Domestic Effects of International Human Rights Treaty Ratification in the Member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

UN Building in GenevaWelcome! Here you can learn about research exploring the processes of ratification and domestic effects of human rights treaties in the states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). This initiative is a joint venture between Georgetown University SFS-Q, Koc University, Oxford University, and Qatar University. It is made possible by NPRP grant #5-804-5-123 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation).  The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.


There has been a recent trend in the Gulf Cooperation Council member states to ratify the core United Nations human rights treaties. All GCC states are now parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. All GCC states, except Oman, are parties to the Convention against Torture and all GCC states are parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Kuwait and Bahrain have also ratified the International Bill of Rights. Coupled with this trend are the recent reviews of and lifting of reservations to treaties already ratified.

The domestic processes leading up to ratification, reviewing of reservations and the domestic effects of these treaties on political, judicial and societal levels in the GCC countries have not received adequate scholarly attention. This project aims to address this.


  • Kamrava, Mehran. "The Domestic Effects of International Human Rights Treaty Ratification in the Member States of the Co-operation Council for the Arab States in the Gulf." Doha (Sept, 2014).

Research Objectives

The objectives of the project can be organized under three themes:

A. To survey and better understand the motivations behind ratification of international human rights treaties:

To study the pre-ratification process in order to identify the key players in the ratification process.
To understand the motivations of ratification and the expected results of ratification.
To understand the interactions between the United Nations and the states pre-ratification.
To assess how the reservations to human rights treaties are understood in the domestic context.

[UN Geneva]

B. The study of the effects of international human rights treaty ratification:

To study the effects of international human rights treaty ratification on the processes of formulation and review of public policies and laws and case law in the GCC.
To study the effects of international human rights treaty ratification on the state institutions, and in particular with respect to the development and the workings of the National Human Rights Institutions and human rights specialized bureaucracies.
To study the effects of international human rights treaty ratification on the mobilization opportunities and incentives for the civil society.
To study the effects of international human rights treaty ratification on international co-operation with the United Nations.

C. Synthesis:

To evaluate the channels through which the effects of international human rights treaty ratification is more likely to happen.
To systematically and comparatively organize the types of effects international human rights treaty ratification has in different GCC countries.
To evaluate the broader trends identified in the GCC region within the trends in the rest of the world.

You can download a copy of the complete research plan here.


  • Başak Çali
  • Mehran Kamrava
  • Adeela Tajdar

Progress Updates

Thank you for your interest in our research study. Follow the posts below to keep up to date with our progress and check out an advanced copy of our end of research report for more information. The Arabic version will be up shortly. You may also wish to see our May 2013 report in English or Arabic . If you are on twitter and would like to join the conversation about our research, please use the #humanrightslawGCC. We would love to hear from you!

Note: This research project is made possible by NPRP Grant #5-804-5-123 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

December 2014: Thank You for Being A Part of Our Research Journey

September 2014: Launch of Our End of Research Report

July 2014: Project Team Presents Findings in Oxford

June 2014: Reflections By A Georgetown SFSQ Student

April 2014: Turning International Human Rights Principles into Domestic Norms: Detailing Treaty Body Recommendations

March 2014: Sharing Insights and Inspirations: An Interview with Dr. Başak Cali and Dr. Nazila Ghanea

January 2014: Field Research in Kuwait

December 2013: Ratifications of Human Rights Treaties in the GCC: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Focus

September 2013: Research in Progress: Literature Reviews and Case Law

July 2013: Workshop Report Release

May 2013: Workshops 1+2: Gathering GCC Human Rights Professionals in Qatar

April 2013: Gearing up for our May workshops

March 2013: A Conversation on Women’s Rights in the GCC

February 2013: Fieldwork in Qatar

November 2012: The GCC Human Rights Project Kickstarts



Thank You for Being A Part of Our Research Journey (December 2014)

This month's blog post is written by Adeela Tajdar, Project Manager

On September 14, 2014, our team officially released our public report and shared the findings of our research with UN officials and the diplomatic community, research interviewees and participants from throughout the GCC, GCC human rights advocates, area specialists and academics, and the press in Doha, Qatar. The event began with some introductory words by Dr. Elobaid Elobaid, Head of the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region, continued with our Principal Investigators summarizing key findings, and ended with an engaging Question and Answer session. Our project team also met with GCC human rights officials to discuss our final report and hear their responses from insights gained from working in the field.

