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UN human rights chief to visit six Gulf Cooperation Council States from 17-26 April

GENEVA -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will on Saturday begin a ten-day visit to the six Member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), in an unprecedented effort by the UN human rights office to engage more actively and effectively with the governments and civil society in the region.

She will seek to gain first-hand understanding of current dynamics in the GCC region in relation to human rights, including reported progress in some areas as well as specific issues of particular concern. She will also examine ways in which her office can provide further support and advice to the individual GCC countries.

Her itinerary will be as follows:

Saudi Arabia: 17-19 April
Qatar: 19-20 April
Kuwait: 20-21 April
Bahrain: 21-23 April
United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi): 23-25 April
Oman: 25-26 April.

Although Ms. Pillay visited Qatar in May 2009 in order to open a new UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre, this year’s visit marks the first time that a High Commissioner for Human Rights has visited all six GCC States during the same mission. It is also the first time any High Commissioner for Human Rights has visited Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates or Oman (Bahrain received the then High Commissioner Mary Robinson in 2002).

During her visit to the six GCC countries, she is expected to meet with Heads of State, senior ministers and other government officials, and members of civil society.