International Court of Justice Rejects UAE’s Request for Provisional Measures Against Qatar

14 June 2019

The International Court of Justice (“ICJ” or “Court”) today issued an order rejecting the request of the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) for provisional measures against the State of Qatar in a case relating to the UAE’s unlawful discriminatory treatment of Qatar and the Qatari people.

Background to the Case

On 11 June 2018, Qatar filed its Application instituting proceedings against the UAE before the ICJ pursuant to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD” or “Convention”), to which Qatar and the UAE are Parties.  The same day, Qatar also requested that the Court, as a matter of urgency, indicate provisional measures protecting Qatar and the Qatari people from racial discrimination while ICJ proceedings are ongoing.  The Convention was adopted on 21 December 1965 and entered into force on 4 January 1969.  The State of Qatar acceded to the Convention on 22 July 1976. It is the oldest United Nations human rights treaty and sets forth an overarching goal: the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.

Qatar’s Application arises from the discriminatory measures imposed in June 2017 by the UAE as part of an unlawful imposition of land, sea and air restrictions against Qatar as part of a campaign of political and economic coercion. Qatar initiated proceedings before the ICJ as the best means to resolve peaceably the  that human rights violations arising from the UAE’s discrimination against Qatar and Qatari people by taking the dispute to the principal judicial organ of the United Nations pursuant to Article 22 of the Convention.

Following hearings on the Qatar’s request for the indication of provisional measures, the Court delivered its order on 23 July 2018 to protect Qataris, in a win before the Court that vindicated Qatar’s rights. The provisional measures in favor of Qatar were unprecedented in their scope and specificity, focusing on family reunification, the right to education and access to justice.

The UAE’s Ill-founded Request

On 22 March 2019, the UAE filled a request for the indication of provisional measures allegedly in order to preserve its so-called “procedural” rights pending the final decision of the Court on the merits of the case, on the allegation that Qatar has “aggravated” the dispute before the Court.

Public hearings took place on 7, 8 and 9 May 2019.  During the hearings, Qatar demonstrated that the measures requested by the UAE were inconsistent, incoherent, and unjustified.  Qatar argued that in seeking provisional measures based in part on the false assertion that Qatar has aggravated this dispute, the UAE failed to demonstrate that the rights for which the UAE was requesting protection were plausible, that they were linked to the requested measures, and that the UAE had evidenced the urgency and imminence of irreparable harm to its rights in issue in this case so as to provide a basis on which the Court might have indicated such measures.

On 14 June 2019, the Court delivered its judgment and firmly rejected the UAE’s request. 

Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, Legal Advisor to HE Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Agent of Qatar in the ICJ, stated that “Qatar welcomes the Court’s strong acknowledgment of the lack of legal and factual basis for the request made by the UAE for the indication of provisional measures in its rejection ofUAE’s groundless request. Qatar brought this case to protect the Qatari people against the UAE’s policy and practice of racial discrimination.   It is the Qatari people who are the victims here, and not the government of the UAE”.