GENEVA (11 September 2019) – A UN human rights expert has commended Qatar for its significant contribution to human rights-based solidarity with other States and peoples, while identifying climate change and the treatment of migrants as areas for further action.
“I commend Qatar for being the first State in the Gulf region to issue a standing invitation to the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, and for its active engagement with international and regional organisations including those that work in the human rights field,” said the UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Obiora C. Okafor.
Presenting a preliminary statement at the end of a nine-day visit to Qatar, Okafor praised the Government for creating and strengthening the infrastructure needed to promote and effectively deliver its international solidarity agenda. He especially welcomed developments in the areas of humanitarian relief, education and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals , all of which have implications for the enjoyment of human rights.
“I urge Qatar to integrate climate change issues more deeply into its development strategies to ensure that the country works towards sustainable development, both domestically and abroad, given the adverse impacts climate change is having on the enjoyment of human rights around the world,” said Okafor. He also encouraged Qatar to pursue renewable energy technologies and to cut emissions.
Despite the continued existence of certain aspects of the Kafala sponsorship system for migrant workers, the expert welcomed improvements to the system and ongoing efforts to abolish it. He urged the Government to expand recently enacted protection to all foreign workers, including to migrant domestic workers and others not currently covered.
Okafor called on Qatar to do more to expand access to justice for workers facing exploitation and abuse, and highlighted the need for a higher, non-discriminatory and permanent minimum wage.
The Independent Expert will present a report detailing his conclusions and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2020.
Mr. Obiora C. Okafor was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity in June 2017. He is the York Research Chair in International and Transnational Legal Studies (Senior Tier) and a tenured Full Professor of Law at the Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Toronto, Canada. He is also a former Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.
The Independent Experts 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 organisation and serve in their individual capacity.