ICJ finds UAE violated racial discrimination convention

Actions taken by UAE against Qatar in 2017 were discriminatory, according to the ICJ which ordered it to comply with CERD convention.


Qatar has successfully brought the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before International Court of Justice over racial discrimination, filing an Application Instituting Proceedings against the UAE in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing the UAE of discriminating against Qataris in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).


According to the claims by Qatar,  the UAE, among other things, did ‘prohibit by law any speech deemed to be in ‘support’ of Qatar or opposed to the actions taken against Qatar, and 'close UAE airspace and seaports to Qatar and Qataris and prohibit all inter-state transport, which together with coordinated measures enacted simultaneously by other nearby states, rendered Qatar inaccessible by air, by land, and by sea,’ and ‘expel all Qataris within its borders, without exception, giving them just two weeks to leave.’ Qatar called on the court to order the UAE to cease and revoke discriminatory measures, condemn and criminalise inciting discrimination, restore rights to Qataris, and make reparations for the harms that were caused by the UAE’s actions. The UAE, along with Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia had imposed the actions against Qatar after accusing it of condoning and funding terrorism.


Reminding the UAE of its duty to comply with its obligations under CERD, the ICJ found, by a vote of eight judges to seven, that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) acted against CERD when it ordered all Qatari citizens to leave the country within fourteen days in June of 2017. In Qatar v. United Arab Emirates, the court ordered the UAE to reunite families who were separated by the UAE’s actions and to allow Qatari students to continue their studies within the UAE. The UAE was found to be in contravention of Article 5 of CERD after the court ruled that the de facto expulsion of Qatari citizens without regard to individual circumstances violated the rights of Qataris to marriage, education, freedom of movement, and access to justice, even though the UAE contended that no orders were given to expel Qataris. The UAE must ensure that families that include a Qatari, separated by the measures adopted by the UAE on 5 June 2017, are reunited; Qatari students are given the opportunity to complete their education in the UAE or to obtain their educational records if they wish to continue their studies elsewhere; and Qataris are allowed access to tribunals and other judicial organs of the UAE.

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