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The National Charter

In order not to relive the difficulties of the 1950s, a sixty-member royal commission was appointed by King Hussein in April 1990 with the aim of drafting guidelines for the conduct of political party activity in Jordan. The commission comprised members representing all the political groups in the country, and within months produced a written consensus in the form of the National Charter. The Charter was adopted in June 1991 at a national conference of 2000 leading Jordanians.

The National Charter outlines general guidelines for constructive dialogue between the executive and legislative organs, as well as between decision-makers and political and intellectual elites concerning questions of authority, rights and responsibility. It enunciates the terms under which political parties could operate -namely, within the framework of the Constitution and free of foreign funding- and also emphasizes broad agreement on the need for the political reflection of Jordan’s cultural pluralism. Perhaps most importantly, the Charter has given Jordanian leaders a sense of direction, an insurance policy against outbidding by unrestrained groups, and a degree of predictability in political affairs. It has also eased concerns about the consequences of unbridled freedom of expression. The National Charter, along with the Jordanian Constitution, provides a compass for the national debate on fundamental issues.