The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) concluded the discussion session of the Second State Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, held in Geneva from 7 to 8 August 2017.
The UAE participated with a high-level delegation, which included representatives from the federal and local government agencies and the relevant civil society organisations working in the country. The delegation was headed by Dr Abdulrahim Yousif Al-Awadhi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Legal Affairs, and Advisor to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, with the participation of Ambassador Obaid Salem Al-Zaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva.
Ms Anastasia Crickley, the Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, welcomed the members of the delegation of the participating State in the discussion session and praised the composition of the delegation which included various stakeholders in the State and civil society institutions. She also expressed her pleasure at the UAE’s progress in the area of human rights, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
Al-Awadhi affirmed that the State acceded to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1974, has scrupulously adhered to its provisions and submitted its periodic reports on the implementation of the Convention. It has also acceded to other international human rights conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRD), and has submitted its periodic reports thereon in 2015 and 2016.
”The State has made great efforts to strengthen its legislative and legal system to combat racial discrimination. In this context, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, issued the Federal Decree Law No. 2 of 2015 on Combating Discrimination and Hatred, which criminalises acts related to blasphemy and defamation of any religion and its sacred things, provides for the fight against all forms of discrimination and rejects hate speech made by any means or forms of expression. The law prohibits insulting the Divine Entity, any religion, any prophet, any messenger, any of the holy books or places of worship, as well as making discrimination among individuals or groups based on the ground of religion, creed, doctrine, sect, caste, race, colour or ethnic origin. The law also criminalises any speech or conduct which may incite sedition, prejudicial action or discrimination among individuals or groups. The State also passed Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 on Combating Human Trafficking Crimes, which was amended by Federal Law No. 1 of 2015 that provides for dissuasive measures against anyone who commits any of the human trafficking crimes as well as mechanisms for protecting victims,” he explained.
During the interactive dialogue, Abdulrahim Alawadhi, head of the UAE delegation, said that the UAE is a place where tolerance, peace, multiculturalism and acceptance of the other are valued and nurtured. Its legislation has ensured, under its wise leadership, respect and appreciation for all. Since the last review of its report on combating racial discrimination, the State has developed and strengthened its institutional structure through which it has been able to become a model worthy of emulation in all fields.
Al-Awadhi also noted that the UAE efforts have not been limited to protect the rights of its nationals, but in fact it included those of all people from different nationalities residing on its territory. The UAE is home to more than 200 nationalities living and working in dignity, respect and harmony, enjoying justice, equality and respect.
He also stressed during the interactive dialogue that the State has made efforts to guarantee religious freedom, which is enshrined in the Constitution. The Government has facilitated the establishment of places of worship for various religions and creeds, granting them free land to build houses of worship. In the United Arab Emirates, there are in fact dozens of Christian churches and Hindu temples. Christians and members of other faiths living in the UAE enjoy full freedom to participate in rituals and rites in an atmosphere of tolerance, coexistence and freedom of worship.
In recognition of the spirit of tolerance that characterises the UAE, Alawadhi pointed out to the visit made by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in September 2016, to the Vatican, during which he met with Pope Francis, Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The visit was part of the message of tolerance, dialogue and coexistence, for which all religions yearn, in order to achieve security, peace and stability in the region and the world.
The Committee commended the State party’s submission of its periodic report and valued the information contained in it, which included the record of the State’s progress in the area of human rights, particularly with regard to its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. During the discussion, the members of the UN Committee presented their comments and questions on the national report, which were answered by the UAE delegation members at length. This contributed to highlighting the efforts of the UAE to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination and consolidate the values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence, making it scoring high rankings in many relevant international indexes and reports.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the head of the UAE delegation stressed that the respect and safety of every individual and the guarantee of equality and social justice as well as the fundamental freedoms of all individuals are enshrined in the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates. He also stressed the importance of this interactive dialogue to benefit from the Committee’s expertise and keep abreast of best practices towards the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination at all national, regional and international levels.
Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs