Emirati minister tells UN of further human rights protection

Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, addresses global meeting on legislation introduced to support equality, protect from domestic violence and bolster workers' rights

Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, addressed a UN working group on the UAE's progress on human rights. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, has told UN representatives of the significant strides being made by the UAE to protect human rights.

The Emirati minister addressed members of a UN working group set up to review progress on human rights issues by countries across the globe.

The UAE is one of 14 nations submitting national reports during the 43rd session of the UN Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights Working Group, in session until May 12 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UAE's report highlights the introduction of key legislation to deliver equal pay between the sexes, boost protection from domestic violence, enhance workers' rights, combat human trafficking and enact new laws for non-Muslim expatriates covering family matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody.

It is the fourth time the UAE's human rights record has been reviewed by the global body, after previous assessments in 2008, 2013 and 2018.

All 193 UN member states take part in the process, which allows for countries to set out the measures they have taken to strengthen human rights.

Ms Al Mazrui said the well-being of the UAE's multicultural society drawn from more than 200 nations was its top priority.

"The UAE considers its fourth national report to be a continuation of the action plan it launched since the adoption of its third report [in 2018]," she said.

"The period from mid-2018 to the end of 2022 bore positive and significant developments in the field of promotion and protection of human rights in the UAE."

She told how the UAE had introduced 68 new laws from 2019 to 2022 aimed at promoting human rights.

She highlighted the establishment of the National Human Rights Institution in 2021 to guide the country's vision to bring all sections of society together.

The UAE has introduced a series of policies and strategies with this aim in mind, supporting goals to empower women, support the elderly and the disabled, and promote the family unit.

The Emirates is also playing a pivotal role in the global fight against climate change as it prepares to stage the Cop28 climate summit at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12.

Enhancing women's rights

The UAE's report charts the country's mission to bring about equality in all walks of life, noting that women account for one third of the UAE Cabinet and make up half of the Federal National Council.

The report states that women hold important positions in a variety of sectors, from education and business to space, technology and climate change, and comprise 46.6 per cent of the total workforce, occupying 66 per cent of public sector jobs.

The UAE ranks first in the world in 30 indicators of women's global competitiveness for 2022 and this year, the report adds.

Supporting children

The report explains the measures the UAE has taken to protect children and provide them with adequate care.

It highlights the introduction of sweeping child protection legislation, known as Wadeema's Law, which was approved in 2016.

It lays out the legal rights of children, defined as anyone aged under 18, in the country and protects them from all types of abuse, be it physical, verbal or psychological.

The law prompted the establishment of child protection units in a number of ministries and local authorities.

Helping the elderly and disabled

The report outlines the UAE's strategies to support people with disabilities, including the development of the National Centre for Diagnosis and Assessment to identify disabilities and maintain a comprehensive database on these cases.

In 2019, the UAE also issued a policy to protect people with disabilities and a law setting out the rights of senior Emiratis, which guaranteed 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 outlines the UAE's commitment to upholding workers' rights and recognising their contribution to the nation's development.

The country has introduced a number of laws aimed at improving quality of life for its workforce, covering healthcare, as well as maternity leave, sick leave and both partial and full disability coverage.

The Unemployment Insurance Scheme was introduced to provide a vital safety net for private sector workers who lose their jobs.

Human trafficking

The report affirms that the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking continues to steer a nationwide strategy based on prevention and punishment, protection of victims and the promotion of international co-operation.

Updated: May 08, 2023, 9:31 PM