Abu Dhabi: The UAE was disappointed by the US State Department's 2012 Report on Human Rights Practices in the UAE, published on April 19. The report provides an unbalanced picture of the human rights situation in the UAE and fails to give adequate recognition to the significant progress that has been made to promote and protect human rights in the country.
The UAE is rated by the UN as having a very high level of human development; it is a tolerant, multicultural society in which people with many different nationalities worship freely in churches, temples and mosques; UN indicators show that it has a high level of gender equality; and it provides citizens and residents with access to education and healthcare.
By focusing on specific instances of alleged violations of human rights and what the State Department considers to be the remaining human rights challenges facing the UAE, the report fails to adequately reflect this overall progressive context.
In addition, the report does not mention some of the important steps that the UAE took in 2012 to further the protection of human rights. For example, when discussing torture, the report makes no mention of the fact that the UAE acceded to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in July 2012.
When discussing discrimination against women, it makes no mention of the fact that in December 2012 the UAE's Cabinet made it compulsory for corporations and government agencies to include women on their boards of directors, or of the prominent role of women in UAE politics, including four female Ministers in the Federal Cabinet.
The UAE faces many challenges on human rights issues, like other countries, and is highly committed to an ongoing process of improvement in this regard. The UAE government takes concerns of any possible violation of human rights very seriously and is constantly working on strengthening its capacity to respond to these. It will continue to take this proactive approach, in a way that is consistent with its constitution, laws and traditions.
The UAE has also shown itself to be very open to engaging in constructive dialogue with other countries on human rights issues. In January 2013, the UAE participated actively and in an open and transparent fashion in its Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council and will soon respond officially to the recommendations made by 88 countries.
The UAE notes its preference for conducting dialogue on important human rights issues through this kind of legitimate, transparent, multilateral forum, as well as the ongoing discussions that take place between governments.