CRF Blog

Backgrounder on The Arab League

by Bill Hayes

Backgrounders from the Council on Foreign Relations are primers on pressing world issues, concerns, and organizations. They usually include histories, summaries, images, graphs, video, and links to additional resources.

A recent Backgrounder was on The Arab League.

Founded in March 1945, the League of Arab States (or Arab League) is a loose confederation of twenty-two Arab nations, including Palestine, whose broad mission is to improve coordination among its members on matters of common interest. The League was chartered in response to concerns about postwar colonial divisions of territory as well as strong opposition to the emergence of a Jewish state in Palestine, but it has long been criticized for disunity and poor governance. Critics also say it has traditionally been more representative of its various autocratic regimes than of Arab citizens.

The organization had the opportunity to advance social interests with the push for Palestinian statehood at the UN and the unrest in many Arab countries in 2011. Some critics see positive developments in the League’s actions in Libya, where it supported a no-fly zone and the ouster of Muammar al-Qaddafi, and in Syria, where it orchestrated a fact-finding mission to observe the conflict and called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down after months of deadly clashes with protesters. [more]