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Resolution of ‘racism’ complaint brought by Qatar against UAE and Saudi Arabia

The ad hoc Conciliation Commission was established by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in the wake of a diplomatic crisis between the neighbouring Gulf nations, nearly eight years ago.  

“I hope that the consensus found by Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia to discontinue the proceedings is the result of a genuine dialogue between the parties to end the dispute which arose in 2018 concerning allegations of racial discrimination,” said Verene Shepherd, the CERD chair.  

Severed ties and sanctions 

In June 2017, four countries – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt – severed diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar, citing alleged support for terrorism. 

The following March, Qatar submitted complaints against the UAE and Saudi Arabia to the CERD, marking a first in the UN Committee’s history. 

The authorities claimed that political and economic sanctions, including the blockade of its borders, were directed at Qatari citizens solely based on their nationality, without legitimate justification. 

An amicable settlement 

The CERD monitors global implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which entered into force more than 50 years ago. 

Two ad hoc Conciliation Commissions were appointed in February 2020 to discuss the complaints. 

The Committee commended all countries concerned for their cooperation towards reaching an amicable settlement to the racial discrimination disputes.  

“Such cooperation demonstrates States parties’ steadfast engagement to the collective enforcement of the Convention,” said Ms. Shepherd. 

Qatar and the UAE had both requested and agreed to end their proceedings at an ad hoc Conciliation Commission meeting on 26 January. 

The second Commission involving Saudi Arabia wrapped up last year following agreement by both parties. 

CERD has registered another case, Palestine against Israel, which is still pending.  

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