Karim Ghezraoui: Qatar has worked very hard and we are witnessing very positive actions
Doha: January 19, 2019
Ms. Koumbou Barry, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education confirmed that she had received invitations to study the violations of hundreds of Qatari students who had been deprived of their right to education because of the unjust blockade. At the same time, pointing out that Qatar enjoys security and peace, and provides a remarkable space for the transition and development of education.
Mr. Karim Ghezraoui, Chief of Section in the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed Qatar’s keenness to develop human rights and coordinate with the special mechanisms, “The State of Qatar works hard to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on workers Immigrants, and we witness very positive actions, such as the abolition of the sponsorship system and exit permits.”
An intensive academic and diplomatic presence
The remarks were made during an academic seminar organized by the National Human Rights Committee and hosted by Qatar University, entitled “Role of United Nations Special Rapporteurs in the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights”. The seminar, chaired by Dr. Mohammed Saif Al Kuwari, a member of the National Human Rights Committee, dealt with the work and terms of reference of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs and the definition of their mandate with civil society organizations. The meeting was attended by distinguished academics and students of Qatar University.
The seminar was organized on the sidelines of the visit by Ms. Koumbou Barry and Mr. Karim Khazraoui to Doha, at the invitation of the National Human Rights Committee, as part of the definition of the mandate of the special rapporteurs.
Koumbou Barry: Education is valued and respected in Qatar
Ms. Koumbou Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to Education at the United Nations, said that she came to Qatar carrying messages to the Qatari leadership and people. The first is “recognition, appreciation and gratitude to the State of Qatar, which I visited for the second time. My first time was with the minister of education in Burkina Faso in a High level conference on education. I believe this country enjoys security and peace, and it provides a very remarkable space for education, which reflects Qatar’s appreciation and respect for education.”
Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to Education
Ms. Koumbou Barry spoke of her mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on the right to Education, pointing out the mandates of the special rapporteurs are academic, and they provide a summary of their knowledge and experience free of charge, contrary to what many individuals think. “My mandate includes all the countries of the world, I work with a number of international universities. I also work with civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations, and exchange communications requesting support and information; furthermore I cooperate with UNESCO and other United Nations organizations” said Ms. Barry.
Ms. Koumbou explained that there are three tools and mechanisms used by the Special Rapporteur, the first of which was field visits to the States, assessing their education system and preparing a detailed report to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council in Geneva; The second mechanism is to focus on a specific theme, such as support for students with special needs or literacy programs, noting that they focus on specific topics, such as aspects of financing education, in which reports are submitted to the competent authorities in the countries visited, including recommendations to enhance the quality of education provided. The third tool relates to addressing violations of education, upon the receipt of complaints. “I am responsible of studying this information, conducting an assessment of the complaint in detail, requesting clarification from the Governments on the such violations targeting a particular category or region”, said Ms. Barry.
Karim Ghezraoui: Qatar is keen to develop human rights
“On behalf of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Middle East, I would like to thank the National Human Rights Committee for the initiative and the Qatar University for Hosting,” said Karim Ghezraoui is a Chief of Section in the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“We appreciate the cooperation of the State of Qatar with special procedures mechanisms and special rapporteurs. The Special Rapporteur on migrant workers has visited the State of Qatar and submitted a very important report. We believe that the State of Qatar has seriously worked on the implementation of the recommendations within six years and we are beginning to see very positive actions. A lot of things have happened, such as the abolition of the sponsorship system and exit permits” said Ghezraoui.
Development of the special procedures mechanism
Mr. Kareem Ghezraoui gave a historical account of the evolution of the special procedures mechanism. “It is very important to note that the Special Rapporteur is independent and works alone. He has a network of relations with various organizations and parties that work with him and assists him. Many of the special rapporteurs are under pressure from their own countries, and even from UN member states at times” said Mr. Ghezraoui, pointing out that sometimes this is difficult to achieve. For example, the Special Rapporteur on torture may send a letter to a State about violations, But some countries respond, others may refuse, and they cannot visit the country unless the state concerned agrees.
Ghezraoui also pointed out that the special rapporteurs always ask the Member States to accept invitations to visit them, and they have already visited most of the world, making the system of special rapporteurs global. Some States have also submitted requests to visit them. However, it is not possible to visit all the countries of the world on a continuous basis. This is one of the challenges facing special rapporteurs, noting that the Special Rapporteur could examine individual cases of persons who submit a complaint to special rapporteurs and ask for clarification from the State concerned.
Independence of Special Rapporteurs
The Chief of Section in the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed that only the special rapporteurs decide what is contained in the reports they prepare, based on their research and the nature of the situation in that country. Special rapporteurs meet with government officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals as deemed necessary.
Ghezraoui pointed out that some countries sometimes want to put forward a defined schedule of the of special rapporteurs. Some special rapporteurs refuse to remain in one city, for example, and this requires negotiation with the State through the Office of the High Commissioner and coordinators of the groups, noting that following the visit, the Special Rapporteur submit a summary of his work and his report to the country concerned for their views. States may make written reservations, but the Special Rapporteur may accept or reject such observations.