Human Rights in the UAE
The General Overview of the Human Rights
Human rights are the rights of every person, regardless of the ethnicity, nationality, language, gender, color of skin, place of residence, religion, or another status. These rights bear an interrelated nature and cannot be divisible. All people have equal human rights, eliminating all kinds of discrimination.
The law system guarantees generally acknowledged human rights, manifested in various sources of international law, including international customs, treaties, and general principles of law. The international law, which primary aim is to secure the human rights, in general, implements the activities, which would sustain and secure the human rights along with the fundamental liberties.
People have always fought for their rights everywhere; however, this process was manifested in different ways since various nations have a diverse understanding of human rights. People frequently achieve the realization of their rights, including the factor of the society quality: if, for instance, the society is not advanced or if a person is at the very bottom of the social ladder. Nonetheless, the contemporary public institution of human rights occurred only in the civil society. As numerous investigators in this field suppose, the development of early capitalism contributed to the development of the notion of the human rights (Human Rights in Dubai, n.d.).
In this regard, it becomes possible to recall the long struggle for women’s rights in England in the 19th-20th centuries, the persecution of the Communards, the Dreyfus affair and the regime of Petain in France, fascism in Italy, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, and Romania, and the power of the ‘black colonels’ in Greece. Only in the second half of the 1970s, the society was able to address and deal with the problem of the human rights violation (The UAE National Report, n.d.).
However, the Western countries, obviously nostalgic about the era of ‘white man’s burden’ and ‘civilizing mission’, have a tendency to teach the peoples of the Third World and Eastern Europe. Freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights have to become the essential approach in meeting the human needs and satisfying the current tendencies in the human rights development. Thus, they have to become the target for the global governments. Consequently, this paper aims at regarding the key perspectives of the UAE human rights development and the conditions, which contribute to and prevent them from the formation (Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, n.d.).
The UAE Actions to Develop the Human Rights
Like in any other country, in the UAE, the concept of human rights is guaranteed by the legislative bodies and protected by the police. The structure of the police force consists of regular units, which are responsible for maintaining security and public order in the country. In the UAE, the Ministry of the Human Rights considers human rights as one of its priorities, relying on a strategy of fairness, equality, integrity, and protection of human rights (Ministry of Interior, n.d.). It is a part of the approach, generally considered as a means, which provides protection and stability. It also assists in the achievement of the greater security and development of its measures in multi-ethnic society. The police of the UAE is called to contribute to the development and regulation of the laws, which have to control the human rights.
Among the recommendations adopted, it is of a great importance for the UAE to implement and develop the approach to the human rights. The UAE invited experts to assess the situation of human rights and human trafficking, as well as to improve the living conditions of unskilled workers in the country. Their participation in seminars helped improve the level of education. The adoption of the law on protection of children’s rights and the adoption of national legislation on freedom of expression and the media were other important steps toward the human rights evolving.
However, due to the most recent events in the region, a number of investigators have a conviction that there is a significant violation of human rights in the UAE. Particularly, the arrests of Muslim activists, accused of the threats to national security of the Emirates, have continued. Thus, the question of human rights can be regarded from two perspectives. On the one hand, one can view the arrests of activists as a preventive measure to save the country from coming to power of the Islamists. On the other hand, the analysts believe that most security forces, in fact, did not solve any problems (Human Rights in Dubai, n.d.). The most interesting fact is that new activists were arrested for protesting against the arrest of the previous ones.
The UAE has contributed largely to following the basic principles of human rights and supported international efforts to maintain the peace and security. In particular, death sentences and amputations are rarely applied. There is also a right to follow any religion. Furthermore, nowadays, the attitude toward the citizens of Western countries who have an addiction to alcohol is quite tolerant. The exception is Sharjah, where there is an absolute prohibition of the alcohol drinks and drugs. Nevertheless, women in the UAE do not have enough rights, and, as a result, very few of them play any meaningful role in decision-making in politics and business.
Dubai and the UAE, in general, have succeeded in creating an image of a completely secure and politically stable country, where there have been no terrorist acts for a long period. In addition, the country has a disciplined and effective internal security structure, ensuring the suppression of any incident. The UAE strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center September 11, 2001. Furthermore, together with the Western allied forces, it participated in the first and second Gulf War. Relations with Iran went wrong because of the discussions on the issue of sovereignty of islands of Abu Musa, Greater, and Lesser Tumbs in the Gulf. Until 1979, disputes about borders arose between emirates periodically, but the emergence of promising companies that explore oil led to the agreement of formal boundaries.
Responses to the Human Rights in the UAE
Despite the fact that the UAE is a member of the UN Council on Human Rights and signed the Charter of the Council, the Emirate’s government neglects its responsibility in the area of human rights. Currently, the UAE is criticized in connection with the violation of human rights within the country.
The UAE is known to be one of the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and represents one of the monarchies in the Arab states. However, the monarchy of the contemporary UAE is trying to introduce the Western way of life in various personal freedoms. Nonetheless, inherited family traditions, which bear a strict nature, still dominate the political life. As a result, in a country, there can be no talk of a real choice, elected parliament, human rights, and civil society.
The political system in the UAE is the ruling power structure, which creates a closed society with personal freedoms. In reality, these liberties do not go together with Islamic traditions, customs, and logics borrowed from the Western way of life.
