Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF


Monday, 28 January 2013 (afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record.  The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed.  An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

United Arab Emirates
Represented by 43-member delegation headed by Dr. Anwar Mohammad Gargasch, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.


To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the United Arab Emirates page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Ethiopia, Thailand, Germany.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the United Arab Emirates page on UPR Extranet )

  • Since the first UPR, the UAE has comprehensively reviewed its Constitution and laws in order to implement systems that effectively protected human rights;
  • The UAE Constitution was amended in 2009 and the Federal National Council was expanded to include a role in debating international treaties and international conventions;
  • The Government took several measures to strengthen the rights of workers and the amendment of the legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities;
  • The Government also acceded to various international instruments, including the CEDAW, the ICERD, the CRC, the CRPD, plus its OP and the CAT;
  • The State also received the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Special Rapporteur on racism and racial discrimination, and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons; in the latter half of this year the UAE would host the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights;
  • The UAE also entered into a series of memoranda of understanding with major labour-exporting countries designed to facilitate efforts to protect workers from exploitation; a new wage protection system was also introduced in 2009;
  • The Government recently approved a new law to protect domestic workers, which particularly benefited women;
  • Women now occupied 30 per cent of higher leadership and decision-making positions in the UAE; in December 2012 the UAE Cabinet made it compulsory for corporations and government agencies to include women on their boards of directors; women occupied two-thirds of the jobs in federal government and there were four women ministers in the Government;
  • The UAE was the first country in the Arab region to enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and remarkable progress has been made between 2007 and 2012 on the UAE’s four-part anti-trafficking system; the National Committee on Countering Human Trafficking organized a series of training courses and workshops and media campaigns to enhance public awareness have been expanded;
  • Both the UAE Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice held seminars and training for law enforcement officers to ensure that human rights and the rule of law were protected when counter-terrorism measures were taken;
  • In terms of economic and social rights, the Government undertook a series of initiatives towards the development of housing, water and electricity utilities, roads and bridges, and hospitals and health care centres in remote areas; according to the UN Human Development Index, the UAE had the highest level of human development in the Arab world;
  • The UAE has worked to maintain its stability and security and to prevent extremism from gaining a foothold;


In total 88 States participated in the dialogue:  34 HRC members and 54 observers  (Statements available on the United Arab Emirates page on UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Steps to protect women’s rights and the National Strategy for the advancement of women;
  • Efforts to uphold the rights of children, including the Virtual Global Task Force;
  • The high ranking of the UAE in the Human Development Index;
  • Accession to international human rights instruments and invitations to Special Procedures;
  • Steps taken to combat human trafficking;
  • The creation of human rights departments within Government offices.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Measures taken to uphold the rights of migrant workers;  
  • Steps towards formally abolishing the death penalty;
  • Efforts to combat all forms of discrimination against women;
  • Action taken to protect human rights defenders and journalists from discrimination, harassment or intimidation;
  • Measures to ensure the full protection of the rights of freedom of expression;
  • Steps to conduct prompt and impartial investigations of allegations of torture.


States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to United Arab Emirates.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To uphold the rights of migrant workers and to ensure employees complied with international human rights standards; to ensure labour laws were strongly enforced to improve the living and working conditions of migrant workers; 
  • To establish a moratorium on the death penalty; to take measures to explicitly ban corporal punishment;
  • To conduct prompt and impartial investigations of all allegations of torture and prosecute those responsible for such acts; to withdraw the unilateral declaration which limited the scope of the definition of torture under the CAT;
  • To adopt specific legislation on racism, racial discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance;
  • To eliminate all forms of discrimination that may persist with regards to women;
  • To continue strengthening protective measures and legal rights for women and children, including by giving women equal status to men in matters of divorce, inheritance and child custody; to introduce legislation to prohibit the right of men to physically punish their wives;
  • To take steps to protect human rights defenders, journalists and religious minorities from discrimination, harassment or intimidation, including arbitrary deprivation of nationality;
  • To ensure the full protection of the rights of freedom of expression; to amending the penal code to remove all criminal penalties for alleged libel cases;
  • To review restrictive articles of recent Cybercrime law to ensure the law did not prevent free speech and expression; to consider updating the 1980 media law;
  • To adjust existing legislation governing NGOs to being them in conformity with international human rights standards; to allow individuals the rights to associate freely;
  • The create a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: ICCPR and its OPs, the ICESCR, the OPCAT, the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, ILO Convention 189 (migrant workers), ILO Convention 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining, the Convention on the Status of Refugees, Convention on statelessness, and the Convention on enforced disappearances.  

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on United Arab Emirates is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 31 January 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org.