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What Razzaz’s instructions did not cover

Apr 11,2019 - Last updated at Apr 11,2019

It is good news that Prime Minister Omar Razzaz has issued instructions to the government and its agencies to "implement" the recent recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council on Jordan's human rights profile at the conclusion of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last year. However, the bad news is that only the "accepted" recommendations by Jordan will be implemented, and the rest are destined to remain either pending or rejected outright.

When the main UN human rights body considered Jordan's human rights performances under the so-called UPR procedure, it adopted a number of recommendations, some of which were readily accepted by the government, while some hardcore human rights recommendations were rejected. Director of the Prime Ministry’s Human Rights Department Khalil Abdallat, however, confirmed that the "unaccepted" recommendations will be reviewed in due course at some future time but stopped short of promising positive results.

The crux of the problem, therefore, is twofold: What did the Prime Minister mean when he asked the government and all its branches to implement the "acceptable" recommendations?

In order for the government to implement even the "acceptable recommendations", it would have to change laws and practices and this cannot be done by a mere "instruction" by the prime minister.

The implementation of a certain UN human rights recommendation entails much work, including, inter alia, amending laws and regulations by Parliament. This much the prime minister's instruction did not cover.

As for the recommendations of the UN council that were not accepted by the government, the declaration of an intention to review them at a later stage is not enough. For starters, the recommendations of the UN human rights body cannot be selectively endorsed, especially when hard human rights issues contained in them remain among the list of "unacceptable" recommendations. Hardcore human rights issues are covered by the "unacceptable" recommendations and Jordan's human rights record cannot attain its desired acclaim without endorsing the greater majority of the "unacceptable" list, if not all.

The government has, therefore, a lot of explaining to do in order to retain its high image as a true champion of human rights across the board. The list of "unacceptable" recommendations must be reduced to a bare minimum, something that can be done without disturbing religious or cultural values of the country.

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