News / Africa

Report Card on Democratic Reforms in Arab World Issued

Lisa Bryant

Jordan ranked first and Saudi Arabia last in a new report card on the state of democratic reforms in the Arab world. The Arab Democracy Index was released Monday in Paris.

Published by the The Arab Reform Initiative, or ARI, a network of 14 Arab and international think-tanks, this is only the second report card on the levels of reforms and democracy in the Arab world. None of the 10 Arab countries ranked in the new Arab Democracy Index get high marks. But Khalil Shikaki, who co-authored the study, says the overall trend is slightly encouraging.

"To a large extent, we determined that with the figures we got this year that all the Arab countries are exhibiting some signs of democratization," said Khalil Shikaki. "Some signs mean what? It means that in term of practices, they're really far off the target."

Still a number of the countries have enshrined democratic principles in their laws - even if they do not always adhere by them.

The index is composed of 40 indicators of democracy - such as whether countries have legal guarantees against torture, hold periodic and fair elections, or promote gender equality.

Jordan is ranked first, with a score of 620 out of a possible 1,000 points. Curiously, Shikaki says, Jordan does a much better job enshrining democracy through practice than in laws. Saudi Arabia ranks last and, Shikaki says, it is doing a poor job in both law and practice.

Some countries have slipped in ranking since the first report card, which was released last year. That's the case of the Palestinian territories and Yemen, which dropped respectively to seventh and ninth place out of 10. Shikaki can speak about the Palestinian territories first hand, as he is also director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

"In the case of Yemen and Palestine, these are the two most glaring failures in this report, because they have slipped back compared to where they were just a year before," he said. "We attribute that - and we have the evidence to show it - to the level of insecurity and destabilization that has been widespread in the last couple of years in the last two countries. "

By contrast, Lebanon has moved up in ranking, from sixth to fourth place. Again, Shikaki attributes the improvement to greater political stability.

"The more stable the countries are, the more likely they have a chance to democratize," said Shikaki. "It doesn't guarantee. But there is a better chance to democratize when you have internal stability."

Members of ARI hope to include more Arab countries in their democracy index in the years to come. They also hope the index will become a internationally recognized reference of progress toward democracy in the Arab world.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More