UPDATE: Overview of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Legal System and Research

By Bianca C. Isaias and Fred Jennings

Update by Tamara Sakijha

Tamara Sakijha is of Palestinian origin and grew up in Jordan. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a literature degree focusing on critical theory. During her undergraduate studies, Tamara was the research assistant to Professor Thomas W. Smith completing research and helping with translation for Prof. Smith's book titled "Human Rights and War Through Civilian Eyes." She is finishing her law degree at NYU Law School, is the Senior Articles Editor of the NYU Journal of International Law & Politics, and is a member of the 2020 NYU Law ICC Moot Court Team. She has participated in various volunteer projects including tutoring programs for inmates, challenging solitary confinement, and teaching high school immigrant and refugee students. While student at NYU Law School, Tamara has worked as a judicial intern at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and as a summer intern for DLA Piper in New York.

Published January/February 2020

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1. Historical Introduction

Jordan is a young country occupying an ancient land that bears the traces of many civilizations. As of the year 2019, the country’s population is approximately 9.7 million people. The country shares its borders with Israel and the occupied West Bank to the west, Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, and Saudi Arabia to the east and south. Relative in size to Austria and Portugal, Jordan encompasses a total land area of 92,300 square kilometers (91,971 square kilometers of land and 329 square kilometers of water).[1]

Jordan encompasses three major physiographic regions from east to west: the desert, the uplands east of the Jordan River, and the Jordan Valley (which form the northwest portion of the Great Rift Valley of Africa). The country’s natural resources are very limited; water is scarce, there is relatively little arable land, and there are few sources of energy. The Jordanian mineral industry, however, has a long history, of which the most prominent are phosphates and potash.

With insufficient supplies of water, oil, and other natural resources, the government relies heavily on foreign assistance. Trade and finance combined account for nearly one-third of Jordan’s GDP.[2] The country’s economy is further plagued by high unemployment rates, regional instability, corruption and huge influxes of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Aware of its economic problems, the government of Jordan recently introduced a series of ambitious plans to strengthen its economy. In May 2015, King Abdullah II and then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour launched “Jordan 2025,” also referred to as “Vision 2025.” The plan serves as a blueprint to transform Jordan’s economy and society. It includes a number of goals including increasing the GDP growth rate, reducing unemployment, and lowering the poverty rate. The plan serves as a general outline while accompanying programs provide specific details on achieving the goals of Jordan 2025.[3]

For over 400 years, Jordan was administered by the Ottoman Empire. By the early 20th century, Ottoman influence was waning, and terminated at the close of World War I. After the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Jordan (then the Emirate of Transjordan) was administered by British mandatory representatives. This mandate period lasted until the spring of 1946, when the United Nations recognized Jordan as an independent state.[4] On January 8, 1952, a new constitution was ratified, creating a constitutional monarchy in Jordan. The constitution included a formal separation of powers doctrine and a three-branch governmental structure. Additionally, it created a bipartite legislative system and codified the parliamentary election process.[5] Therefore, Jordan’s system of government can be characterized as a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Currently, Jordan is divided into 12 governorates.[6]

2. General Overview of System

Jordan is governed by a constitutional, hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. The King retains the power to promulgate and ratify laws, direct the enactment of regulations, ratify treaties and agreements, declare war, conclude peace, dismiss the Prime Minister, appoint Senators, adjourn and suspend the Chamber of Deputies, and is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Jordan’s constitution provides for a bicameral National Assembly, with a Senate, as its upper chamber, and a House of Representatives as its lower chamber. The aʿyan (“notables”) of the Senate are appointed by the king for four-year terms; elections for the nuwwāb (“deputies”) of the House of Representatives, scheduled at least every four years, frequently have been suspended. Jordan’s constitution provides for a bicameral National Assembly (Majlis al-Ummah), with a Senate (Majlis al-Aʿyan) as its upper chamber, and a House of Representatives (Majlis al-Nuwwāb) as its lower chamber.

3. Constitution

Jordan’s Organic Law of April 1928 was the instrument through which a consultative parliament was established under the British Mandate. Following Jordan’s independence in May 1946, this instrument was adapted into the Constitution. A second Constitution was drafted and ratified on November 28, 1947. However, on January 1, 1952, King Talal ratified a more liberal Constitution, which is still in use today.[7]

The Constitution has nine chapters. Chapter one states the country’s governmental structure, official religion, language, capital, and flag; chapter two is a provision of the rights and duties of Jordanian citizens; chapter three is the section on general provisions and general organization of the country; chapter four details the executive branch’s composition and powers; chapter five details the legislative branch’s composition and powers; chapter six details the judicial branch’s composition and powers; chapter seven deals with financial matters, such as taxes and the General Budget Law; chapter eight outlines other governmental and municipal structures, special courts, emergency and martial law (called the Defense Law), and the duties of the army; chapter nine deals with the enforcement and repealing of laws.

