key factor at the base of social movements that arose across the region in 2011,” Ms. Al Dalli said in her welcome address to the Forum.

WANA Forum Executive Director, Dr. Erica Harper, said this year’s Forum was “providing an opportunity for unlikely partners to come together to frankly discuss our most pressing development problems, unbarred by politics or organizational mandates.”

“The Forum is focused on the legal empowerment of the poorest of the poor and the most marginalized sections of society. Through a broad variety of sessions focused on a diverse range of issues like the informal economy, access to justice for refugees and enabling the empowerment of women and children, the WANA Forum will explore how legal empowerment can be used as a platform for resilience, innovation and growth,” Dr. Harper said.

HRH, who is chairing the 2014 Forum, said legal empowerment was not yet a reality in the WANA region: “Be it the aftermath of the instability produced by the Arab Spring, the conflict in Syria, or the impacts of environmental change and global economic recession, we lurch from one crisis to another like a driver of a car that is spinning out of control.”

“But containment strategies, reactive politicking and stimulus interventions won’t make our challenges go away – now or for that matter in the future. We must constantly remind ourselves that the consequences of our short term actions must align with the long term objectives of legal empowerment for all people,” HRH said.

Notes to editors:

  • The 2014 WANA Forum runs from 11-12 June in Amman, Jordan and is being attended by leaders, academics, policy-makers and religious officials from all over the Arab world. The Forum is looking specifically at how governments can work together to enable access to justice for people that have no recourse to legal mechanisms for their most fundamental rights.
  • HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal recently co-signed an urgent appeal to all UN member states along with former US secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to make access to justice an integral part of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Media Contacts:

Falha Brezat
Press Secretary to HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal
Email: Falha.br@gmail.com

Julia O’Brien
WANA Forum Communication Advisor
Cell: +962 (0) 778 465 204
Email: jobrien@majliselhassan.org



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