If you haven’t already done so, please download a digital form of our report.

Our team also held a workshop at Georgetown University SFSQ, bringing together academics from the Middle East, North America and Europe, who specialize on international law and GCC area studies specialists. Sessions explored women’s rights in the GCC, ICERD ratification in the GCC region, human rights interventions and reforms in particular GCC states, the work of transnational advocacy networks promoting human rights in the region, and the protection of migrants’ rights in the GCC. It is our hope that we will be able to publish a collection of these specialized essays in 2015.

On behalf of our research team, we would like to thank you for your interest in our work and for accompanying us through the project research cycle. The past two years have flown by and despite the challenges that accompany field research of any kind, not only did we learn much about GCC states’ engagement with UN human rights treaties, we also made fond memories and new friends.

If you’re interested in our principal investigators’ next steps and future research activities, please see our About Us page and contact team members Professor Basak Cali and Professor Nazila Ghanea We look forward to connecting with you in the new year!


Launch of Our End of Research Report (September 2014)

This month's blog post is written by Adeela Tajdar, Project Manager

We are pleased to release an advance copy of our end of research report The Domestic Effects of International Human Rights Treaty Ratification in the Member States of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) written by Dr. Başak Çali, our Lead Principal Investigator from Koc University, and Dr. Nazila Ghanea, our Co-Principal Investigator from the University of Oxford. The final report summarizes our key findings and presents our original data set regarding the extent to which UN Treaty body recommendations are impacting the GCC region.

GCC Human Rights Cover


A final print version will be available in late 2014. If you would like to tweet about our research, please use #humanrightslawGCC.


Project Team Presents Findings in Oxford (July 2014)

This month's blog post is written by our research associate, Dr. Benjamin Jones. Ben recently completed his Doctor of Philosophy in socio-legal studies in the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Law.

On 24 July project primary investigators Professors Basak Cali and Nazila Ghanea presented its research at Oxford University’s annual International Human Rights Summer School, hosted in collaboration with George Washington University Law School. The lecture, attended by students and faculty on the summer school, as well as post-graduate students on Oxford’s Master’s in International Human Rights Law programme took attendees through the structure, processes, and findings of the GCC Human Rights project.

Prof Ghanea began the talk by identifying the negative impact that international pessimism around the protection of human rights in the Arab world has had on academic work on IHRL in the region. Explaining the project’s aim of starting to fill the total lacuna around the interaction of human rights treaties and the domestic legal orders of the GCC states, Prof Ghanea identified the various factors in the Gulf (such as the absence of resource constraints, bilateral relationships, governance structures, fundamental nature of Shari’a principles) that made such study particularly interesting and worthwhile.

Oxford Event photo

Photo taken by Dean Susan Karamanian

Profs Cali and Ghanea then introduced the audience to some of the core data gathered by the project team. This began with a concrete overview of state engagement (summarising the state of ratifications and reporting), before considering some of the narrative accounts elicited through the project that can help explain state decision to take positive steps such as ratifying new instruments or narrowing reservations. These narratives were then considered in light of the framework of factors identified during the literature review stage of the project with the most productive drivers of engagement identified, obstacles noted, and avenues for further research discussed.

Following the presentation, project research associate Dr Benjamin Jones joined the panel for a lively Q&A session during which a broad range of questions were fielded regarding issued including other aspects of GCC state engagement with international rights organizations (for instance through ILO Convention ratification or Arab Charter reporting), the activities of domestic rights organizations and rights defenders, and pragmatic issues regarding researching human rights in the region, amongst numerous other topics. Overall the talk was very well received and demonstrated the very significant latent interest in the area and the appetite for future research in the field.


