Qatar takes UAE to UN International Court of Justice

The hague, Holland, Netherlands, United Nations, International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice in The Hague is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. © Public Domain

According to a report by Qatar’s state news agency (QNA), Qatar has dragged the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the United Nation’s highest judicial body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging human rights violations.

The move comes a year after Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism” which Doha promptly rejected as “baseless”.

“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,” said Qatar’s government in a statement.

In its complaint to the International Court of Justice, Qatar alleged that officials from the UAE also participated in a full-scale media campaign online against the citizens of Qatar as well as the state and directly incited hatred against the Gulf nation, said QNA.

“The unlawful measures imposed by UAE have torn apart families, with parents being separated from children and husbands from wives. The families deserve to be reunited,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s Foreign Minister in a statement.

In a December 2017 report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Qatar had also raised allegations on the UAE’s attacks on its fundamental freedoms as part of a “widespread defamation and hatred campaign against Qatar”

In its complaint to the International Court of Justice, Qatar mentioned the series of measures that the UAE had enacted against Qataris, including expelling them the UAE, ordering UAE nationals to leave Qatar, prohibiting Qataris from entering or passing through the UAE and closing UAE’s airspace and seaports to Qatar.

The government of Qatar believes, UAE’s actions were a contravention of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), including discrimination on the basis of nationality.

The UAE and Qatar are both signatories to CERD, as opposed to Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

In its request to the International Court of Justice, Qatar stated, it hopes the ICJ orders the UAE to adopt appropriate measures that are in line with its duties and obligations under CERD.

Qatar has also requested the ICJ that to order the UAE to provide reparations, including compensation to Qatar and Qataris; it however did not quantify the amount it was seeking.

According to Toby Cadman, an international humans rights lawyer, the steps taken by Qatar are the first of many and the process of getting a judgment from the International Court of Justice is likely to take months.

“The UN office of the high commissioner for human rights has acknowledged that a complain has been filed against the UAE so there will ordinarily a stage of initiating a period of mediation,”said Cadman. “But considering that all other forms of diplomacy have failed, it is unlikely tat the UAE or any of the other states concerned would engage in that process.”

He went on to add, What we’re likely to see over the coming months are proceedings in the ICJ assuming the court accepts jurisdiction to deal with this which it is fully expected to do.”