Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
UAE constitution guarantees human rights and freedoms. It upholds all the human values practiced in a civilized country. It assures the integrity of every individual residing in the country. It provides equality and social justice for all citizens. It also projects the freedoms and rights of all citizens. It prohibits torture, arbitrary arrest and detention. It values civil liberties, including freedom of speech and press. It facilitates peaceful assembly and association, and the practice of religious beliefs.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has rightly endorsed and rightly stated that excellent human right record of UAE makes it a paradise for citizens and expatriates. All live in peace in a tolerant community that is free from segregation and injustice.” Government from top to bottom is determined to protect the human rights in the country. Right from the beginning the visionary leadership institutionalized different effective measures to promote social justice, interfaith harmony and rights of the minorities and labour workers from other countries.
UAE is the signatory of many international conventions on Human Rights which shows its strong commitments towards wellbeing of its people and labour workers at large. It is also signatory/party and active member of ILO Conventions. Some are given below as:
International Conventions ILO Conventions/ Elimination
The Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Forced and compulsory labor Convention 29
The Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
Forced and compulsory labor Convention 105
The Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid Discrimination in respect of employment and occupation Convention 111
The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Child labor Convention 138
The Rights of the Child Child labor Convention 182
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Signatory to the Arab Charter on Human Rights.
Source: UAE Labour Ministry
Most recently, Federal National Council strongly slammed the EU last month resolution about UAE human rights terming it baseless, prejudiced and has nothing to do with the ground realities. Dr. Anwar Gargash, the state minister of foreign affairs called it biased and containing “unsubstantiated accusations”.
“. Dr Anwar Gargash, said, the UAE’s human rights records should be viewed in totality, and not based on reports focusing on a single issue, hinting at the latest European Parliament resolution on the issue. UAE upholds the rights of people and has achieved immense socio-economic prosperity which is because of its balanced approach towards human rights issues. “As a country, we have demonstrated good governance and overall development. Our human development records speak of the overall situation,” he said.
UAE government has already introduced labour friendly measures due to which labour issues have taken centre stage in the UAE’s development process in recent years. It is being implemented to protect the expatriate workers’ rights and welfare. According to Labour Ministry of UAE, numerous efforts are being undertaken to ensure the safety of workers, guarantee payment of wages on time and to improve living and working conditions, as well as strict enforcement of law to minimise violations. UAE aims to manage and govern the working environment in line with international laws and best international labour practices. Some prominent labour-friendly measures are given below as:
UAE Labour Ministry Initiatives Significances
Unify the labour card validity for all workers Rationale management and implementation of labour cards would uphold the principles of fair-play and equal opportunities.
A multilingual booklet published ‘The Worker: Rights and Duties’ It was released by the Minister of Interior. Issued in six languages Arabic, English, Tagalog, Persian, Chinese and Urdu – the pocket book was distributed to all federal government departments, concerned NGOs, labour accommodations, and media outlets
The Ministry of Labour and World Bank signed an agreement Developing mechanisms to regulate the labour market as well as help build a labour market data system.
Labour Ministry initiative Extended the summer mid-day working ban from two to three months
The Ministry of Labour and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) collaborations It organized a workshop on ‘Protection of Labourers in the UAE’. The UAE has signed a technical cooperation agreement with the ILO to provide decent work in the country.
Women Visa Relaxation Labour Ministry now allows expatriate women who are under the sponsorship of their mothers, brothers, uncles or other family members, to work in the country.
Abu Dhabi Municipality “Al Raha Workers Residential Village” It has been built according to international specifications, equipped with modern amenities and can accommodate about 32,000 workers and technicians. It includes shopping centres, commercial outlets, clinics and health centres, security posts, post office, clubs and recreational facilities.
The Federal Human Resources law It is part of the government’s efforts to establish clear standards and effective managerial government measures to develop human capital, clarify the duties and rights of employees in the Federal Government and provide an appropriate work environment for all employees,
Source: UAE Labour Ministry (2011-2012)
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, emphasized the importance of children rights in the country. He stressed that all children have the right to live a safe life in a stable environment. He chaired the Cabinet meeting held at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, during which a draft federal law on the protection of children was discussed. “We will never relent with those who violate the fundamental rights of children,” he said. The new law covers all areas relating to children’s rights and contains mechanisms that will ensure its application.
The new law, approved by the Cabinet, includes 72 articles which cover all children’s rights guaranteed by international conventions and in accordance with the rules of Islamic Sharia and the principles of the Emirati Constitution. The law takes cares the health, educational, cultural and social rights of the child in addition to providing guarantees to provide their protection, together with the relevant mechanisms for this. One chapter specifies penalties for breaches of the law.
The UAE was crowned the membership of the UN Human Rights Council for a three year term starting from early 2013. Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, welcomed the the UAE victory, saying:” The win crowned a series of achievements made by the UAE in its human rights record over the recent years, particularly in areas of legislations to uphold and protect fundamental freedoms and legal rights of individuals, rights of women and children and advanced regulations on rights of foreign workforce.” He added that the achievements explicitly promote the values and culture of the UAE which based on tolerance, openness, justice, equality and human dignity. The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council for Arab States (GCC), Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, has appreciated UAE to become a member of Human Rights Council. It reflects the keenness of its leadership on rights of citizens and expatriates alike he said. It also manifests international recognition to UAE efforts in this respect as the country does not spare any efforts to preserve rights of all people he added.
The high-level majlis titled ‘Arab women leading the way in energy and climate change’ was recently held in UAE during which participants appreciated the tremendous role of the UAE women in the energy and climate change sectors. Dr. Mohammad Ahmad Al Murr, Speaker of the UAE Federal National Council, said in his keynote speech at the opening of the 3rd Arab Women Leadership Forum in Dubai that the size of investment in the UAE by Emirati women has passed the dozen billion dirhams while the number of investors is about 12,000 businesswomen. “The growth of participation by Emirati women in economic sectors was remarkable at 25.3 per cent per annum and the total value of female investment across the UAE contributed Dh12.4 billion,” he added.
The below given table shows, UAE government diversified but integrated efforts for the wellbeing of its people, common population and migrant workers. It encourages women empowerment. It promotes education, health care and housing facilities in the country.
National Level International Level
Ensuring country wide sustainable development. Its welfare initiatives focus on the empowerment of women, development of high-quality education and healthcare systems, as well as the assimilation of members of society with special needs and other vulnerable groups into the development process. Providing humanitarian aid and assistance to developing countries and protecting the environment and natural resources. The Government is also conscious about aligning its human rights efforts with international charters and customs. It reflects the country’s cultural heritage and religious values, which enshrine justice, equality and tolerance. Government upholds the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
UAE is going to celebrate its 41th National Day on December 2, 2012. United Arab Emirates constitution guarantees human rights. It protects the rights of common citizens and as well as expatriates. It has made significant progress in dealing with human rights issues in a short period of time. The Government has already introduced effective measures of human rights which are being implemented in letters and spirits.