Abu Dhabi – Atef AL Batal –
The International Court of Justice today commenced its oral hearings on the preliminary objections raised by the UAE against Qatar in the case “Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).”
The hearing will be held via video-link with the Court in The Hague due to COVID-19 related restrictions and will last one week. It is limited to addressing the technical question of whether the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction to decide the dispute between Qatar and the UAE concerning the CERD.
The UAE Ambassador to the Netherlands, H.E. Ambassador Dr. Hissa Al-Otaiba, remarked: “The measures that the UAE adopted upon severing relations with Qatar do not fall within the scope of application of the CERD. The UAE’s case is that the allegations against it cannot possibly fit the definition of what constitutes racial discrimination under the Convention.”
The case stems from the severance of relations with Qatar overits support for terrorism and extremism. In 2017, the UAE withdrew certain privileges connected to the possession of Qatari nationality, specifically the possibility for Qatari nationals to travel unrestricted and without a visa to the UAE. Ambassador Al-Otaiba said: “These privileges were provided in the past as an extension of relations between the two countries, and their withdrawal is wholly unrelated to racial discrimination, as Qatar complains. The imposition of visa applications for Qatari nationals is a consequence of the UAE’s differences with Qatar and the severance of relations.”
“The UAE takes pride in being an open and welcoming society. Qatari citizens continue to travel to and from and reside in the UAE. The UAE has consistently sought to minimize any negative effect that the dispute with the Government of Qatar may have on Qatari nationals and will continue to do so,” Ambassador Al-Otaiba added.
H.E. Abdullah Al Naqbi, Director of the International Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said: “The UAE also welcomes engagement with conciliation proceedings that are available between parties under the CERD.”
Al Naqbi added: “The UAE is committed to promoting friendly relations among nations in the region in the interest of a peaceful and prosperous Middle East and is open to closing the rift.”