The sublime address of H.H the Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
The sublime address of H.H the Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, at the audience, rendered to the head and members of the Supreme National Committee assigned to draft the national charter, who submitted to H.H, the draft of the national action charter of the state of Bahrain, at Riffa, on Saturday, 7th Ramadan 1421 h, 23rd December 2000
Dear brothers and sisters,
May peace and God's blessings be upon you.
Today is the dearest day in the history of Bahrain and a glorious moment in our dignified and honoured path. We confidently can say that your accomplishing of the national charter draft, represents an advanced step in the course of the modernizing the political structure of the state including the systems and institutions, in such a way that meet the aspiration of the progressing of the people of Bahrain towards further civilized progress and rising.
It is our pride to achieve this national unanimity in the form of the charter draft after several gatherings of useful dialogue with various sectors of our civilized community and its representatives. Accordingly you had gathered within the context of this national committee and from various positions, thus enriching the common visions with constructive views and free exchange of opinion in free Bahrain, to strengthen the principles of human coexistence and civilized dialogue which embodied, and over ages, the democratic feature and practices that are formulated today by the charter. You have in fact demonstrated your ability to process this pioneering mission in the history of the nation and proved your competence to shoulder the task for the interest of all citizens.
These are only the first step that precedes a number of dialogue and forums within our national course, fortunately coinciding with last ten days of Ramadan, a document which shall be remembered by next generations as Ramadan document.
Our brothers and sisters, With every confidence and pride we receive from you the draft of the charter, the allegiance document, as you wished, and it will be the subject of our recognition and consideration and a responsibility that we care for as we, pledged since the beginning and in light of our great confidence in the awareness of this dear citizens.
This will be submitted to a general public referendum according to the procedures in this regard, in order receive the opinions and views of the people. Once we are satisfied that there is general consensus about this draft, we shall endorse it as a basis for our national path, upon which we shall be guided in processing the national action and complement the modernizing of the state institutions and its constitutional power, while implement in each stage those parts deemed to be in line with the aspirations of the citizens,
Dear brothers and sisters, We shall remain hand in hand and united over the course of this process and I hereby stretch my hand to every single Bahraini, men and women, as it showed the pledge of
Allegiance and it will show a new formula of allegiance. The new formula and the national modernization shall be the features of our best days to come.
May peace and God's blessings be upon you.
Bahrain's History: Civilization and Contemporary Awakening
Since the dawn of history, Bahrain has had its name carved in bold letters in the annals of civilizations. Geographically, the name " Bahrain" might have sometimes broader, sometimes narrower definition. In any case, however, it has always been here, at this archipelago, the heart of the Gulf region, where all civilizations conjured. Dilmun was the meeting place of the Old World that extended from Somer in Mesopotamia, to Majan in Oman on to the Sind civilization. It established a name for Bahrain as a center of free trade and a vital port of call for the entire Old World for centuries, a fact that contributed to the prosperity of Bahrain over the ages. Even before Islam, Bahrain had been known as a land of diversity in terms of ideologies and beliefs, a rare case in those times by any measurement. In such a climate of spiritual and intellectual tolerance, culture flourished, religions coexisted and the poets of Bahrain contributed monumental works to Arabic poetry on human thought and being.
In fact, they heralded a new era in which Arabs would play a historic role. Bahrain was one of the lands that welcomed the call of Islam at an early date and willingly converted to Islam. Furthermore, Bahrain was an early, staunch supporter of Islam. It carried its banner across the Gulf down to India. Bahrain's resources substantially contributed to the " Beitulmal" (or Treasury) of Islam's realm. Its men of letters made early contributions to Islamic civilization through their jurisprudence and literary works particularly during the Caliphate period. Such contribution made all the more natural that Islamic value of tolerance, justice and piety have been deeply embedded into the very conscience of the Bahrain people. The physical geography of Bahrain offered a prolific environment for human activities covering agriculture, trade, and diving. With a very favorable geographic location and abundant resources, Bahrain was always a temptation for invaders as well as those who dreamt of fortune.
However, those invariably met with a Bahrain that was always on the alert to repel any transgressor. The latest great milestone in such a history of steadfastness was the successful struggle launched by Arab rank and file under the able command of Ahmed El Fateh late in 18th century comprising the Zubarah and Bahrain region under the Al Khalifa rule. Following came the call by the entire people of Bahrain to Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa to assume the rule of the country as the guarantee against foreign domination. This was the first manifestation of public will in contemporary Bahrain. It has gone into the annals of history as the first oath of allegiance to a young ruler who epitomized his people's dream of a national rule. For the next sixty-five years, this rule proved to be able to ensure the country's security, to maintain the cohesion of the people and their leadership and to maintain its political and economic stability that helped Bahrain successfully steer into modern times.
Despite foreign powers taking an adverse stand toward calls by the people of Bahrain for Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa to constitute a Shura or (consultative) Council, the positive response on his part came as a manifestation of a common perception, of both the people and the leadership, of the course national action should take. Shaikh Hamad bin Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, who succeeded his father as ruler enjoying an oath of allegiance by his people, had realistic perspective of international conflicts. With his forward-looking approach, he opened vistas the country to usher itself into modern times. He introduced a modern education system, an effective administration, modern municipal facilities, and an appropriate legal framework. Thus, the country was able to lay down an agenda for development and transformation following the establishment of oil industry in Bahrain. When Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa took over as ruler in 1942, Bahrain was doing its utmost to come to grips with ramifications of concurrent World War 2, operations in terms of economic difficulties and international and regional upheavals. Nevertheless, Bahrain managed to surmount such difficulties and to continue with its state building development, national unity, people-leadership, cohesion and participation agenda despite pressures by foreign powers.
