UAE caused 'maximum suffering' for Qataris, UN court hears

AFP , Wednesday 2 Sep 2020

Qatar on Wednesday accused the United Arab Emirates at the UN's top court of inflicting "maximum suffering" on Qataris as part of the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

Doha alleges that measures taken by Abu Dhabi after several Middle Eastern states severed ties with Qatar in 2017 breached a UN treaty against racial discrimination.

The two energy-rich states are arguing this week before the International Court of Justice in The Hague about whether the tribunal has the jurisdiction to deal with the case.

"The UAE seeks to avoid the jurisdiction of this court because it seeks to avoid the truth," Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, representing Qatar, told the court.

"This dispute is about the UAE's punitive discriminatory measures, which are intended to bend the state of Qatar to the UAE's political will by inflicting maximum suffering on the Qatari people."

"The UAE's actions go to the very core of the evil the convention was designed to eradicate," said Al-Khulaifi.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt and several other allies cut relations with Qatar after accusing it of backing terrorism and siding with their regional rival Iran.

They imposed an effective blockade by land, air and sea and the alliance has issued a raft of terms Qatar must accept before it will lift the embargo.

Qatar dragged the UAE to the ICJ a year later seeking to get the measures lifted.

The United Arab Emirates accused Qatar on Monday of backing "terrorism and extremism" as the three-year-old Gulf diplomatic crisis returned to the UN's top court.

The allies faced a "grave threat brought by Qatar's support for terrorism and extremism," Abdallah al-Naqbi, director of the international law department at the UAE foreign ministry, told the court via videolink.

"This has nothing to do with racial discrimination."

The ICJ, set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between UN member states, is expected to decide in coming months whether the case can go ahead.

The rest of the hearings about this case -- which are all taking place by videolink due to the coronavirus pandemic -- due on Friday and Monday.

A final judgement could however take years, and while the ICJ's rulings are final, it has no means of enforcing them.

The court issues binding judgments but has no means of enforcing them.

The case has gone Qatar's way so far, with the ICJ in 2018 ordering the UAE to take emergency measures to protect the rights of Qatari citizens.

Doha has also won a separate but related case at the ICJ in July that is specifically about the air blockade.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online

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