Official website of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Speech of His Majesty King Abdullah II
At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
Davos, Switzerland
23 January 2004

In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Thank you, Professor, and thank you all. Let me say what a pleasure and an honour it is to join you again and to participate in these sessions. We are deeply grateful to you, Professor, for making this kind of global exchange a world-shaping force for the 21st century.

And let me say too, that Jordanians are extremely proud of their partnership with your institution. The Jordan Valley hosted the forum's successful extraordinary annual meeting last June. And we are looking forward to welcoming all of you, again this year, when the forum meets at the Dead Sea in May. I invite you to join us to articulate our shared determination to bridge divides, build trust and forge ahead with the new vision of peace, security and prosperity.


Every meeting of the forum these days seems to come at a time of special challenge. It has been fifteen years since the end of the Cold War, and we are still struggling to create a world of security and freedom. Conflicts and crises, of poverty, violence and division, have shadowed our new century's promise. Yet, in this week's meetings, and in many other multinational arenas, you will hear a tremendous amount of consensus on core solutions. People know what is needed and how to achieve it. In politics, economics and the environment, in science, technology and society, there's been a global march forward, despite the world's problems. We agree on the urgency of bridging global economic and cultural divides, expanding development and building democracy. There is equally broad agreement on security issues, on the need to deal with regional conflicts, address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and unite in the face of terrorism.


The time has come, however, to turn the emerging moral consensus on global development and security into practical and genuine achievement. Today's global dialogue must become a partnership for action, for a new political will, and new mechanisms that will make our commitments real.

Peace, equity and justice, are not just lofty goals. They are critical to the security of every nation, the success of every private enterprise and NGO, and the opportunities and hopes of every individual. These are the foundations of an open, global society. And that world is put at risk every day that we waste by inaction.

I am a believer in specifics, so let me suggest a few. First, conflict resolution. Recent history in Iraq, the Balkans and elsewhere, clearly shows the need to strengthen the multilateral political system. International structures should be made robust enough to do the job we ask of them, helping to broker peace and build nations.

We should also be closely coordinating international security arrangements within a collective approach. This would allow us to take the lead in setting the priorities in the war on terror.

In the economic dimension, we all know that opportunity is a powerful force in giving people a stake in a peaceful future. It is in our hands to create a global growth economy, access to education and technology, and, most important, justice, to show young people, that ours is a world of fairness, openness and hope. The Millennium Development Goals need to be reinforced with new benchmarks for assessing progress, for ensuring better and fairer trade, and for forging new global links.

This kind of commitment to cooperative, dynamic action, is very real to many of us in the Arab world. We know that we must make tangible strides in human development, for the sake of our people and for the sake of our future. Today, the average growth in the region is slower than other developing countries. At the same time, with more than half of the Arab population under the age of 18, almost 6 million new job seekers enter the labour force each year. Average unemployment rates are now above 15 per cent. This means that there are not enough jobs and there is not enough hope.

It takes all sectors to address these issues. A responsive, transparent governance, an educational system dedicated to excellence, and a vigorous private sector that can harness the region's tremendous human potential.

Recently, the Arab Business Council of the World Economic Forum has brought together private-sector representatives from across the region. In Aqaba last month, the council drafted a blueprint for action to support economic growth. I understand that it has been adopted here at Davos. It includes initiatives for educational and judicial reform, and an explicit call to governments to commit to openness and freedom. The Arab Business Council is also building bridges with other private sector groups around the world. Next month, members of the council will join me in Malaysia to cement an emerging partnership with the New Asian Leaders, a new body of the World Economic Forum, officially launched earlier this morning here in Davos.

But we all know that economic remedies on their own cannot yield long-term results if they are not paired with serious political and social liberalisation. Initiative, excellence and innovation cannot take hold in closed societies.


We cannot talk about growth and stability in my region, or the globe, we cannot take effective action for reform and development, without addressing a core conflict that threatens our world, the long and hateful cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. As in other global concerns, the world knows the right thing to do. Last year, both parties and the international community recognised the path set forth by the Arab Summit resolution and the Road Map. This initiative provides clear principles and mechanisms for a just and lasting solution: two secure states, Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories and dismantling of settlements, two capitals in Jerusalem, and an agreed solution to the refugee issue. This is the unavoidable road to peace.

Now, with every day of delay, there is harm to the region and the world. For those involved, much is at stake: families and communities destroyed, and youthful hope that is lost to poverty and despair. For the international community, there is also a lot at stake, the future of global peace, and the credibility of the world's commitment to global justice. The international community cannot afford to let the collective suicide of Palestinians and Israelis feed rage and violence in the region and the world. That means rejecting terror, but also condemning repression. And it means moving forward with determination, to achieve a just and lasting peace. It is an effort that requires the active leadership of the United States, and a collective international alliance for peace. It would be in tune with the desires of the overwhelming majority of Israelis. It would garner the support of the Arab states and Europe for the Palestinian leadership. It would in fact measure our collective resolve to translate the global moral consensus into a genuine practical achievement.


Today we face challenges in my region and around the world, but we also face unprecedented promise. Billions of people stand at the brink of new possibilities. This is what makes any failure so bitter, and the sense of urgency so great. It is in our hands today to create not simply promises, but deeds. An era of peace, a global growth economy, expanded access to education and technology, and most important, a world of justice.

The future belongs to those who see the world in its full dimensions, an undivided sphere. On such a globe, every point is a centre, and every centre is a person, entitled to prosper and succeed, in peace and security. So let us defy separation and isolation. Let us avert the clash of civilisations, and help the overlap of cultures. Let us partner for peace. But let us act now.

Thank you very much.

Thank you very much. Peace be upon you.