Qatar Takes UAE To UN’s Highest Court Over Blockade

According to the Atlantic, tensions began in 2014 when Qatar’s neighbours pulled out their diplomats citing concerns about Qatar funding terrorism. The blockade wholly began early summer in 2017. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Yemen severed their ties with Qatar initially because of its alleged support of terrorism. While Qatar had responded that there was no “legitimate justification” for this blockade, the aforementioned countries cited Qatar’s close relationship with Iran. According to the Miami Herald, Qatar and Iran share a massive offshore gas field that is the source of Qatari wealth. Qatar also has full diplomatic ties to Iran. The reason for the blockade was to pressure Doha into limiting its diplomatic ties with Iran, shutting down state-funded Al-Jazeera, and severing its ties to all “terrorist organizations” including Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The reason that the UAE is the only country that has had complaints lodged against it is that all the other blockading countries have not submitted to the United Nations International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction. Though that is not to say that other countries have had less impact on Qatar as a result of this blockade. Saudi Arabia had withdrawn its ambassador to Doha from 2002-2008. The blockade entailed Saudi Arabia’s land border to be closed which has had severe economic impacts. While it is true that Qatar is energy-rich, nevertheless it imports food and other essentials in by trucks from the Saudi Arabian border. Following the blockade, Qatar’s stock market fell 7.2 percent and there was a recorded panic buying of goods.

Now, Doha is taking the UAE to the International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest judicial organ for provisional measures citing discrimination of Qataris expressly on their national origin. In its case to the UN, Qatar claims that the UAE should immediately, “comply with its obligations under the CERD” and restore the human rights of Qataris and that the UAE make reparations but they didn’t provide any details. CERD is the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. According to Al Jazeera, a Qatari news organ, the UAE participated in a full-scale online media campaign against Qatar. But the process of the ICJ is slow and even provisional measures will take months to process. The submission of this provision will most likely result in a period of mediation but since other forms of diplomacy have failed it is unlikely that the UAE would engage in a peace process. To further illustrate the animosity between the two nations, according to the Gulf News, The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash has dismissed this filing as a stunt and said that Doha has ‘lied’ previously as well.

The International Court of Justice is based in Hauge. Despite the UAE’s dismissal, its rulings are final and binding on all nations involved. According to Monica Narang’s article, “ICJ & Peaceful Settlement of Disputes,” in the Journal of Asia Pacific Studies; in reaching a decision, the court applies general principles, treaties, and judgement of experts in international law. Through interpreting and applying the existing international laws, the ICJ has delivered judgement on disputes concerning a plethora of issues. According to the Atlantic, Qatar is home to the largest US military base in the Middle East, the Al Udeid Airbase, where 11,000 US personnel are stationed and is used as a base to stage attacks against ISIS. With Qatar isolated, it may have an impact in how the United States approaches the region and exponential increase of complications for US alliances in the Middle East.