The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights at home and around the world. The foreign policy of the UAE is based on the principles of justice, equality, and human rights. The UAE is determined to make a positive difference at the global level by working constructively to support the implementation of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Domestically, the UAE places a high priority on respect for human rights in accordance with international human rights standards, and is committed to the continual improvement of its own laws and practices, based upon the country's cultural heritage and religious values, which enshrine justice, equality and tolerance.
Since its founding in 1971, the UAE has built a tolerant, multicultural society in which people from all over the world live harmoniously together. The UAE Constitution outlines the freedoms and rights of all citizens, prohibits torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and protects civil liberties, including freedom of speech and press, peaceful assembly and association, and the practice of religious beliefs. Significant investments have been made in education, healthcare, housing and sustainable economic development.
The UAE is a party to the following international human rights treaties (year of ratification or accession):
- International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (1974)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1997)
- Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2004)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (2010)
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) (2012)
The UAE has signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (OP-CRPD) (2008).
In addition, the UAE is party to:
- The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
- The Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Two Additional Protocols of 1977
- Nine ILO Conventions, including on the subjects of working hours, forced labour, labour inspections, night work for women, equal pay, the minimum age for employment and the worst forms of child labour
- The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent Suppress and Punish Trafficking in persons, Especially Women and Children (The Palermo Protocol)
- The Arab Charter of Human Rights
The UAE is a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
More information regarding the UAE and the UN human rights treaty bodies, including the UAE's periodic reports and the concluding observations of the treaty bodies, may be found at:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/AEIndex.aspx]
Protecting children is at the top of the national agenda. The UAE is committed to providing a safe environment that allows the full development of children's abilities and talents and to taking appropriate steps in the health and education fields to care for the psychological, social, and cultural needs of children in accordance with its national strategy, based on the best interests of the child.
The UAE is implementing a range of initiatives to protect the rights of the child. The Ministry of Interior established the Higher Committee for Child Protection in 2009 and the Child Protection Center in 2011, which recently launched an awareness campaign dubbed "Together to Prevent Child Abuse" to raise community awareness and educate parents and teachers about various forms of child abuse and ways to prevent it through seminars, courses, and a media campaign.
The UAE is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The UAE ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 19 March 2010 and submitted its first periodic report to the CRPD on 24 January 2013.
Policies for the empowerment and effective inclusion of persons with disabilities are now an integral part of key national and local strategies such as the UAE Vision 2021; Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and Dubai Strategic Plan 2021.
The UAE Cabinet has recently approved the preparation of a Comprehensive National Plan for persons with disabilities in order to further enhance inclusion of their rights in the National Development Agenda.
The Ministry of Education has taken steps to implement a school integration project. The UAE also provides children and adults with disabilities with the training required for their integration into society.
Among other initiatives focused on enabling and empowering people with disabilities, the UAE has hosted the annual international conference "ACCESS Abu Dhabi" since 2006. Experts and practitioners from around the world join to share their best practices in the field of care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.
The UAE is committed to women's human rights: The empowerment of women is fundamental for our development as a modern and progressive society. Women participate on an equal basis in every facet of civic, economic and political life in the UAE.
Our commitment starts at the top and is integrated in our national strategic plan. Women's equality is part of the UAE's
Vision 2021 National Agenda, which aims at protecting women from all forms of discrimination at work and in society and will continue to help Emirati women achieve ever-greater empowerment in all spheres.
National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE for 2015- 2021 was launched by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), on March 8 2015, International Women's Day. The strategy provides a framework for government, private sector and civil society organizations to establish work plans to position the UAE among the most advanced countries in the area of women's empowerment.
The UAE has implemented a number of initiatives to strengthen the economic empowerment of women in the UAE. In December 2012, the Government issued a
decision on the mandatory membership of UAE women in the Boards of Directors of federal bodies, companies and institutions. In May 2015, the Government adopted a decision to establish the
UAE Gender Balance Council to ensure that Emirati women continue to play a leading role in the development of the UAE. The Council is carrying out several functions, including reviewing legislation, policies and programs to achieve gender balance in the workplace.
On 28 August 2015, the 40th anniversary of the launch of the General Women's Union, the UAE held its first
Emirati Women's Day, a national celebration of the role women play.