4. Bill of Rights or Equivalent

4.1. Jordanian Nationality

Jordanian nationals are defined as any person whose father is of Jordanian nationality[8], any person born in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan whose mother is of Jordanian nationality and whose father is of an unknown nationality, is stateless, or whose filiations is not established, any person born in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of unknown parents, all members of the Bedouin Tribes of the North, and any non-Jewish person possessing Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954.[9]

Any Arab [10] who has resided continuously in Jordan for at least 15 years may acquire Jordanian nationality and renounce their nationality of origin – provided they are of good conduct, have lawful means of livelihood, are of sound mind, do not suffer from an impairment that would make them a burden on society, and takes an oath of allegiance and loyalty to the King before a justice of the peace.[11] The King may also, with approval of the Council of Ministers, grant Jordanian nationality to any emigrant.[12] A foreign woman may obtain Jordanian nationality by making a written statement three years after her marriage to a Jordanian man if she is an Arab or after five years of marriage if she is non-Arab.[13] A Jordanian woman married to a non-Jordanian may retain her nationality; if she renounces her nationality and her marriage subsequently dissolves, she may recover her Jordanian nationality.[14] If a foreign widow or divorced woman marries a Jordanian man, her children before the marriage do not automatically acquire Jordanian citizenship.[15] A non-Jordanian may naturalize if they have regularly been a resident of Jordan for at least four years and intends to reside in Jordan by application to the Council of Ministers.[16]

A person who acquires Jordanian nationality is considered Jordanian in every respect, except that they cannot hold a political or diplomatic position for at least 10 years after acquiring nationality. They may hold a municipal, village or trade union office 5 years after acquiring nationality.[17]

Any Jordanian may renounce their nationality to acquire that of an Arab State;[18] however, they must obtain approval from the Council of Ministers to renounce Jordanian nationality for that of a non-Arab State.[19] Jordanians may retain their Jordanian citizenship if they acquire the nationality of a foreign State.[20]

A person may lose their Jordanian citizenship if they enter the military service of another State without prior permission from the Council of Ministers, if they enter the civil service of another State, if they enter the service of an enemy State, or commit or attempt to commit an act deemed to endanger the peace and security of Jordan.[21] A person’s naturalization may be cancelled if they have committed or attempted to commit an act deemed to endanger the peace and security of Jordan or if they made misrepresentations on their application for naturalization.[22]

4.2. Rights and Duties of Jordanian Citizens Under the Constitution

Chapter two of the Jordanian Constitution serves as a Bill of Rights for citizens. It states all Jordanians are equal before the law and no discrimination shall take place based on race, language or religion.[23] No detention or imprisonment is allowed except in accordance with the law.[24] No Jordanian may be prevented from residing at any place in Jordan nor be compelled to reside in a certain place, except in circumstances prescribed by the law. No Jordanian may be deported from the Kingdom. [25] Dwelling houses are inviolable and can only be entered as prescribed by law.[26] No property may be expropriated except for public utility and with just compensation provided.[27] Compulsory labor is banned except during a state of necessity or as a result of conviction in a court of law.[28]

The free exercise of all forms of worship and religious rites are protected except if they are inconsistent with public order or morality.[29] The State also guarantees freedom of opinion and freedom of the press within the limits of the law. If martial law or a state of emergency is declared, limited censorship may be enforced on mass media in matters affecting public safety and national defense as imposed by law.[30]

Jordanians have the right to hold meetings and establish societies and political parties within the limits of the law. The objectives of the societies and political parties must be lawful, their methods must be peaceful, and their by-laws may not be contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.[31]

All postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications are treated as secret and can only be subject to censorship and suspension in circumstances prescribed by law.[32]

Elementary education is compulsory for all Jordanians and government schools must provide such education free of charge. Congregations may establish and maintain schools for their own members; however, these schools must comply with the general provisions of the law and be subject to government regulation regarding their curricula and orientation.[33]

Political refugees shall not be extradited on account of their political beliefs or for their defense of liberty. International agreements and laws regulate the extradition of criminals. [34]

Appointment to a government, municipal or government-attached establishment office will be made based on merit and qualifications. [35]

Employment provisions in the Constitution state that workers must receive wages commensurate to their work, there shall be a limit to weekly working hours, there must be weekly and annual days of paid rest, social compensation shall be given in circumstances,[36] special conditions shall be made for the employment of women and juveniles, factories and workshops are subject to health safeguards, and free trade unions may be formed within the limits of the law.[37]