In such an atmosphere, even peaceful political activities are considered as a crime. For instance, elections are not held directly by popular vote and the parties cannot lead a free and independent political life. Human rights defenders in such a system cannot work effectively and provide any sort of criticizing. Until now, it was not common to report on the poor conditions in which the political prisoners were kept, which is another violation of human rights. Most of the prisoners are known to be tortured. They are forbidden to meet with their families and relatives and are frequently imprisoned for a long time without a trial (Human Rights in Dubai, n.d.).
The Emirati community named “Call for the Reforms” is considered as a branch of “Muslim Brotherhood” in this country. It is one of the political entities, which have repeatedly been subject to ill-treatment by the monarchy of the UAE. Many of the members of the Company encountered numerous judicial and legal violations based on the decision of the court. Their majority is currently sentenced to long terms and is serving the sentences (The UAE National Report, n.d.).
Another case of the offense in the UAE is the government’s approach to foreign labor as numerous human rights organizations repeatedly criticized the UAE government. Despite the fact that the UAE is a member of the UN Council on Human Rights, the modern monarchical power showed no interest in the provision of reports on the situation of human rights in the country. In addition, it does not allow observers from international human rights organizations to take an active role in this area.
The UAE human rights have not been developed in unison with the economic development. It means that there is a constant need to connect the normalization of human rights in this country with the contemporary perception of the legality and law practices in other states. Despite the fact that the UAE’s government does not meet international norms and standards of human rights, it manages to qualify the right to advocate human rights in other countries.
Domestic Actions within the UAE to Meet the Human Rights
The domestic policy of the UAE aims at further strengthening of the monarchy by maintaining the restrictions on the political and social activities, as well as tightening censorship and control concerning both citizens of the countries and the foreign policies. The UAE plans and distributes significant funds for the strengthening of the police apparatus and the development of security cooperation with other countries. It is done to sustain the human rights development within the country (UAE is keen on tackling human rights, 2008).
The purpose of the domestic policy is the creation of an economy that meets modern requirements with the help of investment income from the oil export and petroleum products. All these measures aim at improving the social conditions of the indigenous population. In the recent years, there has been more emphasis on the market principles in the economy and privatization. The country pays particular attention to the development of international tourism and enhancing its role as the commercial center of international importance. The foreign policy of the UAE is built on the principles of a balanced approach to relations with different countries, with a particular priority in relations with Britain.
The domestic policies in the UAE have already made a step to have the human rights issue raised and pointed out the ways of its practical solution. In fact, it happened before the issue began to occupy the minds of European thinkers. The Muslim community enjoyed political and religious freedoms when the political oppression and social injustice dominated other parts of the world.
The comfortable conditions of life are difficult to imagine without any freedom. The UAE recognizes the human civil and political rights, including the right to life, security, freedom of movement, equality, non-discrimination, justice, honor, participation in the management of society, freedom of thought, expression, religion, education, social security, privacy, family, and so on. In accordance with the most recent statistics, “the UAE earned a 93 per cent rating for providing right to health care followed by an 85 per cent rating for right to life” (UAE top for human rights in Arab countries, 2013). This index can be characterized as the progressive one.
The recognition of these freedoms does not mean that people have the right to an absolute and unlimited freedom close to anarchy. It generates social injustice, and the consistent implementation of the social justice principles requires the restriction of freedom.
In accordance with the most recent Emirati reports on the human rights development, measures to implement the human rights in the country
…encompass several areas, such as: construction of public housing; the establishment and development of power plants and water installations; modernization of road networks and bridges; the establishment and development of hospitals and health-care centres; the construction and maintenance of dams; and the development of fishing ports (UPR 2nd cycle, 2013).
The domestic policies of the UAE are currently permitting everyone to have the right to dispose of their actions. It means that individuals have no right to harm the lives, honor, or property of another person, unless they have committed a crime, earning the appropriate treatment. The Quran says that Allah has honored the man with reason, made him a governor of the earth, and risen above many other creatures. The recognition of human dignity means that all people, without exception, pay respect to humane treatment due to the reason that we are all human beings.
The propaganda of these values has recently become an essential function of the policies aimed at democratization. The media space of the Arab world is filled with a great number of advertisements, which stand for the human rights development within the UAE. The UAE’s government finances these advertisements.
The paper dealt with the key tendencies in the development of human rights in the UAE, a non-democratic Islamic country. It determined the necessity to study the ways the world acclaimed notion penetrating the country. According to the domestic policies of the UAE, the state is expected to take care of people and to create the conditions where individuals can realize their creative and intellectual potential and make the largest contribution to the economic development of society. Labor arranges the human life, mobilizes its internal energy, sends it to achieve various objectives, gives people the confidence, and satisfies the need of having a healthy and beneficial lifestyle. The fact that “the life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred, whether a person is Muslim or not” (Human Rights in Dubai, n.d.) has a tendency to influence the particularities of the human rights development in the UAE.
For instance, the human right of work extends the human perception of the world to comprehend the traditions and the way of life of previous generations and to thank God for each new achievement. In addition, people have the right to express freely their thoughts, regardless of their political views and religion, under conditions if it does not infringe upon the rights of others. Freedom of speech and thought is a necessary factor in the intellectual and cultural development of society. In the societies, which respect human rights and the open expression of their beliefs, it is easier to defend the truth, uphold the justice and deal with errors and injustice.