Reflections By A Georgetown SFSQ Student (June 2014)

This month's blog post is written by one of our project’s student research assistants, Sabah Khadri. Sabah is a senior at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar

During my involvement in this research project, I have had to run searches in databases to look for articles relevant to human rights issues and international legal change in the GCC states. This gave me an opportunity to better my understanding of the prevalence of certain human rights issues in the region, the state laws pertaining to these issues, and how international human rights treaty bodies have been involved in addressing these concerns.

By searching popular human rights databases for articles on the GCC, I realized that little literature exists on human rights issues in the GCC. Even when I was successful in finding relevant articles, they would highlight only specific countries and specific issues in those countries and rarely note commonalities with other GCC states. It was surprising to note that certain key issues were barely mentioned or given any importance, and that most articles found in a state search focused on the country’s political systems and economic development.

With my time on the research project, I also had the chance to carry out a search for United Nations documents relating to human rights laws, ratifications and amendments in the GCC countries. During this process, I found it easy to find basic information on the treaties, but difficult to locate some of the official UN documents on the ratifications and amendments themselves per state.

My last major research task involved obtaining data on association laws in the GCC countries, allowing me insight into how legal organizations work in the region and laws that regulate the setting up of organizations and NGOs focused on human rights. It was again a hard task for me to find official documentation, this time in relation to the state’s association laws. I imagine this could be due to the lack of government documents being uploaded online on a regular basis, and if uploaded, being in Arabic without equivalent translated materials.

The research I carried out gave me a better understanding of how organizations and legislature work at both the international and regional level. I have found that there are often gaps in translating laws that are made at the international level into the regional level, and this is well reflected in the lack of documentation and literature of various crucial issues prevalent in the GCC countries. In the process of looking at different human rights laws and regulations that exist with regards to this, it must be acknowledged that culture and religion play an important role in how international laws are adopted and implemented in GCC states. This highlights for me some of the serious challenges that exist to international attention on human rights issues, and I feel that unless these cultural and religious barriers to change are discussed and engaged with, it will be hard to expect that a universal mechanism to deal with human rights issues and violations will be rightfully implemented.


Turning International Human Rights Principles into Domestic Norms: Detailing Treaty Body Recommendations (April 2014)

This month's blog post is written by our research associate, Ben Jones. To learn more about Ben, visit our About the Team page.

A state’s decision to ratify a rights treaty can represent a significant, and highly visible, symbolic commitment to developing human rights protection. It is however the substantive steps that follow such a decision – harmonizing domestic legislation, pursuing appropriate policy initiatives, and developing the domestic institutions and procedural capacities – that demonstrate the practical intention to turn international human rights principles into pervasive domestic norms. This substantive process is, of course, monitored by the various Treaty Bodies whose supervision is triggered by treaty ratifications, and the growth of ratifications by the GCC states has led to a significant volume of Treaty Body recommendations for domestic action. While some of these recommendations result in concrete changes in policy, law, or institutional development, many do not and, prior to this project, there has been no thorough investigation of the responsiveness of the GCC states to UN feedback.

As such one novel element of this project’s work has been the assembly of a database detailing all of the treaty body and special procedures mandate holder recommendations made to each of the GCC states. Each recommendation is coded into one of four categories, depending on the kind of action called for – legislative reform, capacity building, further engagement with international rights systems (such as further treaty ratification), or policy change. The database also notes which recommendations are repeated, or extended, from former reports, and also tracks overlaps between these reports and state recommendations made through the Universal Periodic Review process. As such the database offers a detailed picture of formal external pressure for domestic action on human rights and enables the production of a range of quantitative comparisons between the GCC states.