5. Executive Branch

Jordan is ruled by a parliament and a hereditary monarchy. The King is the Chief of State. The throne is passed through agnatic succession to direct male descendants of the King, currently King Abdullah bin Al Hussein. The King must be a Muslim, mentally sound, and born to Muslim parents by a legitimate wife. Under a 1965 Amendment, the King may elect one of his brothers as heir apparent. A relative may be excluded from the line of succession by decree for unsoundness, but this exclusion does not extend to his descendants. The decree of exclusion must be signed by the Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Justice, and two other ministers. If the King dies with no sons, brothers, nephews or uncles available to inherit the throne, the National Assembly will select a King from the descendants of King Hussein ibn Ali, the founder of the Arab Revolt. If the King ascends before his eighteenth birthday, is unable to exercise his power due to illness or wishes to leave the country, a viceregent or council of viceregents will be appointed to exercise his powers. A viceregent must be at least thirty years of age; however, a male relative of the King may assume this position upon his eighteenth birthday. If a viceregent is unable to fulfill his duties due to illness or if he dies, the Council of Ministers will appoint a replacement.[38]

5.1. The King

The King ratifies and promulgates laws, directs the enactment of regulations, is the Supreme Commander of the Land, Naval and Air Forces, declares war, concludes peace, and ratifies treaties and agreements. However, treaties and agreements that involve financial commitments or that affect the public and private rights of Jordanians are not valid unless approved by the National Assembly.[39] The King convenes, inaugurates, adjourns and prorogues the National Assembly, may dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, may dissolve the Senate or relieve any Senator of their membership, appoints the Prime Minister and may dismiss the Prime Minister or accept their resignation. The King appoints, dismisses or accepts ministers’ resignations upon recommendation by the Prime Minister. The King appoints members of the Senate and their Speaker, and also accepts their resignations.[40] The King has the right to grant a special pardon or remit any sentence; however, any general pardon must be determined by special law.[41] In order to execute a death sentence, the Council of Ministers must present their recommendations and receive the King’s confirmation.[42] The King will also exercise the powers vested in him by a Royal Decree, which must be signed by the Prime Minister and the Minister or Ministers concerned.[43]

5.2. The Prime Minister and Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers is entrusted with administering all of the internal and external affairs of the State – their duties are defined by regulations made by the Council of Ministers and ratified by the King.[44] The Prime Minister leads the Council, and the number of ministers is determined by necessity.[45] Any minister may be entrusted with one or more ministries and is responsible for all matters that fall under the purview of that ministry.[46] No inister can purchase or lease Government property, cannot join the board of directors of any company, cannot take part in any commercial or financial transaction nor receive a salary from any company.[47]

Decisions taken by the Council of Ministers must be signed by the Prime Minister and each individual minister, as well as be ratified by the King. Orders by the King do not release the ministers from their responsibilities.[48] Each minister is entitled to speak in both Houses, but only to vote in the House they belong to.[49] If a Prime Minister resigns or is dismissed, all ministers are considered to have automatically resigned or been dismissed.[50]

The Prime Minister and Council of Ministers are collectively responsible to the Chamber of Deputies regarding public policy, and each minister is responsible to the Chamber regarding their own ministry. Motions of no confidence in the Council of Ministers of in any minister are raised in the Chamber and necessitate an absolute majority of votes in order to pass. If a no confidence vote passes, the relevant minister(s) must resign [51]

The Chamber of Deputies is also entitled to impeach ministers; however, an impeachment requires a two-thirds majority. Impeached ministers are then tried before a High Tribunal, which consists of the Speaker of the Senate and eight members – three selected by ballot from among the Senate and five consisting of the senior-most judges of the highest Civil Court. The Tribunal must apply the laws of the Penal Code and any special laws as may be applicable.[52]

A minister who is impeached is suspended from office until the determination of the High Tribunal. Resigning does not prevent the criminal proceedings to be brought against them.[53]

5.3. Jordanian Ministries[54]

6. Legislative Branch

The National Assembly is Jordan’s parliament. It is composed of two houses: the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.[55]

In order to serve as a Senator or Deputy one must be Jordanian, cannot claim foreign nationality or protection, cannot be bankrupt, cannot be interdicted, cannot have been sentenced to over a year of imprisonment for a non-political offense (unless pardoned), cannot have a material interest in any contract with any government department of (unless it is a contract regarding property or if the person is a shareholder in a company of more than ten members), cannot be mentally ill or mentally challenged, and cannot be related to the King within a degree of consanguinity prescribed by special law. No one may serve a House and a public office at the same time; equally, no person may serve both Houses at the same time.[56]

6.1. Senate

The Senate cannot consist of more than half the number of members of the Chamber of Deputies. Currently there are sixty Senate seats. A Senator must be at least forty years of age, and must be one of the following: present or former Prime Minister or Minister; former Ambassador, Minister Plenipotentiary, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, President or Judge of the Court of Cassation or of the Civil and Sharia Courts of Appeal; retired military officer of at least the rank of Lieutenant General; former Deputy who was elected at least twice in such a role; or other similar role that inspired the confidence of the people in view of their services to the country. Senators are appointed by the King for four-year terms and may be reappointed. The Speaker of the Senate serves a term of two years but may be reappointed. [57]

