Senator Mustafa Hamarneh speaks with JMI students about State of the Country report

18 Nov 2020


Jordan Media Institute – Amman


The honorable Dr. Mustafa Hamarneh met online with students at the Jordan Media Institute (JMI) to survey the origin of "State of the Country,” the well-known report that is published annually by the Economic and Social Council, and that addresses the most important economic, social, political, and security indicators currently prevailing in Jordan.


Dr. Hamarneh, who previously served as Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan and President of the Economic and Social Council, said that the idea of producing a report on the state of the country originated with the aim of monitoring deficiencies and weak spots in state institutions working to confront a variety of risks and challenges; and thereby enable decision-makers to improve the performance of state agencies in grappling with such imminent dangers.


Dr. Hamarneh noted that, in the face of varied deficiencies in the operation of many state institutions and agencies, there had been a pressing need for a national scientific research effort free from any individual and ideological leanings. This effort would serve multiple purposes in monitoring shortcomings and defects in the work of state institutions, so as to allow them to detect and subsequently address such problems.


Dr. Hamarneh explained that a strong state is impossible without the presence of durable institutions and the rule of law that these institutions undergird. He also noted that there was little interest in the Council’s “State of the Country” report when it was first published: its critical nature was met with uneasiness at times, and was rejected outright by some.


In response to a JMI student who suggested that the problems plaguing Jordanian state institutions are the same as those confronting Jordanian society—and hence that the state is ultimately a reflection of society—Dr. Hamarneh agreed. He also argued, however, that the state could be an effective tool for modernization and not simply negatively reflect social conditions. Dr. Hamarneh recalled the example of Israel, in which state institutions—specifically schools—were able to fuse together myriad linguistic, ethnic, and cultural groups and thereby create a prosperous, strong economy.


Dr. Hamarneh also recalled several historical examples of institutionalization within the Jordanian state. He pointed to the role of the Jordanian Armed Forces in changing attitudes as well as many societal and even personal behavioral patterns, with the military a pioneer in the work of national institutions.


In the face of state institutional deficiencies that have helped exacerbate various economic, political, and moral crises, Dr. Hamarneh suggested promoting and reinforcing the work of the Institute of Public Administration. This institute is, in his view, a tool that Jordanian decision-makers can utilize to modernize state institutions and strengthen the rule of law, stressing that the crisis of the state in Jordan is a crisis of administration rather than one of the scarce economic resources.


Remarking on the media landscape in Jordan, Dr. Hamarneh pointed to some of the shortcomings and weak spots in the media sector, including the crisis in ethical and professional values it is currently undergoing. Indeed, it was this crisis that animated the thinking around the creation of JMI as a means of elevating the professional and ethical standards that shape the Jordanian media scene.


Addressing JMI students, Dr. Hamarneh said that "amid chaotic circumstances and conditions that have absolutely nothing to do with the media or media ethics, you are this country’s safety valve. I will not speak to you about your patriotism—although it is important—but rather your professionalism. In this chaotic media landscape, media professionalism has become imperative."


Participating in the dialogue were JMI Acting Dean Professor Abdul Hakim Al-Husbani as well as JMI students.