GENEVA (7 January 2021) – The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Douhan, today welcomed Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal of sanctions against Qatar as a “positive first step” and urged the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to follow suit.
“I am encouraged by the recent decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to open land, sea and airspace borders with Qatar and invite Qatar’s Emir to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia, which apparently could not have happened without the support of other three countries,” Douhan said. “I also commend Kuwaiti and the United States mediation efforts.”
The Supreme Council of the GCC held its 41st session of the Heads of States summit on 5 January and issued the Al-Ula Declaration promoting coordination and integration among the GCC countries.
“I welcome the ongoing constructive engagement between Qatar and the four States and hope that there will be other positive steps soon,” the UN expert said.
The four countries imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and of being too close to Iran. They closed their land borders, air and sea ports, and airspace to Qataris.
Douhan said the sanctions had harmed Qataris’ fundamental rights and freedoms connected to family life, education, work, health, private property, religion, expression and access to justice.The measures also affected Qatari students studying abroad and Muslims wanting to make the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia.
“The decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to open the land, sea and airspace borders with Qatar is a positive first step. I urge the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to follow suit, and ask four Gulf States to ensure meaningful reparation to the victims of human rights violations caused by the sanctions, including couples in mixed marriages and their children, migrant workers who lost their jobs and benefits, Qatari nationals with properties, jobs or businesses in those countries that imposed the sanctions, and many others,” the Special Rapporteur said.
After a two-week visit to Qatar in November last year, Douhan had called on the five countries to resume cooperation and to settle political disputes on the basis of the rule of law.
Ms Alena Douhan (Belarus) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the Human Rights Council in March 2020. Ms. Douhan has extensive experience in the fields of international law and human rights as, a Professor of international law at the Belarusian State University (Minsk), a visiting Professor at the the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed conflict, (Bochum, Germany) and the Director of the Peace Research Centre (Minsk). She received her PhD at the Belarusian State University in 2005 and obtained Dr. hab. in International Law and European Law in 2015 (Belarus). Ms. Douhan’s academic and research interests are in the fields of international law, sanctions and human rights law, international security law, law of international organizations, international dispute settlement, and international environmental law.
Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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