Proportion of TB Recommendations by Type


Building on this clearer picture the team has been able to engage in a more robust and systematic assessment of state responsiveness to international pressure. Focusing on those recommendations calling for legislative action or further international engagement (where concrete responses are more readily discerned) the database has been supplemented with details of domestic actions, commitments undertaken to pursue action, or refusals to act. This has involved noting both those changes self-reported in subsequent state submissions to the treaty bodies and UPR, and also incorporating information identified through desk research and information provided by our contributing experts. Overall this bank of information is now enabling the project team to provide a novel and detailed analysis of the effectiveness of UN pressure in the GCC and contributes another perspective on the broader issue of the relationship between UN rights treaty ratification and domestic rights development.


Sharing Insights and Inspirations: An Interview with Dr. Başak Cali and Dr. Nazila Ghanea (March 2014)

With our 18-month progress report due to the Qatar National Research Fund in less than two months and spring upon us here in Qatar, we feel time is flying by. For our blog update this month, we thought it might be worthwhile to take a moment to slow down and revisit some of the original motivations behind the project. Read on to learn more about the stories of two of our researchers Dr. Başak Cali and Dr. Nazila Ghanea as they talk with project manager, Adeela Tajdar, to share their insights on the research.

Dr. Başak Cali And Dr. Nazila Ghanea

To begin, could you speak about your academic backgrounds prior to beginning the grant and how you decided to work together on this research project?

Başak: My area of specialisation is international human rights law. I am interested in what international human rights standards are, how they are formed and how they get implemented. Prior to this grant, I was the lead principal investigator of an ESCR-funded research project on the perceptions of the legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights amongst judges, lawyers and politicians in five European countries - the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Bulgaria and Turkey. I remember precisely how the idea of applying for this grant came about. The idea came from Naz whilst I was teaching on the Oxford University human rights summer school. We were having lunch at New College after one of my lectures on that programme.

Naz: I had an excellent international law lecturer during my undergraduate studies and the study of human rights has been with me ever since. I started my doctorate in 1995 and was already examining the impact of the UN on domestic human rights situations at that time. Many years later, many research projects later and after participation in a number of capacities in numerous UN human rights fora, in a way we are just applying those same insights and tools to the subject matter of this project.

Who came up with the original topic of research? How long did it take for you to determine a team, draft a project timeline, and establish some of the parameters on the study?

Naz: QNRF came to the University of Oxford in August 2008 to speak about the launch of the NPRP. Having spent much of my childhood in Qatar, this obviously piqued my interest and I was keen to ‘give back’ through my profession through such an opportunity. However, I was busy with another big AHRC/ESRC grant at the time, so put it to the back of my mind – that is, until a fateful conversation with Basak at New College! Both of us were ‘old timers’ in terms of big research projects, field research and UN human rights matters, so coming up with the idea didn’t take long but pulling the team together and finding them time to dedicate to it took a few months.

Başak: We combined our joint interests when coming up with the topic of research. We both were aware that the GCC countries signed up to a significant number of UN human rights treaties post 1990. We wanted to understand why and with what effect. Setting up the team and the project time line took about half a year or so. We were delighted that Mehran and Georgetown came on board. All the credit for getting the application together for submission must go to Erin at Georgetown.


How did the project plan change during the drafting stages? Was it affected by any current events at the time?


Naz: Initially we thought about giving a particular focus to the CEDAW treaty. However, having noted the dearth of academic material on international human rights law and the region, we decided that an initial topic on the matter needs to take stock of the overall picture of UN treaty ratification.

Başak: Studying domestic effects of human rights treaty ratification is not a new idea. What struck me was the lack of any studies focussing on the GCC countries across all human rights treaty commitments. Whilst we were drafting the study, the GCC states started appearing before the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council. International non-governmental pressure concerning the protection of the rights of non-citizens, in particular, construction workers and domestic workers were amongst the issues heightened.

What inspired both of you to want to take a closer look at human rights treaty ratification and implementation in the region. Why human rights? Why the GCC?

