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December 14, 2010

Civil society leaders and activists in an open letter to the Gulf Cooperation Council requested reforms in the field of human rights and civil society empowerment in the GCC countries.

In an open letter to the Gulf Cooperation Council (parallel to the 31st top of the Gulf Cooperation Council, December 2010 in Abu Dhabi) intellectuals, academic, journalists civil society and human rights leaders from the Gulf region requested more reforms in the field of human rights and civil society empowerment in the GCC countries.

According to the signatories of the letter, the Gulf Cooperation Council since its creation in 1981 neglected major issues vital for the region as the political, social and human development of GCC citizens. There is a need to address and support civil society empowerment and the shifts perceived in it's close environment by enforcing and consolidating the rule of law. Updating and amending laws and regulations in accordance with internationally agreed and regionally ratified human rights standards and conventions. Also the need to lift reservations made by some GCC States to some covenants as the CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women), the Convention on the Rights of the Child, The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The signatories stressed the need to enforce citizenship laws and conditions, but called also for the need to resolve and address cases related to stateless individuals in line with international principles and conventions.

The open letter refers also to the danger of fuelling sectarian division; The need to amend laws that restrict individual freedoms as the freedom of expression, opinion and conscience.


The open letter drafted mainly by GCC intellectuals and academics from different sectors called for the updating and reforming of media laws, banning the imprisonment of journalists (including web bloggers, journalists working in written and broadcasted media, writers, etc). Also the need to deal with problems related to the media and the freedom of expression as civil matters and in no case as criminal offenses subjected to criminal laws.


The need to control and address the negative tendency of disproportionate growth of number of inhabitants in GCC, granting to local citizens access to employment, health care, good education. Achieving a balance between controlled economic development and human development, emphasising on social justice, equal opportunities. Giving youth the prominent role it deserves in the development process and the future of the GCC countries .


Emphasising the role of yet to be established human rights commission (by the Secretariat Cooperation Council) and the need for the newly launched commission to go beyond the theoretical aspect interacting more actively with the civil society in GCC countries.


Emphasising on the role of women and the need to empower them ensuring them equal rights with men and highlighting their crucial role in the development of local societies according to international laws and conventions.