The United Arab Emirates: Joint Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review - 43rd Session of the UPR Working Group
1.1. CIVICUS is a global alliance of CSOs and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has members in more than 180 countries throughout the world.
1.2. The Emirates Detainees Advocacy Centre is a CSO founded in 2021 by a group of human rights activists to support detainees of conscience in the UAE and shed light on their cases.
1.3. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent CSO, founded in 2011 and based in Lebanon, that works to provide support and protection to HRDs in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries by promoting the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.
1.4. The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), established in 1985, is the main coalition of international CSOs fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. OMCT has over 200 affiliated organisations in its SOS-Torture Network.
1.5. In this submission, CIVICUS, Emirates Detainees Advocacy Centre (EDAC), Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) examine the Government of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) compliance with its international human rights obligations to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society. Specifically, we analyse the UAE’s fulfilment of the rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression and unwarranted restrictions on human rights defenders (HRDs) since its previous UPR examination in 2018. To this end, we assess the UAE’s implementation of recommendations received during the 3rd UPR cycle relating to these issues and provide follow-up recommendations.
1.6. During the 3rd UPR cycle, the Government of UAE received 49 recommendations relating to the space for civil society (civic space). All 49 recommendations were accepted. However, an evaluation of a range of legal sources and human rights documentation addressed in this submission demonstrates that the UAE has only implemented one recommendation. The government has persistently failed to address unwarranted restrictions on civic space since its last UPR examination.
1.7. We are deeply concerned by barriers against civil society organisations (CSOs) operating independently in the UAE and the persistent targeting of CSOs. The UAE authorities have created a hostile environment for CSOs and denied labour unions the right to operate and advocate for the rights of workers.
1.8. We are further alarmed by the use of security-related legislation to persecute human rights defenders (HRDs), academics, journalists and bloggers, who have been subjected to harsh prison conditions and kept in detention beyond their sentences.
1.9. As a result of these issues, civic space in the UAE is currently rated as closed by the CIVICUS Monitor, indicating the existence of particularly severe civic space restrictions.
● Section 2 of this submission examines the UAE’s implementation of UPR recommendations and compliance with international human rights standards related to the protection of HRDs, civil society activists and journalists.
● Section 3 examines the UAE’s implementation of UPR recommendations and compliance with international human rights standards concerning the freedom of association.
● Section 4 examines the UAE’s implementation of UPR recommendations and compliance with international human rights standards concerning the freedom of expression and media freedom.
● Section 5 examines the UAE’s implementation of UPR recommendations and compliance with international human rights standards related to the freedom of peaceful assembly.
● Section 6 contains recommendations to address the concerns raised and advance implementation of recommendations under the 3rd cycle.
● Annex 1 tracks the UAE’s implementation of 3rd cycle UPR recommendations related to civic space.