Başak: What motivated me most was the sheer lack of academic attention to the effects of human rights law in the region. The literature on the GCC focusses a lot on security and oil politics and economic development. Human rights literature predominantly focuses on other countries in the MENA region such as Iran or Egypt. Why human rights? This is my main motivating research angle. I am interested in studying human rights processes encompassing both human rights law and politics. I was motivated to learn about a new region. Having done work on Turkey previously, I was also interested in comparing human rights processes in the GCC with countries I am more familiar with.

Some would consider human rights issues in the region to be sensitive topics. How did you anticipate your field interviews would go (in terms of interviewees responding to your questions openly)?

Başak: A key asset of international human rights law is its ability to create a common language. As our research focusses on the implementation of human rights obligations voluntarily accepted by GCC states, I have not viewed or presented these issues as sensitive topics. They are fully legitimate and legal topics to be discussed. Our interviewees agree with us. Talking about human rights law is a more precise matter than talking about human rights more broadly. Presenting the scope of our research - implementation of human rights commitments - accurately led to many successful interviews. Of course, wonderful introductions from the UN in Doha and the snowballing of contacts also helped greatly in building trust with our interviewees.

Naz: In a way, human rights issues are not sensitive at all. The states concerned have freely and willingly ratified legal obligations in this field that they – like other states- are constantly speaking to and accountable to in international fora. Human rights law has become part and parcel of our common humanity. We are carrying out academic research in just the same way we have carried it out throughout Europe, in Malaysia, Turkey and elsewhere. We are posing legal questions which are made available to interviewees in advance of them choosing whether to meet with us. We’ve found the vast majority of our interviewees very gracious and generous with their time and we found our workshop participants attentive – even excited – about the project. It’s been a great experience.

What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you began researching?

Naz: I knew the region fairly well and had carried out research here before. However, due to the growing institutionalization of human rights throughout the GCC, tracking down the current post holders and experts clearly took some time.

Başak: I think knowing about how time flows in the GCC region - when is the best time to meet people during a working day - would have been helpful. But I think I learned quickly.

What is one insight you’d like to highlight from your research thus far?

Başak: International human rights law has definitely helped rights talk to become part of the vocabulary of elites and the youth in the GCC countries. A key step forward will be to bring human rights law to courts and judicial culture. Law and courts play an important role in concretising, applying and entrenching human rights.

Naz: UN human rights treaty obligations as Başak suggests, are legal in nature. Seeing those legal standards making their way into institutions, curricula, programmes, the media is one thing but seeing them reflected in legal practice is something we found that lawyers in the region are also looking forward to activating.

In an ideal world, how would you like to see your research utilized after the project is over?

Naz: As a first consideration of this topic, we hope it will be of some service to academics, lawyers, policy makers and human rights actors.

Başak: I would hope our research will to contribute to increasing awareness about international human rights law commitments and helping all actors in the domestication of human rights law.


Field Research in Kuwait (January 2014)

Our Lead Principal Investigator, Dr. Basak Cali, and Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Nazila Ghanea, returned to the region this month to carry out remaining field interviews in Qatar and Kuwait. A busy, yet productive trip, the professors carried out a total of 21 interviews over a period of five days.

Field Research in Kuwait

Read more about their visit at Oxford Human Rights Hub.


Ratifications of Human Rights Treaties in the GCC: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Focus (December 2013)

This month's contribution is by Lead Principal Investigator, Dr. Basak Cali. Dr. Cali is based at Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Our research project departed from the observation that the ratification of human rights treaties in GCC states has been on the rise since the early 2000s. From this observation we ask why this has happened, what motivations inform their ratification and what the consequences are in the region.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) and its ratification holds a number of 'firsts' for the region. In particular, GCC state behaviour with regard to the CRPD departs from the older practices of GCC countries with regard to other human rights treaties ratified in the region.

