The Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) organized a seminar on ” Human Rights the United Arab Emirates: Achievements and Challenges” at the UN Human Rights Council Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The seminar detailed the efforts of the UAE with regards to the promotion and protection of human rights, within the framework of its national legislations, laws and international obligations, and its continuous and positive efforts to contribute and interact with best international practices in this regard.
At the beginning of event, Mr. Sarhan Al-Tahir Saadi, the General Coordinator of the Arab Federation for Human Rights, presented the Federation’s Report on the Human Rights Situation in the UAE. He pointed out that since the founding of the UAE in the early seventies, the UAE has pursued the principles of justice, equality and of human rights. He equally highlighted that the UAE has consistently established a tolerant and multicultural society in which people from all over the world live in harmony with each other, all equal before the law.
He said that the UAE’s efforts in the field of human rights were not confined to the inside, but extended its hands and offered to people everywhere. The world and international organizations have witnessed their efforts in this direction and have been placed at the forefront of the world’s donor countries. The UAE’s international human rights record of being elected to two consecutive sessions as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council is a good indication of it promotion of human rights.
Mr. Sarhan stated that the AFHR’s report monitored the significant achievements and transformations in the field of human rights in the UAE in various sectors. In the framework of its keenness to protect the rights of expatriate workers, the UAE has developed a strategy and action plan aimed at providing and guaranteeing the rights of expatriate workers in the UAE and improving their working conditions, provided legislative protection through legal texts, regulations and ministerial decisions, adopted a new policy to attract foreign workers aimed at achieving transparency of the contract, developed legal tools that determine a number of legal controls that establish the principle of protection of the rights of workers. They also contributed positively to the promotion of cooperation with the labor sending countries. The UAE has equally developed legislative and institutional mechanisms to provide more protection for the assistive labor groups to strengthen their access to effective equity mechanisms.
The UAE has continued to strengthen its efforts to empower women and achieve gender equality and has continued its efforts to protect the rights of the child. The most prominent of these efforts is the launching of the National Strategy for the Empowerment and Entrepreneurship of Women in the UAE 2015 to 2021 and the mandatory representation of women on the boards of all government bodies, institutions and companies as well as the adoption of the National Strategy for Motherhood and Childhood in March 2017 and the Strategic Plan for the Promotion of the Rights of Children with Disabilities 2017 to 2021.
Mr. Sarhan further pointed out that there are a number of mechanisms guaranteeing the protection and promotion of human rights are available in the UAE, notably the Emirates Council for Gender Balance, the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking and the National Committee for International Humanitarian Law.
In 2005, the UAE launched the Political Empowerment Program, which aims to empower UAE nationals in various workplaces to contribute to the development process. The development of political participation comes through the elections of the Federal National Council (FNC) and the definition of its role, one of the most important areas that resulted in the Political Empowerment program. The third trial of the FNC elections, held in 2015, was one of the most important stages of the political empowerment program.
He stressed that despite its positive record in the field of human rights, the UAE recognizes that there are real challenges that remain, and that the work is not yet over. Thus, it has adopted a continues advanced approach of tolerance and acceptance of the other. The UAE is working to strengthen its capacity to respond to any concerns about human rights standards and to use all available tools to further develop the human rights framework, in accordance with international standards and in response to the needs of a rapidly growing new state while maintaining respect for traditions and cultural specificity.
Ms. Fatimata Ndwi, head of the Institute of Studies at Sinjisia, a consultant to the Development Strategy and a former employee of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, spoke about the UAE woman’s actions. She praised the giant steps taken by the UAE in this field and gave vivid examples of women’s participation in the economic and political development. Human rights are a universal principle, but each country’s specificities must be taken into account.
John Cullan, Counselor for Defense and Security, spoke of the UAE’s crucial role in stabilizing the region, especially with its intention to adopt the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), its impact on the human rights issue and the promotion of the concept of human security which is Iran’s attempt to destabilize the region and the vagueness of its nuclear file, but this has not prevented the UAE from meeting its humanitarian obligations.
At the end of the seminar, the Arab Federation for Human Rights presented its recommendations to improve the overall human rights environment in the UAE and to move forward with the legislative reforms that keep abreast of the latest developments. The Federation also encouraged the UAE to comply with the national legislations, laws and its international human rights obligations, including the promulgation of the Federal Law on Combating Domestic Violence as well as with the various organs, mechanisms and committees of the United Nations in the field of human rights.
Arab Federation for Human Rights
Geneva, January 22th,2018