Jordan undertook political reform long before the Arab Spring of 2011, but its 2005 National Agenda blueprint for progress towards democratization was only partially implemented. Calls for greater freedoms across the region increased domestic pressure on the government to hasten promised reforms. During 2011, royal committees were mandated to open dialogue and recommend changes in the electoral and political framework, including Jordan’s constitution. As a result, Parliament passed 41 amendments, the first major changes to the constitution since 1952; established an independent Constitutional Court and the Independent Electoral Commission in 2012; and voted on a highly-contested elections law to govern parliamentary elections in 2013.
Despite this progress, challenges remain. Many Jordanians are impatient with the pace of reform and cynical about government corruption. Institutions responsible for good governance lack the ability to respond fully to citizens’ needs, citizen participation is limited, and many Jordanians lack opportunities to give meaningful input on issues that affect their daily lives.
USAID has supported a concerted effort to strengthen civil society, rule of law, and good governance since 2002. We support government and civil society efforts to expand citizen participation and electoral reform, strengthen an independent judiciary, advance human rights, improve local governance and service delivery, and promote increased transparency and accountability to combat corruption. A core element of our work is fostering the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in political life.
Our impacts in this sector include:
- Created a Future Judges Scholarship Program for the best university students to obtain law degrees and commit to serving as judges, significantly increasing the pool of future female judges.
- Conducted election administration capacity building sessions for more than 800 staff members from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and Ministry of Political Development under the internationally recognized program, Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE); nine staff received full accreditation as BRIDGE facilitators.
- Supported the establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission; engaged more than 3,000 intellectuals, officials, activists, and youth in conferences to discuss election reform, and established a national coalition of more than 200 CSOs to campaign for improved election procedures.
Last updated: May 10, 2013