On 4 February 2021, the International Court of Justice handed down judgment in respect of the preliminary objections raised by the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) in Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v United Arab Emirates).
The Court upheld the UAE’s first preliminary objection ratione materiae by an 11-6 majority. It concluded that it had no jurisdiction over any of Qatar’s claims that the UAE had breached the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
The judgment is a landmark decision which provides important guidance as to the correct interpretation and application of the CERD and its proper scope of application, including in particular in respect of the central notion of “racial discrimination”. Notably, the judgment clarifies that:
The proceedings were commenced by Qatar in June 2018 and have previously resulted in two requests for provisional measures. The judgment on preliminary objections is final and binding and brings the proceedings to a close.
Sir Daniel Bethlehem QC and Simon Olleson of Twenty Essex, together with Professor Mathias Forteau of the University of Paris Nanterre, acted on behalf of the UAE, assisting a team from the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.