21 September 2021

TRENDS Research and Advisory issued a new study titled “Human Rights in the UAE: Comments on the European Parliament Resolution” refuting the resolution passed by the European Parliament on September 17, 2021 on the human rights record of the United Arab Emirates.

The study said that the resolution, which called for boycotting EXPO 2020 Dubai, used unjustifiably hostile and provocative language, and described it as prejudiced and unobjective. To convey the correct image and debunk the unfounded allegations in the resolution, the study highlighted the efforts being made by the UAE in the field of human rights.

The study confirmed that the UAE pays great attention to human rights as a key priority, stressing that the resolution will only dent the credibility of the European Parliament which passed it, because it was based on unobjective considerations.

Since its formation in 1971, the UAE has adopted a policy that promotes the value of the human being as a top priority, believing that the human element is the most important wealth of the country. Based on that policy, the UAE has been playing an important humanitarian role in service of all human beings, regardless of their religious, cultural, ideological or ethnic affiliations. All this has been done in addition to its varied efforts in protecting and promoting human rights. The latest example of these efforts was the formation of the National Human Rights Authority to protect human rights on the regional and international levels, the study said.

The study drew attention to a number of facts that refute the allegations of the European Parliament resolution and questioned the purpose behind it. The most salient of these facts was the timing of its issuance only day before the launch of EXPO 2020 Dubai; the international event which will be open to visitors from around the world for six months starting from October 1, 2021, and in which the UAE has invested great amount of time and effort in order to make it a resounding success. The study argued that the issuance of the resolution at this timing was influenced by endeavors of some leftist outfits sympathetic to political Islam groups seeking to undermine the success of EXPO 2020 Dubai.

It also argued that the extreme left groups do not want EXPO 2020 to be a success because it epitomizes the values of globalization, economic openness and liberalism, and they reject the socio-economic structures of contemporary societies which are founded on the principles and values of capitalism. They oppose the values of globalization and neoliberalism.

The study described the position of political Islam groups as vengeful. they look to take ‘revenge’ on the UAE for its efforts against them both at home and abroad because they pose a serious threat to the values of nation state and citizenship by spreading destructive ideas and hatred and seek to destabilize and destroy homelands.

According to the study, the European resolution lacked the objectivity and impartiality to mention both negative and positive aspects of the human rights record of the UAE. Even if the European Parliament saw some negative aspects that still need to be fixed – which would mostly be presumptive and based more on speculation than hard facts – it should not gratuitously ignore the many steps and measures taken by the UAE government to promote human rights in the country, in particular, and the global humanitarian role it has been playing, in general. It added that the UAE has continuously been striving to improve and promote human rights, but the European Parliament unfairly ignored that.

The study said the European Parliament resolution relied on incorrect and unreliable information. Its provisions and clauses were based on a set of false information published by some suspicious human rights organizations which get information from untrustworthy sources for their reports instead of information issued by official bodies. Therefore, these organizations and their reports are biased as they present only one side of the story and completely ignore the other. The study added that many experts have confirmed that several members of the European Parliament, especially the left parties, have been largely influenced by the reports issued by these organizations whose staffs know only little about the UAE. According to these experts, “these reports are written based on fake news they receive from the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups which always fabricate prejudiced stories about the UAE”.

Furthermore, the study said that the European Parliament resolution reduced human rights in the UAE to a single case of Ahmed Mansoor, who was sentenced to prison by a UAE court after a fair trial. This is an extraordinary flaw. The resolution completely disregarded all the measures taken by the UAE to protect the rights of all people living in its territory and took a single case as representative of human rights situation in the country.

The study pointed out that the European Parliament flagrantly ignored the global humanitarian role of the UAE. Any objective report should reflect both the negative and positive aspects of the human rights situation in a country. However, the resolution simply disregarded the UAE’s efforts in supporting human rights across the world through humanitarian and development assistance, which covers important aspects of economic and social rights of people, as well as its efforts in spreading the values of tolerance and peace around the world.