Ratifications of Human Rights Treaties

1. The CRPD was the first treaty to be ratified by all GCC states in the shortest span of time. This happened within six years of the treaty coming into force in December

2006. Kuwait became the 6th GCC country to accede to it on 22 August 2013. GCC countries, for the first time, therefore, have been early ratifiers of a UN human rights treaty as a regional group.

2. The CRPD is the UN human rights treaty with the least amount of reservations entered by GCC member states. In fact, only Kuwait entered any reservations to the CRPD. This is in stark contrast to all other treaties that the GCC states have ratified since the late 1960s.

3. The CRPD is the first UN human rights treaty for which one member of the GCC region, Saudi Arabia, accepted the right to individual petition. Qatar also signed this, but has not yet ratified this. To date no other GCC country has ever accepted the individuals's right to appear before UN treaty committees.

Which domestic players in the GCC facilitated this speedy ratification process? Will the GCC States accept other right to individual petition mechanisms before the UN?

We are looking more information on these questions when we next visit the region between 18-24 January 2014.


Research in Progress: Literature Reviews and Case Law (September 2013)


By Adeela Tajdar, Project Manager

As our summers draw to an end, our team is shifting gears and taking to the books. After ordering over 35, you would think we have enough reading to keep us busy, however our PIs are eager for more resources - specifically on how international law is perceived in the Gulf states.

If you know of any case law in the region citing an international human rights treaty, please do let us know. In the upcoming months, we'll be turning our attention to better understanding the legislative and judicial considerations of international human rights law in the Gulf region, and prepping for our next trip to the region in January 2014.


Workshop Report Release (July 2013)

By Adeela Tajdar, Project Manager

Today, we are pleased to release our workshop series report, written by Dr. Başak Çali, our Lead Principal Investigator from the University College London, and Dr. Nazila Ghanea, our Co-Principal Investigator from the University of Oxford. Based off of data from our May workshops, the report covers ratification processes in the GCC member states, rationales for ratification, the formulation and lifting of reservations to UN human rights treaties, and factors that facilitate and hinder implementation.

Report on Workshop - From Ratification to Implementation

Although reasons underlying ratification of treaties are diverse across states and across issue areas, discussion reveals international motives have been more dominant than domestic motives in the GCC region. Furthermore, conversation revealed particular insight into those with decision-making power to ratify a treaty or formulate reservations, showing civil society actors in the region start their implementation work at a significant disadvantage. While the report details specific case studies, it also illuminates broader trends in the region and offers insight into the politics behind the scenes.

To learn more, please download a copy of the report, available in English and Arabic, and share it with colleagues and friends. We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback as well. If you have a reflection you’d like to share, comments on the report, or questions on our research project, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our team.


Workshops 1+2: Gathering GCC Human Rights Professionals in Qatar (May 2013)

By Adeela Tajdar, Project Manager

Our project workshops were held as planned on Sunday, May 26, 2013 and Tuesday, May 28, 2013, resulting in a busy, but productive four days. We were extremely pleased with the success of both meetings in generating relevant conversation between participants, highlighting comparative insights for the research team.

For both Workshop 1 (with NGO/civil society representatives) and Workshop 2 (with governmental/National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) representatives), participants were invited to a dinner the evening prior in order to meet each other and the research team. With the ice already broken, participants then spoke candidly and in detail about the cases of their respective countries during the workshops. Due to the guidance of conversation by our helpful session facilitators, topics included reasons and rationale pre-ratification of specific treaties, challenges or barriers faced in implementation post-ratification, and perspectives on the United Nations mechanisms of monitoring and aiding implementation.

Workshop Gathering in Qatar

Despite our hopeful prediction of 4 representatives per state, we were pleased with the attendance of 19 GCC delegates. The research team was able to interview participants at length outside the workshops, seeking more information on matters covered in country presentations and earlier sessions. The Principal Investigators found they were able to cover the cases of each state fairly, supplementing their knowledge from past Universal Period Reviews, as well as their expertise in human rights law in the region – and where gaps in knowledge were discovered, our network of representatives was helpful in pointing us to outside sources for more information.