The number of women dying during pregnancy or child birth as well as the infant mortality rate in the UAE has halved in the past 25 years. The UAE has the lowest rate of maternal deaths in the region and one of the lowest in the world, according to the World Health Statistics 2015 report. The maternal mortality rate in the UAE is now eight in every 100,000 live births, down from 16 in 1990. Infant mortality has dropped from 14 per 1,000 live births in the UAE in 1990 to seven for each 1,000 births in 2013, and under-5 mortality rate more than halved from 17 for each 1,000 live births in 1990 to eight for each 1,000 in 2013.
Key to the economic empowerment of women is equality in education. According to the World Economic Forum's 2014 Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE has essentially reached equality between men and women in educational attainment. 95% of female high school graduates go on to pursue higher education (compared with 80% of the male students). Women constitute 70% of college graduates in the country.
We are also working to expand the participation of women in the workforce. Women occupy 66% of public sector jobs - one of the highest proportions worldwide, including 30% of senior leadership positions associated with decision-making roles. Women occupy 75% of positions in the education and health sectors.
Women in the UAE participate actively in the private sector, including as entrepreneurs and managers. Twenty-one thousand women are employers. Female business owners account for ten per cent of the total private sector in the Emirates. They run projects worth more than USD 10 billion. Female business owners constitute 15 per cent of the members of the boards of directors of the chambers of commerce and industry in the State.
In the elections for the Federal National Council held on 3 October 2015, there were 78 women candidates (23.6% of the total). There are eight women members of the Federal National Council, 20% of the total.
Eight women were appointed to serve in the new Federal Cabinet announced on 10 February 2016 (constituting 27.5% of the total), including in key portfolios for promoting the empowerment of women both nationally and internationally such as international cooperation, social development, public education and youth.
The continual improvement of the protection of the rights of workers is a national priority. The UAE's status as an attractive place of work for people from around the world has made it a major recipient of foreign labour, which is of benefit to the workers, the sending countries, and the UAE. According to the World Bank, foreign workers in the UAE sent home more than 29 billion US dollars in 2014 – almost all of which went to developing countries - making the UAE the third biggest source of remittances in the world. This is income that benefits the workers' families and home country economies.
The UAE has ratified nine major ILO conventions related to the rights of workers, and has adopted numerous laws to protect workers' rights, including in the areas of recruitment, pay, housing and health.
Charging recruitment fees to prospective employees is illegal in the UAE, and steps have been taken to protect workers from unscrupulous recruiters. The confiscation of workers' passports is prohibited, and workers do not require their employer's permission to leave the country. All workers must be provided with comprehensive health insurance at the cost of the employer and there are strict rules regarding the provision of proper accommodation. More than 3.2 million workers are paid through the Wage Protection System.
A 24-hour toll-free hotline allows workers to file complaints. The UAE has established offices in courts to provide legal support to workers in labour disputes and labour care units have been established across the UAE to provide protection for workers and raise awareness of their rights.
Enforcement of protections for workers has been intensified and substantial penalties have been imposed for violations relating to working conditions and workers' rights.
The UAE has also signed numerous Memoranda of Understanding with workers' home countries designed to promote cooperation in protecting the rights of workers in the UAE.
The UAE is continuously working to strengthen protections for workers. New labour reforms took effect in the UAE on 1 January 2016 that place the country at the forefront of efforts in the region to strengthen protections for workers. The UAE Ministry of Labour of the UAE issued three Ministerial Decrees in 2015 (764, 765 and 766) that are intended to guarantee that relations between workers and employers are entered into voluntarily and freely and governed only by Government-monitored work contracts and the labour law. The new reforms focus on improving transparency of job terms and employment contracts, spell out how contracts can be terminated, and make it easier for workers to switch employers. Under the new policies, prospective workers will be asked to sign a standard employment offer in their home country that will in turn be filed with the Ministry of Labour before a work permit is issued. That agreement will then be registered as a legal contract once the worker arrives in the country, and no changes will be allowed unless they extend additional benefits to which the worker agrees. Either side will be able to terminate the contract, after which the worker will be free to switch to a new employer.
The UAE has implemented a number of measures to provide protection and assistance specifically to domestic workers including:
- A standard form contract has been established to regulate the relationship between domestic workers and their employers. The contract specifies the rights and obligations of each party, including salary, working conditions, vacation, health care, and the duration of the contract. The contract is available via the electronic services system (E-service).
- The employer bears all expenses related to sourcing domestic workers, travel costs to the UAE, accommodation, meals and health insurance.
- A system has been established to provide flexibility for domestic workers to change employers.
