Middle East

UN expert welcomes Saudi Arabia’s lifting of Qatar sanctions

UN Special Rapporteur urges United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to follow kingdom’s decision

Peter Kenny   | 08.01.2021
UN expert welcomes Saudi Arabia’s lifting of Qatar sanctions

GENEVA 

The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights on Thursday welcomed Saudi Arabia's withdrawal of more than three years of sanctions against Qatar as a "positive first step."

Alena Douhan urged the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to follow suit after the sanctions had divided Gulf nations.

"I am encouraged by the recent decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to open land, sea and airspace borders with Qatar and invite Qatar's Emir to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia," said Douhan.

He said the invitation apparently could not have happened without the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt's support.

"I also commend Kuwaiti and the United States mediation efforts."

The Supreme Council of the GCC held its 41st session of the Heads of States summit on Jan. 5 and issued the Al-Ula Declaration promoting coordination and integration among the GCC countries.

"I welcome the ongoing constructive engagement between Qatar and the four States and hope that there will be other positive steps soon," the UN expert said.

The four countries imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and being too close to Iran.

They closed their land borders, air and seaports and airspace to Qataris.

Douhan said the sanctions had harmed Qataris' fundamental rights and freedoms connected to family life, education, work, health, private property, religion, expression and access to justice.

The measures also affected Qatari students studying abroad and Muslims wanting to make the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia.

The UN expert asked the four Gulf states to ensure meaningful reparation to the victims of human rights violations caused by the sanctions, including couples in mixed marriages and their children and migrant workers who lost their jobs and benefits.

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