As such and despite the shorter time frame to plan the meetings, we found both workshops successful and look forward to processing the information in the coming weeks. We’d like to thank the UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Center, session facilitators, participants, student research assistants, and interpreters again for all their help. Without each piece of the puzzle doing their part, the workshops wouldn’t have gone as seamlessly as they did.

Enjoy the next month and we’ll be back in touch in July with a workshop report covering more specific reflections and observations, written by our Lead PI and Co-PI, Dr. Basak Cali and Dr. Nazila Ghanea.


Gearing up for our May Workshops (April 2013)

By Adeela Tajdar, Project Manager

Symbol of Human Rights

As most researchers are well aware of, field visits don’t always go as scheduled. As we soon found, to hold our workshops as planned in our grant proposal, would mean attempting to gather GCC human rights professionals to Doha in the hot and humid summer months of June – August. If you live in the region, you know this is prime travel time for those with families, and to top it off, the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, falls in July this year.

In order to bypass these administrative hurdles, our project team decided it was in our strategic interest to move the workshops ahead of schedule. Workshop 1 is now set for May 26, bringing together GCC representatives from non-profit and civil society backgrounds, with Workshop 2, gathering governmental and National Human Rights Institution representatives soon after on May 28.

This meant a busy two months for the team, as we researched, found, and contacted a list of star candidates for the workshops, with the aim of understanding how the actors directly involved in human rights practice at the policy and civil society levels see institutional and discursive developments in their spheres post ratification. The team at the Doha-based United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Center was of immense help to us during this time and we are grateful for their collaboration and support.

With the workshops now less than a month away, our hope is to explore in-detail the different attitudes amongst representatives for the purposes of our research, but we are equally excited to provide an avenue for networking and conversation between GCC human rights professionals. As the first high level knowledge exchange on human rights treaty ratification and implementation, we look forward to an interesting and insightful few days in the weeks ahead.


A Conversation on Women’s Rights in the GCC (March 2013)

By Adeela Tajdar, Project Manager

Dr. Nazila Ghanea, upon returning from her second field visit to the region, participated in a seminar with the Women’s Rights Research Seminar at the University of Oxford on February 27, 2013. The event featured a conversation between Dr. Ghanea, university lecturer in international human rights law, and Sultana Afdhal, a university student from Qatar and published author. Aimed to engage participants and draw parallels with other domestic contexts, our Co-PI shared observations from recent trips to Qatar and drew attention to the pace and trajectory of change in recent decades. As interviews thus far have shown, the domestic context of each state plays an important role in the uptake of women’s rights. Over the course of the next 18+ months, the team looks forward to examining this further while investigating particular case study gaps between legislation and implementation.

Qatari female athletes at the Olympics

In 2012, Qatar sent 4 female athletes to the Olympics for the first time (seen above).


To find Dr. Ghanea's piece and browe related articles, visit the Oxford Human Rights Hub.



Fieldwork in Qatar (February 2013)

By Adeela Tajdar, Project Manager

February brings cold weather in London and Geneva where two of our researchers are based, but the weather in Doha was wonderful for the team to carry out its first round of interviews. The team met with government ministries, the Qatar National Human Rights Institution, lawyers, and academics. The interview questions focused on the drivers to ratify and implement human rights treaties in Qatar, as well as challenges faced on the road to implementation.

The team is keen to access domestic case-law from Qatar and other GCC countries more broadly where lawyers, judges, or third party intervenors invoke ratified international human rights treaties. If you are aware of any case law in the region, please contact us by e-mailing our project manager, Adeela Tajdar, at


The GCC Human Rights Project Kickstarts (November 2012)

SFS-Q Building

The project was approved by Qatar National Research Fund and we started our first research year off with a project meeting held in Doha, Qatar at Georgetown's SFSQ Campus. This meeting saw Adeela Tajdar joining the team as project manager.