Updated: Jul 28, 2018
On 5 June 2017 Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) imposed a land and sea blockade accusing Qatar of funding terrorism and fomenting regional instability. Qatari citizens were given 14 days to leave their territory and citizens of the UAE were banned from travelling or residing in Qatar, meaning the separation of thousands of Qatari and UAE mixed families and led to other economic and social repercussions.
For this reason, Qatar filed a case against the UAE before the International Court of Justice, accusing them of violating human rights established in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for expelling Qataris and closing UAE airspace and seaports to Qatar. The UAE was the only state out the four involved against which the complaint was directed for being the only state party to this convention.
On 23 June, the ICJ announced the verdict of the case, ordering the UAE to allow the families to be reunited, students to finish their studies and access to Emirates courts and tribunals for those Qataris affected. The ruling is compulsory under article 41 of the ICJ statute meaning the UAE must comply or face further legal actions.
As Toby Cadman explained, “It is certainly not the end of the case, it is the very beginning of the case, but it is an important first ruling that upholds the position that the state of Qatar has taken; that this is a matter that falls under the jurisdiction of the ICJ and that the acts complained of are capable of being considered violations of the conventions.”
Mr. Cadman also highlighted the importance of the decision of the ICJ to disregard the UAE’s closing remarks that stated they had not taken action against Qatar.
Whether the UN’s top court ruling will end the nearing 14-month blockade remains to be seen, but the process can be expected to be long and complex according to Mr. Cadman.
This video was published by Al Jazeera English, in its youtube channel “Inside Story: Season 2018” on 24th July 2018, and is available at the following link: