Jordan/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

The main institutions involved in international culture co-operation besides the Ministry of Culture, are the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry works through different directorates that include the Directorate of International Cooperation and the Directorate of Policies and Studies. The Ministry of Planning, through the Directorate of International Cooperation, supervises the completion of international cultural agreements. It also provides the funding for development projects, searches for funding opportunities and identifies the terms of benefiting from those opportunities; and coordinates the distribution of funding available to various development programs and projects, in cooperation with countries and donors.

The Directorate of Policies and Studies comprises the following departments: the Department of Aid Coordination, Department of Asian Relations, Department of Arab and Islamic Relations, Department of European Relations, Department of European Association, and the Department of scientific and cultural cooperation.

In this regard, we are concerned with the Directorate of International Cooperation. Its responsibilities include developing the mechanisms of aid coordination and funding management provided to various development programs and projects, and to follow up the commitment of the funding sources to aid programs agreed upon by protocol.

Although Jordan is a small and weak country in regard to cultural potential, it has frequently tried to play a role in the cultural scene of the Arab region and to be a link between this region and the world. However, these repeated attempts didn't last long for illogical reasons. This was largely due to the absence of strategic planning.

Bilateral cooperation agreements:
As for the advancement of Jordanian culture abroad, the Ministry of Culture signs dozens of agreements with other countries every year. At present, Jordan has signed agreements with 18 Arab countries, 5 Islamic, and 35 foreign, in addition to treaties and agreements concerning the protection of the diversity of different cultural forms, copyright protection, cultural property protection amid armed conflicts, protection of popular traditions, facilitation of the movement of Arab cultural production (for example, Jordan Cultural Week events are presented in these countries and Amman, in return, hosts the cultural weeks of those countries. But most of the time,  contemporary culture is absent in the activities of those weeks, therefore  programs like the Dabka show, exhibitions of traditional handcrafts, and exhibitions of Jordanian plastic art are the main programs in those weeks, while there are no theatrical performances or poetry programs, and intellectuals are absent either as  a lecturers or as speakers).

It should be noted that the European Union has initiated the adoption of the European Vicinity Policy after the expansion of EU membership. And since Jordan is one of the countries signed to be part of the European Association, Jordan was one of the first countries to be eligible to become part of the European Vicinity Policy. It aims to build on what is mutual between Europe and neighbouring countries by agreeing on common principles and visions, based on adopting the approach of political and economic reform; promoting moderation and the values of coexistence, peace and respect for one another; confronting extremism and a clash of ideologies; filling the gap between the viewpoints of European countries and those of neighbouring countries to confront the violence phenomenon which also creates a common threat and challenge that does not recognise boundaries or distinguish any cultural, religious or social system; as well as the fortification of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The commitment to these terms, which includes the action plans signed by the EU and the countries selected to benefit from the European Vicinity Policy, is essential to acquire free access to the European union in different fields, including educational programs (like, Tempos, Erasmus, and Cosmos), as well as to benefit from financial aid provided by the European Union to eligible countries in the vicinity to improve the speed of economic, legislative, social, and cultural reform.

Jordan signed the Jordanian European Partnership on 24 November, 1997. The agreement entered into force on 1 May, 2002, after the ratification process was completed by all European parliaments and the Jordanian Parliament.

The agreement includes two axes, one cultural and the other is social, including general principles and rules governing Jordanian-EU cooperation in the social and cultural fields. Through ongoing dialogue, the agreement seeks to improve the working conditions of Jordanians who are legally working in EU countries, to raise awareness of the civilizations and cultures of the two parties and to fight discrimination. The axes, through joint programs and projects, aim to dispose of migration factors, by creating job opportunities and providing training and rehabilitation in Mediterranean countries, to increase the role of woman in economic development, to improve the health system and social security system, and to exchange youth visits in order to raise awareness and understanding of different cultures. 

The royal perception of the cultural policy in Jordan can be extrapolated by reading the content of the throne speech of King Abdullah II at the opening of the first regular session of the 15th National Assembly. Although the cultural visions and policies were not found directly in the speech, it included the main themes of the cultural policies. This vision is based on working to deepen awareness of democratic culture, establishing the principles of justice, equality and equal opportunities, strengthening the principle of transparency and accountability (such as a Complaints Office) and the laws relating to human rights and the rights of women and children, and protecting young people and opening pathways for their potential and capabilities, and securing freedom of the press and media. The throne speech stated: "We noticed, in the past few years, that the government did not implement the demanded plans and projects, despite the funding provided for those projects. On the contrary, the Parliament hindered government performance due to the delay in completing the rules and legislations that are necessary to implement the demanded plans and projects."

Chapter published: 04-05-2016