Human rights chief concludes Gulf tour

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay on 27 April concluded her ten-day mission to the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. She is the first High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit all six GCC countries.

High Commissioner meets with President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zyed of the United Arab Emirates - © Emirates News Agency

“We believed that the time was ripe to strengthen our relationship with the GCC states and as a result achieve closer cooperation on human rights issues as the region goes through an important period of transformation,” Pillay told a press conference on 24 April in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

“So far, my hopes and expectations have been more than realized. Clearly the winds of change are blowing strongly throughout the region on a number of fronts – perhaps more strongly than we had anticipated when preparing this mission, and more strongly than many people in the outside world realize.”

Pillay also noted specific areas of concern that are common, to a greater or lesser degree, to all six countries. They include “women’s rights, statelessness, the situation of migrant workers, and freedom of expression, association and assembly.”

The High Commissioner’s ground-breaking mission took her to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, where she held meetings with heads of state, ministers, members of national human rights institutions and civil society.

Read the full opening statement of the High Commissioner’s press conference in Abu Dhabi.

27 April 2010