Debevoise Successfully Represents Qatar in an Unprecedented Win in the First Inter-State Human Rights Complaint Proceeding

4 September 2019

CERD Committee makes a historic decision to constitute ad hoc Conciliation Commissions to consider Qatar’s complaints against the UAE and Saudi Arabia

On 2 September 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (“CERD Committee”) issued its decisions on its jurisdiction and the admissibility of two inter-State communications submitted to it by the State of Qatar (“Qatar”). Those communications, the first of their kind, allege that the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (“KSA”) are in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”) by their continued enforcement of discriminatory measures, first imposed in June 2017, that target Qataris on the basis of their national origin.

Rejecting the objections from the UAE and KSA, the Committee found that Qatar’s communications are within the scope of the Convention, and their merits can therefore proceed to be considered by ad hoc Conciliation Commissions. 

Having deemed Qatar’s communications admissible, the Committee has requested that its Chairperson appoint the members of the Conciliation Commissions. Under the CERD, the members are to be appointed with the unanimous consent of the parties to the dispute; failing that outcome, they will be elected by secret ballot, by a two-thirds majority vote of the Committee from among its own members.

Debevoise partner Catherine Amirfar, who leads the representation of Qatar, states, “The CERD Committee has just made history with its decisions. Its move to constitute inter-State conciliations are the first to be initiated under the CERD—and are the first inter-State complaint proceedings to be brought under an international human rights treaty.”

The Debevoise team representing Qatar before the CERD Committee is led by partners Catherine Amirfar and Donald Donovan, counsel Floriane Lavaud, and associates Merryl Lawry-White, Yasmin Mansour, Julianne Marley, Jessica Polebaum, Ashika Singh and Rhianna Hoover.

The full text of the Committee’s decisions can be found here.

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