The Senate meets simultaneously with the Chamber of Deputies, and if the Chamber of Deputies is dissolved, the Senate sessions must be suspended. [58]

6.2. Chamber of Deputies

Members of the Chamber of Deputies are elected according to the provisions in the Law of Election to the House of Deputies (infra). The Chamber currently consists of 150 seats, 27 of which are reserved using a closed national list system to assure proportional representation. There are also fifteen seats reserved for women, nine seats reserved for Christians, nine seats for Bedouins, and three for Jordanians of Chechen or Circassian descent.[59]

A Deputy must be at least thirty years of age.[60] If ministers intend to nominate themselves for election, they must resign at least fifteen days before the nomination. [61] The chamber’s term of office consists of four years, beginning on the date when the general election results are announced in the Official Gazette. The King may prolong the term of the chamber for one to two years. If the election has not taken place by the end of the term of the chamber or if the election is delayed, the chamber will remain in office until a new chamber is elected. [62] The chamber elects its Speaker for a one-year term, though the Speaker may be reelected.[63]

The chamber has the right to determine the validity of the election of its members; however, no election can be considered invalid unless it has been declared so by two-thirds of the Deputies in the chamber.[64] Any Deputy can resign by notifying the Speaker in writing. The Speaker will then present the resignation before the chamber to determine whether it will be accepted or rejected.[65]

If the Chamber is dissolved, a general election will be held, and the new Chamber will convene in an extraordinary session within four months of the date of dissolution. If no elections have taken place by the end of the four-month period, the dissolved Chamber will reconvene and assume its full Constitutional powers as if the dissolution had never taken place. However, the King can postpone the general elections if a force majeure occurs that the Council of Ministers considers makes holding elections impossible. If the force majeure persists, the King may reinstate the dissolved Chamber. If the Council of Ministers finds that general elections are feasible in at least half of the constituencies, the King may order holding elections in those constituencies. The winners will then elect, by a two-thirds majority, not more than half the members for the other constituencies where elections were impossible. [66]

If a Chamber of Deputies is dissolved for any reason, the subsequent Chamber cannot be dissolved for the same reason.[67]

6.3. National Assembly

The National Assembly must convene once a year. The King will summon the National Assembly on the first business day of October each year. An ordinary session must last four months, unless the King dissolves the Chamber of Deputies. The King may prolong an ordinary session for up to three months. The King inaugurates the annual ordinary session of the National Assembly through a speech from the throne.[68]

Based on necessity, the King may summon extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly through a Royal Decree for an unspecified period of time in order to solve the issues outlined in the decree. The King may also summon an extraordinary session based on the request of an absolute majority of Deputies.[69]

The Prime Minister may also request a joint meeting of both houses.[70] In joint meetings, the Speaker of the Senate will preside over the session. Joint meetings require the presence of an absolute majority of members of each house in order to be duly constituted. Resolutions at these meetings are passed by an absolute majority of Senators and Deputies present. The Speaker may only vote as a tiebreaker.[71]

In order to duly constitute a meeting of either House, it must be attended by at least two-thirds of the respective House’s members. The meeting will continue to be valid so long as an absolute majority of the members remain present.[72] Resolutions by each of the houses are taken by a majority of the votes of members present, excluding the Speaker, who may only vote in the event of a tie. If the vote concerns a Constitutional matter or a vote of no confidence, the votes are taken by calling the names of each individual member.[73]

Laws must pass both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate and be ratified by the King. It comes into force thirty days after it is ratified and published in the Official Gazette. If the King does not ratify a law, he may refer it back to the House within six months accompanied by a statement explaining his objections. If a draft law is not ratified and is passed for a second time by two-thirds of both Houses, it will be promulgated. If the draft fails to garner the required two-thirds passage, it cannot be reconsidered again during the same session of parliament.[74]

Any ten or more Senators or Deputies may propose a law. Their proposal must be submitted to the concerned committee in the House. If the committee accepts the proposal, it will refer it to the Government to turn into a draft law and submit it to the House either during the current or next ordinary session.[75]

The Prime Minister must submit draft laws to the Chamber of Deputies. The Chamber will then accept, amend or reject the draft law, but must refer its draft to the Senate in any case. If one of the Houses rejects a draft twice, while the other House accepts it, the Houses must hold a joint meeting to discuss the issues under dispute. The law passes if it is accepted by a two-thirds majority of the members present during the joint meeting. However, if it is rejected, it cannot be revived again during that session.[76]

If the National Assembly is not sitting or is dissolved, the Council of Ministers, with the approval of the King, has the power to issue provisional laws covering urgent matters that cannot be delayed. These measures have the force of law provided that they’re placed before the National Assembly as a draft law at their next ordinary session. If the National Assembly rejects it, the Council of Ministers with the King’s approval will declare the provisional laws null.[77]

