Qatar taking UAE to ICJ with accusations of racial discrimination

With a year-long blockade still in place, Qatar fights back at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).


After over a year of blockades, the Gulf state of Qatar has filed an ‘Application Instituting Proceedings’ against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Qatar accuses the UAE of discriminating against Qataris in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).


Among the accusations made by Qatar is the accusation that the UAE, among other things, prohibits by law any speech deemed to be in 'support' of Qatar or opposed to the actions taken against Qatar, closing UAE airspace and seaports to Qatar and Qataris and prohibiting 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. Furthermore, it accuses the UAE of expelling all Qataris within its borders, without exception, giving them just two weeks to leave. Qatar is calling 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.

ICJ timetable

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced on it will hold public hearings from June 27 to 29 following Qatar's move. A statement in Doha explained, ‘As set forth in detail in Qatar’s application to the International Court, the UAE led these actions, which have had a devastating effect on the human rights of Qataris and residents of Qatar.’ Qatar's lawyers will lay out their arguments on June 27 and June 29, and Abu Dhabi will also be given the chance to respond on June 28 and June 29. On June 5th, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt imposed a blockade on Qatar, closing their land, air and sea borders with it, accusing it of funding terrorism and fomenting regional instability. The Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini governments told their citizens to return from Qatar. They also asked Qatari citizens who were visiting, studying or living in their respective countries, to leave for Qatar within 14 days. The diplomatic spat has left Qatar partially isolated in the region. The ICJ filing can be read here.

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