Handbook of Governance and Security
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Handbook of Governance and Security

Edited by James Sperling

The Handbook of Governance and Security examines the conceptual evolution of security governance and the different manifestations of regional security governance. In particular, James Sperling brings together unique contributions from leading scholars to explore the role of institutions that have emerged as critical suppliers of security governance and the ever-widening set of security issues that can be viewed profitably through a governance lens.
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Chapter 33: League of Arab States

Louise Fawcett


The League of Arab States (LAS), founded in 1945, is acknowledged to be one of the oldest regional organizations, predating even the establishment of the United Nations, but its relative longevity has not been matched by success in the different areas of economic, political or security integration (Hudson 1999b: 10–11). Indeed, despite the expectations attending its establishment, the League of Arab States has often been described as ineffective with adjectives like moribund or fossilized attached to discussions of its record (Korany 2013: 78, 94). Attempts at economic integration and the creation of a free trade area have been repeatedly frustrated or delayed. There have been some instances where concrete achievements have been recorded in the security domain, for example in the Kuwait–Iraq dispute of 1961 or the Lebanese civil war of 1975–90 (Pinfari 2009), but these have been relatively few and far between. A poll conducted by Al Jazeera in 2009 at the twenty-first Arab League summit revealed widespread disappointment in the League’s performance (Makary 2009). Viewed from a historical and comparative perspective, the Arab League is not alone among regional organizations in having a limited record in security governance (Fawcett 2004). Security, as traditionally conceived, is in the arena of ‘high politics’ and states have proved reluctant to commit themselves to institutionalized security cooperation when the costs are high and benefits uncertain. Non-state actors have played only minor roles in defining or regulating regional security.

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