The Senate and Chamber of Deputies make their own internal regulations governing their proceedings, which must be ratified by the King.[78] Both Houses’ meetings are public; however, secret meetings may be convened at the request of the Government or of five Senators or Deputies.[79]

No Senator or Deputy can be detained or tried during sessions of the National Assembly unless the House they belong to decides by an absolute majority that there is a sufficient reason for detention or trial, or if the member was arrested in the act. If a member is arrested in such a manner, their House must be informed immediately. If a member is arrested while the National Assembly is not sitting, the Prime Minister will inform their House when it reconvenes.[80] Senators and Deputies have freedom of speech within the limits of the Internal Regulations of their House, and are not answerable for any vote cast, opinion expressed, or speech made during meetings of their House.[81]

If a seat becomes vacant, it will be filled by the King’s appointment in case of Senators or through a by-election in case of a Deputy within two months of the vacancy. The new member will fulfill their predecessor’s term. If a force majeure prevents a by-election, the Chamber of Deputies will choose a replacement by absolute majority of votes. [82]

7. Judicial Branch

An independent judicial branch is guaranteed by Jordan’s constitution.[83] The Jordanian constitution creates three categories of courts: civil, religious, and special courts.[84] These special courts include a military or state security court, police courts, land settlement courts, an income tax court, and customs courts.[85] The state previously endorsed tribal courts, but abolished that law officially in 1976. While many areas still use informal tribal courts or tribunals, tribal matters are officially under regular court jurisdiction.[86] Judges in the Jordanian legal system are officially appointed by the king; however, the appointment process is overseen and functionally managed by the High Judicial Council, a part of the legislature.[87]

8. Sources of Law

The sources of law and legal structure in Jordan vary depending on the court category. Civil courts, which deal with all civil and criminal matters that do not fall into a religious or special court jurisdiction, inherit their structure from the 19th century Ottoman and Egyptian legal systems, which both used the court structure outlined in the French Napoleonic Code. These were supplemented by British laws during the mandate period. Islamic law has also been influential, modifying in many ways the European models.[88]

Religious courts have jurisdiction only over issues of personal law, such as marriage, divorce, or inheritance. They draw their structure and jurisprudence from their respective religious tradition. Islamic religious courts are based on Islamic jurisprudence and legal tradition, whereas Christian religious courts and tribunals apply their own religious laws and systems.[89]

9. Courts

9.1. Civil Courts

The Jordanian civil court system hears all civil and criminal matters that do not fall under one of the special courts. In ascending order of authority, the civil court system is comprised of magistrate courts, first instance courts, courts of appeal, high administrative courts, and the Court of Cassation.[90]

The magistrate courts (محاكم الصلح) have jurisdiction over minor criminal matters, such as misdemeanors or crimes where the sentence cannot exceed two years, and civil matters where the amount does not exceed 750 Jordanian Dinars (about $1,000 US Dollars).[91]

The Courts of First Instance (محاكم البدائية) have jurisdiction over more serious civil and criminal matters. They will hear civil cases where damages exceed 750 Jordanian Dinars and criminal cases where the punishment may exceed two years of imprisonment. These courts also play a limited appeals function from minor criminal cases in the magistrate courts. In the courts of first instance, criminal matters are heard by a two-judge panel and civil matters are heard by one judge.[92]

Within the first instance courts is a Major Felonies Court. Its jurisdiction is limited to a specific set of serious crimes, all with potential sentences of more than three years. Cases in this court are heard by a three-judge panel, and appeals go directly to the Court of Cassation.[93]

The appeals courts (محاكم الاستئنافية) hear all appeals from the Courts of First Instance and the magistrate courts. Unlike American appellate courts, these courts apply a de novo review: a three-judge panel may review issues of fact and of law in each appealed case.[94]

The Court of Cassation (محكمة تمييز) is the final appellate court. It hears appeals on felony criminal matters and on civil judgments exceeding 500 JD (about $700 USD). The court may hear other cases at its optional discretion. It also decides on jurisdictional disputes between the lower courts.[95] Cases are heard by at least 5 judges.[96]

9.2. Religious Courts

The religious courts in Jordan have jurisdiction solely over personal matters. These include areas of family law such as marriage or divorce, child custody, adoption, and inheritance matters. Each major religious group administers its own religious laws (e.g. the Shari’a court system is used for Muslim citizens, while Christian sects have religious councils that fulfill a similar purpose). One exception is inheritance laws, which, though administered through the religious courts of the family’s religion, are still governed by Shari’aprinciples.[97]

9.3. Special Courts

The other courts in Jordan are limited to specialized or specific jurisdictions. A military court deals with offenses involving military personnel and with national security crimes (smuggling, bribery of public officials, etc.). Land settlement courts administer claims of ownership over unregistered land. An income tax court deals with valuation disputes. There is a primary and appellate court for customs disputes as well.[98]

10. Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty

King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Washington Declaration on July 25, 1994, formally ending the 46-year state of war between Jordan and Israel. The declaration also consolidated Islamic control over the Muslim Holy sites in Jerusalem, and stipulated steps to establish two new border crossings, and cooperation in energy, telecommunications and policing.

The Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty was signed on October 26, 1994. In addition to establishing peace between the two states, it defined Jordan’s western border, restoring 380 kilometers of occupied Jordanian land; established an equitable distribution of the water from the Yarmouk and Jordan rivers; and established a framework for cooperation in various fields from trade to the environment.[99]

11. Law of Election to the House of Deputies

The Law of Election to the House of Deputies was enacted in 1986 and regulates the proportional allotment of parliamentary representatives, the requirements for candidacy, and the operational procedures for parliamentary elections. It served to exclude the West Bank from Jordan’s electoral map after Jordan decided to withdraw administratively and legally from the West Bank.[100] This law was amended in August 1993 to enact the “one person, one vote” system. Jordanians must be 18 years of age to vote. However, persons who have been sentenced to over one year of prison time, who have been declared bankrupt and have not been rehabilitated, or who have been interdicted are excluded from voting.[101] Persons in the Jordanian Armed Forces, Public Security and Civil Defense cannot vote during the period of active service.[102]

In order to be eligible for candidacy in the Jordanian parliamentary elections, a person must be a Jordanian national for at least ten years; cannot have claim to a foreign nationality; must be at least thirty years old; cannot have been sentenced to prison for a term exceeding one year; cannot belong to an unlawful organization, such as a party or organization whose principles, aims or goals contravene the Constitution; cannot have material interest in the Government, such as current employees or persons holding a contract with a Government department, except for shareholders in a company owned by more than ten people; and cannot be a relative of the King.[103]

Election publicity is allowed up until 24 hours before the polls open. However, electoral meetings and speeches are prohibited in places of worship, institutions of learning and buildings occupied by governmental or public institutions.[104] Candidates may publish advertisements and publications but are prohibited from using the government emblem in their election publicity. Additionally, slander against another candidate – insinuated or direct – and agitation of sectarian, tribal or regional biases is prohibited.[105]

The Law of Election also includes punishment for election crimes. Violations such as impersonating another person to vote, voting more than once, and tampering or intimidating during the election may be punished by a prison term between one and three years or by a hefty fine.[106] Seizing or attempting to seize a ballot box, however, results in a punishment of hard labor between five and ten years, and a penalty of one thousand to five thousand Jordanian Dinars.[107]

The candidate with the largest number of votes is deemed the winner. If there is a tie between two or more candidates, the Minister of the Interior will hold a run-off within a week of the election.[108]

The Political Parties Law details the requirements and guidelines for establishing a political party – Sept. 1, 1992 – No. 3851 --- law number 32 for the year 1992.

12. Jordanian National Charter – December 1990[109]

The Jordanian National Charter was drafted as a set of guiding principles for the Jordanian government and people. It defines Jordan as an Arab state with a parliamentary, monarchic and hereditary government. Islam is defined as both the state religion and principle source of legislation. The Charter defines unity and tolerance as attributes of national commitment. It proclaims Jordanian men and women equal under the law regardless of race, language or religion. Social justice, respect for human rights and strengthening of democratic practices are all cited as goals.[110] In particular, it states the government’s commitment to securing the rights and basic freedoms recognized in Islam, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and all other international covenants and treaties promulgated by the United Nations with regard to human rights.[111]

Concerning national security, the Jordanian Armed Forces are defined as responsible for liberation, and the defense of Arab integrity, and the society as a whole is called on to support them.[112]

The Charter also frames goals for the development of the Jordanian economy including respect for private property and private enterprise, the establishment of trade unions in all economic sectors, and the view towards self-reliance.[113] The Charter outlines principles and goals for culture, education, science, and technology. With respect to education, in addition to creating innovative, productive future citizens, education is to be founded on faith in God and the authentic character of the Arab nation.[114]

Chapter Seven of the Charter outlines the Jordanian-Palestinian relationship, stressing the unity of Jordanians and Palestinians, the rejection of the claim that Jordan should be made into an alternative Palestinian homeland, and the recognition of the Palestinian state. Given the signing of the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty four years after the drafting of this Charter, it is unclear if the other portions of this chapter are still part of the Government’s guiding principles.[115]

Chapter Eight stresses the causes and national priorities of Jordan, particularly as an Arab state. Jordan defines its formulation of international relations as based on respect for freedom, the right of peoples to self-determination, justice, equality, respect for human rights and a rejection of discrimination and international hegemony. The liberation of Palestine is defined as the top of the agenda, including in Jordan’s international relations.[116]

13. Links to Legislation[117]

All laws enacted in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan must be published in the Official Gazette (Al-Jarida Al-Rasmiya) in order to come into effect.