The reign of Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa was one of rich growth and political achievements. It goes to his credit that he established the state of Bahrain. He proclaimed Bahrain as an independent state with modern institution thus, putting an end to foreign ambitions and claims. In a survey conducted by a United Nations fact-finding commission, the entire people of Bahrain expressed their unequivocal resolved to protect their fatherland as an Arab independent state and renewed their oath of allegiance to Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa. In response, Shaikh Isa promulgated the constitution of the state of Bahrain that reflected true constitutional and democratic principles. Under Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Bahrain gained its full independence as a state that upholds democracy, institutions and rule of law. Shaikh Isa will ever be remembered for his historic milestone decisions on launching real constitutionalism in Bahrain through free and direct elections to form a national council under the constitution. The unequivocal support expressed by the people of Bahrain to H.H the Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa upon his assumption to leadership, came as a manifestation of the fact that the entire Bahraini people have closed ranks behind his reign from the beginning.
Under H.H the Amir, Bahrain has witnessed a vigorous leap forward to further democracy in response to people's aspiration to a modem state that continues to enjoy security, stability and prosperity, a state where constitutional institutions capable of meeting the aspirations of both leaderships and the peoples and where justice and rule of law reign supreme, be completed. At this historic juncture, the people of Bahrain are resolved to have a shining morrow. They stand for freedom, equality, justice, democracy and participation in governance by all. The state of Bahrain that has gained political independence through a joint struggle by both a wise leadership and a faithful people, have preserved its unity and territorial integrity, including its land and territorial waters that are neither alienable nor a subject of compromise in any way and under any circumstances. This is expressly reflected by article 1 of the constitution of Bahrain.
The state of Bahrain has played an active role at political arenas within Arab, Islamic and international tiers. It has manifested its unwavering belief in its role as one of the constituents of the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as its resolve to closely work with other sisterly member states to further galvanize the GCC system to meet the aspirations of its peoples. Having established modern institutions based on democracy, constitutional institutions and the rule of law since its independence; having fully assumed its full role as a state both in terms of its inter- national relations as well as its sovereign institutions that are based on justice, equality and care for citizens rights since independence; in view of H.H the Amir's aspirations to further deepen democracy through a more balanced structure that maintains constitutional political participation of both government and people, checks and balances, strengthens the judiciary's mechanics and allows for the creation of a constitution court, an auditor general and an administrative supervisory authority; in view of the royal will to usher the country into the third millennium as a truly modern one that is empowered with a full-fledged political, constitutional frame work conducive to proper responses to local, regional and international developments; and in view of the need to cope with new political, economic and social developments as well as future challenges, building on Bahrain's experience in political and economic realm over the last three decades.
It is hereby resolved that national, political and constitutional constants, including the democratic, constitutional monarchy under which the king serves his people and symbolizes their independent identity and their aspirations to progress, shall be attached to it. It is further resolved that the constitution of the country shall be amended in such a way as to allow making use of other democracies' experiences in broader participation in government and administration, including their putting in place of a bicameral system where the legislature can have the double advantage of learned and experienced citizens in the Shura council on the one hand and the interaction with people's opinion from all schools of thought through a freely, directly elected chamber.
The final statement at the conclusion of the meetings of the Supreme National Committee, assigned to prepare the draft of the national action charter.
In line with the amiri orders number 36 and 43 for the year 2000 on establishing the supreme national Committee to draft the national charter, and in pursuance of the great responsibility felt by the members of the Committee, the Committee held several meetings at Riffa palace, in which deliberations and discussions including positive ideas and suggestions were discussed. And, with the help of God the almighty and the support of H.H the Amir, the Committee was able to achieve its task, and wishes that it would satisfy the will of H.H the Amir, and the aspirations of the people of Bahrain. In this regard, the Committee, affirms that the national action charter draft will achieve a considerable turning point in the process of the national action, the role of which will- constructively, contribute in affecting radical changes within the program of action and performance. And considering the response received from the members of the Committee to agree with the scope of the wide vision of H.H the Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa whose democratic style was clearly manifested in his dialogue, in his meetings with various national sectors and several national public gatherings, the Committee expresses its deep honour and pride over the close bond and cohesion between the leader and the people, which in fact form a solid foundation for the national action and a true pillar to preserve the cultural and civilized accomplishments in the country and also affirming the adherence to non-squandering of any inch of the soil of this cherished nation. And in implementation of the process of modernizing state's powers and institutions, in preparation for the electing of a freely elected representative council along with an appointed council comprising deep-visioned experts, eventually leading to a constitutional invigoration and institutional modernizing on a well-balanced formula that takes into consideration the lessons of the past and prepares for the future, the Committee reaffirms its absolute support that enables Bahrain to continue its aspired path for a better future.
The Committee also affirms that, despite the crisis and wars that the region had faced, the state of Bahrain has advanced in great strides toward comprehensive development and has, through determination and resolve, continued the path of process and growth, and accordingly the state of Bahrain occupies its position competently amongst the progressive constitutional monarchies. In affirmation of the harmony and integration between the far- sightedness of the Amir and the aspirations of the people of Bahrain, the Committee decided, at the end of its meeting, to sub- mit this national action charter draft, representing a renewed document of loyalty and allegiance to H.H the Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to take the necessary and appropriate measures that serve the interests of the country.