League of Arab States (LAS)

Alan Patterson, Craig McLean

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Syria crisis has exercised the minds of policymakers, diplomats and the general public at large for several years now. As the country descends ever further into a seemingly bottomless pit of violence, the parallels between the situation in Syria at the time of writing and the disintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990s are all too clear-despite worldwide condemnation, the slaughter is continuing. And just as in the former-Yugoslavia, the international community appears to be hamstrung as how best to end the crisis in Syria, let alone resolve it. As Bosnia and Herzegovina imploded, the relative powerlessness of the European Union (EU) became all-too apparent; a conflict started in its own backyard could not be halted by the European powers despite all the then optimism of an evercloser union within Europe. With startling echoes of the Bosnian experience (at least in terms of a new political beginning for the region; albeit one of uncertainty), the League of Arab States, more commonly called the Arab League (LAS), has been unable to resolve the Syria crisis despite an earlier success within Libya, although the current situation in Libya shows that the early success in deposing President Gaddafi and the beginnings of a new democratic republic have not gone well with opposing militias causing much strife throughout the country. In an attempt to understand why the Arab League has been so relatively ineffective in the case of Syria, this chapter draws upon the theoretical literature from International Relations (IR), and specifically the literature on European Integration. Noting the institutional and organizational similarities between the European Union (EU) and the LAS, the chapter argues that the current impasse within the League can be explained by the divergent foreign policies of its member-states within an area traditionally labeled as “high politics”. Had their foreign policies on Syria converged, a more effective League response could have been anticipated, as apparently was the case recently within Libya. Of course, the problem with writing a case study on contemporaneous events, in this case the Syria crisis can be problematic. Even at the time of writing this chapter the situation in the Middle East is changing and military actions and civil war are spilling over borders into other states, most notably the relative success of jihadist groups, which have merged under the name of ISIS in Iraq. The authors have, therefore, borne in mind these constant changes while attempting to analyze the LAS’s role in these events.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Organisations and the Implementation of the Responsibility to Protect
Subtitle of host publicationThe humanitarian crisis in Syria
EditorsDaniel Silander, Don Wallace
Place of PublicationAbingdon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781138891265
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2015

Publication series

NameGlobal Politics and the Responsibility to Protect


Dive into the research topics of 'League of Arab States (LAS)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this