Regulations for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Law:

14. Major International Treaties and Date of Ratification/Accession


Date of Ratification/Accession

Geneva Conventions I – IV

29 May 1951

Additional Protocol I Geneva Conventions

1 May 1979

Additional Protocol II Geneva Conventions

1 May 1979

Hague Convention of 1954[118]

2 Oct. 1957

Hague Protocol I of 1954[119]

2 Oct. 1957

Hague Protocol II of 1999[120]

5 May 2009


30 May 1974


28 May 1975


28 May 1975


1 Jul. 1992


13 Nov. 1991


24 May 1991

CRC Optional Protocol I[125]

23 May 2007

CRC Optional Protocol II[126]

4 Dec. 2006

Disability Rights Convention

31 May 2008

Geneva Gas Protocol[127]

20 Jan. 1977

Biological Weapons Convention

27 Jun. 1975

Chemical Weapons Convention

29 Oct. 1997

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

19 Oct. 1995

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Protocol I

19 Oct. 1995

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Protocol II (amended)

6 Sept. 2000

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Protocol III

19 Oct. 1995

Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention[128]

13 Nov. 1998

Slavery Convention

27 Sept. 1957

Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery

27 Sept. 1957

Abolition of Forced Labor Convention

31Mar. 1958

Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor

6 Jun. 1966

Equal Remuneration Convention

22 Sept. 1966

Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention

4 Jul. 1963

Employment Policy Convention

10 Mar. 1966

Genocide Convention

3 Apr. 1950

ICC Rome Statute[129]

11 Apr. 2002

Convention Against the Taking of Hostages[130]

19 Feb. 1986

Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 1999[131]

28 Aug. 2003

United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

26 Nov. 2002

International Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft

18 Nov. 1971

International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against International Protected Persons

18 Dec. 1984

Convention on the Political Rights of Women

1 Jul. 1992

Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations

3 Jan. 1958

Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid

31 Jul. 1992

United Nations Charter

14 Dec. 1955

Alexandria Protocol[132]

7 Oct. 1944

Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency

27 Oct. 1982

Constitution of the International Labor Organization

26 Jan. 1956

Convention of the International Maritime Organization

9 Nov. 1973

Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund

29 Aug. 1952

Constitution of the International Organization for Migration


Kyoto Protocol

16 Feb. 2005

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

27 Nov. 1995

TRIPS Agreement

11 Apr. 2000

Constitution of UNESCO

5 May 1975

Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

7 Mar. 1973

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

29 Jul. 1971

WIPO Convention

12 Jul. 1972

WIPO Copyright Treaty

27 Apr. 2004

Constitution of the World Health Organization

7 Apr. 1947

Marrakech Agreement (World Trade Organization)

11 Apr. 2000

Jordan is not party to the 1959 Refugee Convention or to the 1967 Protocol of the Refugee Convention.

[1] Library of Congress – Country Profile: Jordan

[2] BTI 2018 Jordan Country Report

[3] One such program is the Jordan Economic Growth Plan (JEGP) which focuses on developing a number of Jordan’s economic sectors including information and communications technology, tourism, agriculture, domestic manufacturing, and energy. JEGP emphasizes developing strong public-private partnerships to help reduce the country’s historically inflated public sector.

[4] UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UNESCO Legal System of Jordan.

[5] Mohamed Olwan, The Three Most Important Features of Jordan’s Legal System, in IALS Conference Learning From Each Other: Enriching the Law School Curriculum in an Interrelated World, Oct. 2007.

[6] Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Jordan, Oct. 22, 2013.

[7] Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan [Jordan], 1 Jan. 1952, art. 28.

[8] Law No. 6 of 1954 on Nationality (last amended 1987), 1 Jan. 1954, art. 9.

[9] Id.

[10] Id. at art. 2 (for purposes of this law, “Arab” is defined as any person whose father was of Arab origin and who is a national of a State Member of the League of Arab States).

[11] Id. at art. 4.

[12] Id. at art. 5.

[13] Id. at art. 8(1).

[14] Id. at art. 8(2).

[15] Id. at art. 11.

[16] Id. at art. 12.

[17] Id. at art. 14.

[18] Id. at art. 16.

[19] Id. at art. 15.

[20] Id. at art. 17.

[21] Id. at art. 18.

[22] Id. at art. 19.

[23] Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan [Jordan], 1 Jan. 1952, art. 6.

[24] Id. at art. 8.

[25] Id. at art. 9.

[26] Id. at art. 10.

[27] Id. at art. 11.

[28] Id. at art. 12.

[29] Id. at art. 14 (Neither defined with clarity.)

[30] Id. at arts. 15.

[31] Id. at art. 16.

[32] Id. at art. 18.

[33] Id. at arts. 19 & 20.

[34] Id. at art. 21.

[35] Id. at art. 22.

