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18 May 2024

UAE submits fourth national report under UN Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights


On Monday, 8th May 2023, the UAE and 13 other countries will submit their national reports to the 43rd session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights Working Group.

The UAE’s report will outline the significant progress it has made in the human rights field and highlight new laws and regulations to protect human rights.

Shamma bint Suhail Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, is heading the UAE delegation, which includes a number of representatives from the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), federal and local government agencies, and civil society institutions.

Al Mazrui will address the UN Human Rights Council, presenting the UAE's human rights achievements and reiterating the UAE's determination to continue building upon its progress and contributing to global best practices.

This is the fourth time the UAE’s human rights record is reviewed under the UPR process after the Working Group conducted the first, second, and third UPR processes in December 2008, January 2013, and January 2018, respectively.

All 193 United Nations member states participate in this mechanism, which provides an opportunity for states to publicise the measures they have taken to strengthen human rights and overcome challenges in this regard.

The UAE delegation will highlight the progress made by the UAE since the third periodic review in 2018, as well as its key achievements as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the 2022-2024 term, during which the UAE is working to advance international efforts to improve human rights worldwide.

The UAE’s report and Al Mazrui's speech will shed light on the country’s policies and strategies to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the country’s enactment of laws that support human rights in a society characterised by tolerance, coexistence, and social and religious harmony.

The report shows that following the last periodic review, many advances took place in the UAE to further enshrine human rights as part of the country’s broader development.

These include the adoption of federal legislation concerning equal pay for both sexes, protection against domestic violence, public health, civil proceedings, juvenile offenders and persons at risk of committing crimes, persons of unknown origin, penal procedures, labour relations and protections for service workers, and personal status laws for non-Muslims.

In addition, the UAE has made important and comprehensive changes to laws on combating discrimination and hatred, criminal offenses and penalties, and commercial issues.

Moreover, the UAE adopted over 68 laws from 2019 to 2022 to bolster the country’s legal framework, legal guarantees, and institutional structures to protect human rights and elevate social justice. This is in addition to the establishment of the National Human Rights Committee, which is overseeing the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan in partnership with civil society bodies.

The delegation will also highlight the progress made by the UAE in implementing recommendations issued by the UN following the last UPR in 2018, including on legislative and institutional improvements; economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights; group rights; and religious freedom. Since then, key laws, policies, and strategies have been adopted, including the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, the National Policy for Senior Emiratis, the National Policy to Empower People of Determination, the Gender Balance Council Strategy 2026, the National Family Policy and the Family Protection Policy, the National Food Security Strategy 2051, the National Youth Strategy, post-COVID-19 recovery plan, and the UAE Centennial 2071. Furthermore, the Witness Protection Law, the Personal Status Law, the Criminal Code and UAE Criminal Procedural Law, and major legislative amendments to combat discrimination and hatred were adopted.
The UAE will also outline its efforts to support global climate action by hosting the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Expo City Dubai in November 2023. COP28 will focus on implementing climate change commitments and pledges, collaborating on concrete action, and finding solutions to address challenges and leverage opportunities to ensure a sustainable future for coming generations.

Women’s rights

On women’s empowerment, the UAE’s report highlights efforts to further modernise strategies in this field based on its belief that women’s rights are fundamental to social development.

The report notes that women constitute one-third of the country’s ministers and account for 50% of the members of the Federal National Council. Women also hold important positions in education, business, entrepreneurship, technology, space, climate change mitigation, and environmental protection, with the UAE ranking first in the world in 30 indicators of women's global competitiveness for 2022 and 2023. In terms of gender balance in government institutions, women represent 46.6% of the total workforce and occupy 66% of public sector jobs, including 30% of decision-making positions and 15% of technical and academic positions.

Children’s rights

The report explains the measures the UAE has taken to protect children and provide them with adequate care, having enacted legislation to uphold children’s rights. In this regard, the report mentions Wadeema’s Law, which ensures the protection of children, the exercise of their rights, and respect for their privacy. The law also led to the establishment of child protection units in a number of ministries and local authorities.

Rights of people with disabilities and senior citizens

The report outlines the UAE's efforts to promote the rights of those with disabilities (people of determination), as the National Center for Diagnosis and Assessment was established to identify disabilities and maintain a comprehensive database on these cases.

In 2019, the UAE also issued a policy to protect people of determination. That year, the UAE Government passed the Law on the Rights of Senior Emiratis, which guarantees them protection from violence, abuse, and neglect, as well as the right to a decent environment, housing, education, employment, and social benefits.

Workers’ rights

The report stresses the UAE’s commitment to upholding workers’ rights and recognising their contributions to the nation’s development. The UAE has implemented a wide range of legislative and regulatory reforms and provides numerous services to uphold workers' rights, including through the enactment of Federal Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations, which led to structural change in the UAE labour market.

The law allows for the movement of workers between jobs, and the UAE guarantees workers’ healthcare, as well as maternity leave, sick leave, and both partial and full disability coverage. Moreover, the Unemployment Insurance Scheme was introduced to provide insurance coverage to private sector workers in the event of unemployment.

Human trafficking

Regarding the fight against human trafficking, the report affirms that the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) continues to implement the national strategy based on five pillars: prevention, prosecution, punishment, protection of victims, and promotion of international cooperation.