- A number of awareness-raising initiatives have been implemented to inform domestic workers of their rights.
- Workers can make complaints through a toll-free hotline (8005005). The Ministry of Interior has established eight centres to address complaints from domestic workers and provide 24-hour support and assistance.
- Protection, care, and shelter are provided for domestic workers who are victims of violence or abuse by the Ministry of Interior's social support centres.
- The Ministry of Interior works with governmental and non-governmental institutions, including embassies and consulates of countries of origin, in order to find the best solutions to the problems of domestic workers.
- The Ministry of Interior also works with recruitment agencies to raise awareness of employers of the rights of domestic workers.
- Specialized units have also been established in the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs to receive complaints from domestic workers and to assist in resolving disputes between the parties to the relationship.
The UAE is a leading player in the global campaign against human trafficking. The UAE was the first country in the region to enact a comprehensive anti-human trafficking law, with Federal Law 51 in 2006. In 2013, the law was amended in conformity with the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), which the UAE ratified in 2009. The law was further amended in February 2015 to strengthen support for victims and protection for witnesses.
The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) was established by Cabinet decision in 2007 in order to coordinate efforts to ensure effective enforcement of Federal Law 51. The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking has implemented a 5 P's strategy to fight the menace of trafficking comprising Prevention, Prosecution, Punishment, Protection and Promotion of International Cooperation. The Committee produces an annual report on combatting human trafficking in the UAE, which may be found on the Committee's website:
www.nccht.gov.ae. Several shelters provide protection, rehabilitation, and assistance to victims of trafficking.
Since human trafficking most often begins in the home countries of victims, the UAE has signed agreements with several labour-sending countries to prevent trafficking at the roots.
The UAE is also participating in several regional and international efforts to counter human trafficking.
We were pleased to host a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons in April 2013, who recognized the progress achieved by our national campaign.
Cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The UAE supports the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In 2010, the UAE welcomed then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Navi Pillay, who was honoured with a meeting with His Highness the President of the UAE. The High Commissioner commended the UAE's efforts in promoting and protecting human rights. The UAE provides approximately USD 90,000 annually in voluntary contributions to OHCHR's budget. In addition, in 2013, the UAE contributed USD 1.5 million to support the work of OHCHR. The UAE announced a new commitment of USD 1 million to support OHCHR at the Human Rights Council's March 2015 session.
More information on the High Commissioner for Human Rights may be found at:
The UN Human Rights Council
The UAE was elected in 2012 to a three-year term (2013-2015) as a Member of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN's principal human rights body. On 28 October 2015, the UAE was re-elected by the UN General Assembly for a second term as a member of the Human Rights Council for the period 2016-2018. The UAE actively participates in the work of the Council in a spirit of constructive engagement and cooperation to promote respect for human rights around the world.
More information on the Human Rights Council may be found at:
UN Human Rights Special Procedures
As a Member of the UN Human Rights Council, the UAE is particularly committed to cooperate with the Council's Special Procedures and regularly accepts visits by them. The UAE has received several special rapporteurs including the Special Rapporteur on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. We were pleased to host a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons in April 2013, who recognized the progress achieved by our national campaign. In 2014, as part of our on-going efforts to strengthen our judicial system, we welcomed the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.
More information on the Special Procedures may be found at:
The UPR is a cooperative mechanism by which the Human Rights Council reviews the implementation of human rights by every UN Member State on a regular basis (currently every 4 ½ years) through a process of constructive dialogue. The UAE appreciates the opportunity the UPR provides to engage in a constructive dialogue with the international community and generate ideas for further improvement.
In 2010, the UAE established the Standing Committee to follow up the Universal Periodic Review. The Committee is chaired by His Excellency Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and includes a number of federal and local governmental entities and civil society organizations in the UAE. The Committee acts as a permanent forum for the consultative process with civil society in the UAE.
The UAE underwent its first UPR in 2008-2009 and its second UPR in 2013. More than 90% of the accepted recommendations and voluntary pledges from the UAE's first UPR have been implemented. The UAE is in the process of following-up on the one hundred recommendations that it accepted and the additional seven that it partially accepted during its second UPR.
More information on the UPR may be found at:
More information on the UAE's first UPR may be found at:
More information on the UAE's second UPR may be found at:
The UAE is a party to the Arab Charter of Human Rights. In December 2013, the UAE presented its first periodic report to the Arab Human Rights Committee. The UAE is playing a leading role in establishing and promoting efficient human rights mechanisms in the framework of the League of Arab States.