[36] In the case of workers supporting a family who are on dismissal, illness, old age and due to emergencies that arise from the nature of the work performed.

[37] Id. at art. 23(ii)(a)-(f).

[38] Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan [Jordan], 1 Jan. 1952, art. 28.

[39] Id. at arts. 31, 32, 33.

[40] Id. at arts. 34-36.

[41] Id. at art. 38.

[42] Id. at art. 39.

[43] Id. at art. 40.

[44] Id. at art. 45.

[45] Id. at art. 41.

[46] Id. at art. 46 & 51.

[47] Id. at art. 44.

[48] Id. at art. 48.

[49] Id. at art. 52.

[50] Id. at art. 50.

[51] Id. at arts. 51 & 53.

[52] Id. at arts. 56-58.

[53] Id. at art. 61.

[54] The Official Site of the Jordanian e-Government, Jordanian Ministries.

[55] Central Intelligence Agency, supra note 4.

[56] Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at arts. 75 &76.

[57] Id. at arts. 63-65.

[58] Id. at art. 66.

[59] Central Intelligence Agency, supra note 4.

[60] Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at art. 70.

[61] Id. at art. 74.

[62] Id. at art. 68.

[63] Id. at art. 69.

[64] Id. at art. 71.

[65] Id. at art. 72.

[66] Id. at art. 73.

[67] Id. at art. 74.

[68] Id. at arts. 78 & 79.

[69] Id. at art. 82.

[70] Id. at art. 89.

[71] Id. at art. 89.

[72] Id. at art. 84(i).

[73] Id. at art. 84.

[74] Id. at art. 93.

[75] Id. at art. 95.

[76] Id. at arts. 91 & 92.

[77] Id. at art. 94.

[78] Id. at art. 83.

[79] Id. at art. 85.

[80] Id. at art. 86.

[81] Id. at art. 87.

[82] Id. at art. 88.

[83] Office of King Hussein I, The Judicial Branch.

[84] Id.

[85] Embassy of the United States in Jordan, Jordan Fact Sheet: Jordanian Legal System.

[86] United States Library of Congress, Jordan – The Judiciary, Sept. 2006.

[87] Office of King Hussein I, supra note 32.

[88] Cindy Moors, Jordan: A Modern Criminal Justice System Amidst Turmoil, 15 Crime and Justice International 27, Apr. 1999.

[89] Office of King Hussein I, supra note 32.

[90] Id.

[91] Embassy of the United States, supra note 34.

[92] Id.

[93] Id.

[94] Id.

[95] Id.

[96] Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty, Oct. 26, 1994.

[97] Embassy of the United States, supra note 34.

[98] Id.

[99] Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty, Oct. 26, 1994.

[100] Law of Election to the House of Deputies, Law No. 22 for the Year 1986, May 17, 1986, introduction [hereinafter Law of Election].

[101] Id. at art. 3.

[102] Id. at art. 5.

[103] Id. at arts. 18 & 20.

[104] Id. at art. 60.

[105] Id. at arts. 61 & 63.

[106] Id. at art. 66.

[107] Id. at art. 67.

[108] Id. at art. 57.

[109] Jordanian National Charter [Jordan], 1 Jun. 1991.

[110] Id. at ch. 1.

[111] Id. at ch. 2.

[112] Id. at chs. 1 & 3.

[113] Id. at ch. 4.

[114] Id. at ch. 6.

[115] Id. at ch. 7.

[116] Id. at ch. 8.

[117] Lexadin, Legislation Jordan – Provides a lengthy list of hyperlinks to translated Jordanian laws and regulations. However, all laws may be found in the Official Gazette and online in the Jordanian Legislation Database, supra.

[118] Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

[119] Protocol for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

[120] Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

[121] International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

[122] Declaration made upon signature and ratification. Jordan does not consider itself bound by art. 9(2); art. 16(1)(c), 16(1)(d), 16(1)(g).

[123] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

[124] Convention on the Rights of the Child. Reservations: Jordan does not consider itself bound by arts. 14, 20, 21 because they conflict with precepts of Shari’a Law.

[125] On Children Involved in Armed Conflict.

[126] On the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

[127] Reservation: Jordan only undertakes the commitments in the protocol to States who also respect the protocol’s obligations.

[128] Convention on the Prohibition of Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.

[129] Interpretive Declaration: Nothing under Jordan’s law, including the Constitution is inconsistent with the Rome Statute. National law gives full effect to the Statute.

[130] Declaration: Jordan’s accession cannot be construed as recognition of or entering into treaty negotiations with Israel.

[131] Declarations: 1- Jordan does not consider national armed struggle and fighting foreign occupation in the exercise of people’s right to self-determination as terrorist acts under art. 2(1)(b); 2- In the application of this treaty, Jordan is not bound to include the offenses within the scope and as defined in treaties it is not a party to.

[132] Foundational Document of the League of Arab States.