The study emphasized that human rights in the UAE receive undeniable support and protection. The UAE has taken many constitutional, legal, political, social, economic and institutional measures to ensure the fundamental rights for all persons without any kind of discrimination, such as on the basis of color, race, religion, or nationality. In addition to that, the UAE guarantees human rights at the constitutional and legislative levels. Its constitution and legislations include provisions that preserve and ensure human rights for every person living in its territory. Facts on the ground clearly show the commitment to the UAE to protection and promotion of these rights, both at home and abroad.

The study also dealt with various issues relating to human rights, particularly child labor, human trafficking, and combating discrimination and hatred. It showed that the UAE is implementing a host of national policies and measures, the most important of which was the document issued on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UAE. The document, entitled ‘Principles of the 50’, is a strategic roadmap for the country’s new era of political, economic and social development. It contains 10 principles, the 8th of which is dedicated to promotion of human rights and states that: “The value system in the UAE shall remain based on openness and tolerance, the preservation of rights, the consolidation of the rule of law, the preservation of human dignity, the respect of cultures, the strengthening of human fraternity, and the respect of national identity. The country will remain supportive, through its foreign policy, of all initiatives, pledges and international organisations that promote peace, openness and human fraternity.

The study showed that the judicial system of the UAE is fully independent and that the constitution does not permit any interference in it from any individual or entity. Also, judges exercise their judicial powers based only on the law and their consciences. It also confirmed that the rights of prisoners are protected and that all prison facilities are provided respecting their rights. These facilities are, in fact, centers for rehabilitation of prisoners.

With regard to the rights of migrant workers, the study confirmed that the UAE has taken numerous measures that ensure their rights. It has issued the labor law that regulates labor and workers affairs in the private sector, and obligated employers to abide by health, environmental and safety regulations and to provide comprehensive health insurance for all workers.

The study also talked about the Emirati official bodies and government agencies in charge of human rights affairs, noting that the UAE has institutionalized its national human rights promotion efforts. In December 2020, it established the National Human Rights Authority to oversee and coordinate with all concerned local and international parties regarding the human rights file. The National Human Rights Authority aim to strengthen the regional and international position of the country, and develop networks with individuals and institutions around the world in a way that serves the country’s goals and interests.

With regard to women’s rights, the study mentioned that the UAE Cabinet approved in May 2015 the formation of the UAE Gender Balance Council with the objectives of reducing the gender gap across all government sectors, enhancing the country’s ranking in global reports on gender equality, and achieving gender balance in decision-making positions. The aim is to attain the UAE’s target of entering top 25 countries in the gender balance index by 2021. Because of these efforts, the UAE was ranked 18th globally and 1st regionally in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2020 Gender Inequality Index. Also, to promote the culture of peace and tolerance of the other, the post of the Minister of State for Tolerance was created for the first time in the UAE, and on July 5, 2020, the ministry was renamed the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence.

The study highlighted national mechanisms for promoting and protecting human rights in the UAE, particularly the rights of human trafficking victims. The country has established shelter centers for women, children and victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. These centers receive victims of human trafficking and provide them with temporary shelter and the necessary care before they are returned to their home countries. Moreover, the General Department of Human Rights in Dubai Police was established to provide psychological, social and legal support for women and children who are victims of human trafficking.

The study drew attention to the UAE’s international commitments to human rights. The country is signatory of several international conventions, namely: the nine International Labor Organization conventions, which cover issues relating to: working hours, forced labor, labor inspections, night work for women, equal wages, minimum working age and forms of child labor. The UAE is also a signatory of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo protocol); the Arab Charter on Human Rights 2008; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Charter of the League of Arab States; the Charter of the United Nations; the four Geneva Conventions of International Humanitarian Law; the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The study concluded by stressing that the UAE pays great attention to the human rights file and places it among its top priorities. It is at the core of the country’s vision that the human being is the most valuable asset of a nation. This is clearly reflected in the global humanitarian role of the UAE through which it strives to preserve human dignity and protect the right of every person to a decent life, regardless of their religion, culture or race. Hence, this resolution will only shatter the credibility of the European Parliament, because it was based on false, unfounded allegations.