The UAE also supports efforts to promote and protect human rights through the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The UAE is working in partnership with other countries and through the United Nations to help improve respect for the human rights of women and girls everywhere.
The UAE has been elected to serve on the Executive Board of UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, for two terms, from 2013-2015 and 2016-2018.
The UAE has contributed more than USD 12 million to UN Women since 2012. In addition, the UAE will fund the opening of a liaison office for UN Women in Abu Dhabi. The Office will serve to institutionalize and further strengthen partnerships with the UN on women's participation and leadership.
These contributions demonstrate the UAE's recognition of the importance and the value of the leading role played by UN Women in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The UAE supports efforts to achieve equality in the enjoyment of the right to education, which is essential to women's economic empowerment. The UAE is promoting the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl during its membership of the UN Human Rights Council. The UAE initiated a joint statement by 75 countries at the Human Rights Council in June 2014 which condemned attacks on girls because they attend or wish to attend school. The UAE also led in the unanimous adoption by the Council in September 2014 of a resolution to convene a panel discussion at the Council's session in June 2015 to share lessons learned and best practices on realizing the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl.
The UAE believes that empowering women in times of peace as well as conflict is key to building sustainable peace and security in societies. The UAE believes that its efforts to place women front and center of its public policy agenda have been critical for successfully maintaining a moderate and equitable model in its development.
We view the role of women in the mitigation, prevention, and resolution of conflict as central to our national priorities and to those of our region. Accordingly, the UAE decided to place women, peace and security at the forefront of our priorities at the United Nations, stemming from the strong conviction that women are agents of their own progress and equal partners in peace and security efforts.
We support UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and security, which is based on four main pillars: participation, protection, prevention, and relief and recovery. The UAE has been committed to contributing substantially to the Global Study on the implementation of resolution 1325 by hosting a series of panel discussions on Women, Peace and Security in partnership with UN Women and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.
The panels have addressed topics such as the role of women in countering violent extremism; how to best harness modern technologies in peacekeeping operations to improve security for women and girls; an exploration of the women, peace and security agenda within the context of climate change; the importance of taking a transformative approach to transitional justice; and, gender-responsive humanitarian intervention.
The UAE is part of the international effort to end sexual violence in conflict. The Foreign Minister of the UAE, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is a Global Champion of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and the UAE is one of the 155 countries to have signed the "Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.” We are convinced that efforts to address sexual violence in conflict must be part of a comprehensive strategy to empower women to fully participate in all aspects of society.
As the Foreign Minister has said, we must ensure that every girl completes a quality education in a safe and secure environment, has the opportunity to invest her talents in the labour market, and can participate in decision-making in government and the business sector.
The UAE strongly supports the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. In 2013, the UAE committed USD 1.5 million, jointly with the United Kingdom, to support the Government of Somalia’s efforts to combat sexual violence in conflict.
At the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, in London in June 2014, the UAE announced an additional USD 1 million to support the UN in strengthening the capacity of affected countries to address this issue.
The UAE is contributing to international efforts to counter violent extremism and promote religious tolerance globally:
- The UAE co-chairs the Countering Violent Extremism Working Group of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum.
- The UAE hosts the International Center of Excellence against Violent Extremism ("Hedayah") - an independent, multilateral "Think & Do Tank" devoted to training, dialogue, collaboration, and research to counter violent extremism in all of its forms.
- In April 2015, Abu Dhabi hosted the second "Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies", which seeks to promote the message that Islam is a peaceful religion based on values of tolerance and human rights.
- On 19 July 2014, the UAE announced the establishment of the "Muslim Council of Elders," an independent, international body of fourteen Islamic scholars to promote the core tolerant values and practices of our faith.
- The UAE is financing a 20 million US dollar project to train Imams in rural areas of Afghanistan in the true and moderate teachings of Islam.
- The UAE launched the "SAWAB Center" in Abu Dhabi, a joint initiative by the Governments of the United Arab Emirates and the United States, in July 2015 as a digital communications hub to counter Da'esh propaganda and recruitment efforts by giving a voice to the millions of Muslims and others around the world that stand united against terrorism.
- The UAE recently formed a 'Contact Group on Countering Extremism' to develop and disseminate concrete solutions and best practices in countering extremism.
- These initiatives demonstrate the UAE's strong and enduring commitment to a moderate and tolerant society that is deeply rooted in the UAE's history and traditions, where extremism has no place and no future.
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