OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS
SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
United Arab Emirates
The Committee considered the eleventh periodic report of the United Arab
Emirates (CERD/C/279/Add.1) at its 1114th meeting, on 9 August 1995 (CERD/C/SR.1113).
The report was introduced by the representative of the State party, who
asked the Committee to excuse his Government's absence from the Committee's
work for a number of years and the late submission of the periodic report,
which was due to external circumstances and to administrative factors. He
recalled that his country was a young country, which had not gained its
independence until 2 December 1971.
He explained that the Constitution and a number of legislative provisions,
some of them enacted under the British Protectorate, guaranteed all persons
within the territory of the United Arab Emirates freedom of opinion and
expression, religious freedom and the right of appeal to the courts if those
rights were violated.
Foreign communities in the United Arab Emirates had the right to open private
schools providing instruction in their own language and according to their
own methods. In 1980, a labour relations act had been adopted. The United
Arab Emirates had also ratified a number of ILO Conventions such as Conventions
Nos. 1, 29, 81 and 89. In 1981, Act No. 20 had been adopted, guaranteeing
the freedom to form occupational associations without State interference.
The United Arab Emirates also provided considerable development cooperation
assistance, in particular to Africa.
The members of the Committee welcomed the presence of a high-level delegation
to re-establish the dialogue on the implementation of the Convention in
the State party. They noted with regret, however, the long delay in submitting
the periodic report, which was the first since 1986. They also pointed out
that there were many gaps in the report, particularly with regard to statistics
on the composition of the population and the socio-economic situation of
the various population groups, and that it had not been drawn up according
to the Committee's guidelines for the preparation of reports. However, some
of those gaps had been filled in by the delegation's oral explanations.
The members of the Committee asked for a more detailed explanation than
was given in the Government's report regarding the status of the Convention
in the internal legal order.
One obvious deficiency noted concerned the application of article 4 of the
Convention. Although offending against religious beliefs and defamation
were punishable, it was difficult to treat such offences as racist propaganda
or incitement to racial discrimination. Consequently, the members of the
Committee urged the Government to review its legislation and ensure that
it was in conformity with article 4 of the Convention.
With regard to the application of article 5 of the Convention, members of
the Committee asked to what extent foreign workers - who, according to some
sources, made up 80 per cent of the total labour force - were entitled to
have their children join them and to have them educated in their own language,
and whether those children were free to practise their religion. They also
asked which countries had bilateral agreements with the United Arab Emirates
regarding the status of foreign workers and what was the content of those
agreements. The members of the Committee expressed their deep concern at
information from various sources that foreign workers, particularly women
from Asian countries, were subjected to inhuman treatment, and asked for
clarification in that regard. They also asked whether aliens living in the
United Arab Emirates had the right to assemble freely and practise their
The members of the Committee asked about the current situation of the four
Indian citizens living in the United Arab Emirates who had been sentenced
to imprisonment by the authorities for having insulted Islam in a theatrical
performance given by an Indian association in 1992. They also asked about
the situation of the three aliens arrested in 1993 for anti-Islamic activities.
Clarification was requested regarding the remedies available to victims
of racist acts: were such offences dealt with by the secular or Islamic
courts? Could the Convention be invoked directly by individuals before the
Islamic courts? Had the Convention ever been invoked before any court?
Replying to the Committee's questions and observations, the representative
of the State party said that the Committee would be provided with full statistics
and written replies to some of its questions.
Regarding the status of the Convention in the internal legal order, under
article 120 of the Constitution, the President of the Federal Supreme Council
approved international instruments by decree, and any decree approving an
international treaty was enforceable and could be invoked before the courts
like any other law. The International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination had thus far never been invoked before a
With regard to article 4 of the Convention, the delegation assured the Committee
that it would endeavour to encourage the legislature to enact special legislation
implementing that article.
With regard to article 5, the representative of the State party explained
that, with the exception of political matters and the acquisition of nationality,
aliens living in the United Arab Emirates enjoyed the same rights as nationals.
At its 1124th meeting, held on 16 August 1995, the Committee adopted the
following concluding observations:
Resumption of the dialogue with the State party, which had submitted no
report since 1986, and the presence of a high-level delegation are noted
with satisfaction. Note is also taken of the quality of the dialogue and
the constructive spirit of the delegation.
It is noted that the State party has not made the declaration provided for
in article 14 of the Convention, and members of the Committee requested
that consideration should be given to the possibility of making that declaration.
(b) Positive aspects
The legislation adopted in accordance with the Convention since the last
periodic report was submitted, in particular that concerning the right of
foreign communities established in the territory of the State party to open
private schools for teaching in their mother tongue and that concerning
labour relations, is noted with satisfaction.
Appreciation is also expressed for the useful information presented orally
by the delegation, including the promise that consideration would be given
to introducing legislation to implement article 4 of the Convention.
Note is also taken of the readiness of the delegation to submit to its Government
the concerns of the Committee with regard to certain inadequacies in the
(c) Principal subjects of concern
Owing to the inadequacy of the information contained in the report of the
State party concerning legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures
taken to give effect to the Convention, the Committee is unable to form
an exact idea of the progress achieved in implementing the Convention.
It is noted with concern that the provisions of article 4 of the Convention
are not reflected in the country's national legislation. It is recalled
in this connection that penal legislation should contain specific provisions
against racist acts.
Although information was provided on mother-tongue education and on access
to health and work, more information is needed about the implementation
of other aspects of article 5 of the Convention.
Keen concern was expressed as to the allegations of ill-treatment of foreign
workers, including women domestic servants of foreign origin. The delegation
clarified certain aspects of this question, which should nevertheless be
given special attention.
The information provided by the State party regarding effective remedies
against any acts of racial discrimination is insufficient.
(d) Suggestions and recommendations
The Committee requests the Government of the State party to provide in its
next report the information whose absence or insufficiency has been noted.
The Committee recommends that the State party discharge all the obligations
set out in article 4 of the Convention. The Government should to that end
take into account the Committee's General Recommendation XV.
The Committee recommends that the State party show the utmost diligence
in preventing acts of ill-treatment being committed against foreign workers,
especially foreign women domestic servants, and take all appropriate measures
to ensure that they are not subjected to any racial discrimination.
The Committee recommends that the State party should ratify the amendments
to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, as adopted by the 14th meeting
of States parties.
The Committee recommends that the twelfth periodic report of the State party,
due on 21 July 1997, should be comprehensive.