David Keane

This short comment assesses the situation of cartoons, comics and human rights after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. It engages questions on the meaning and history of cartoons, as well as freedom of expression, to find a new pathway beyond the parameters of the current debate. In particular, it asks why the protection of freedom of expression on Europe became contingent on drawing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. Rather than assigning a role for law in preventing such cartoons, or for freedom of expression in protecting them, it argues that desisting from drawing them would have no discernible impact. It highlights other means by which cartoons and comics can advance the human rights discourse, including pioneering comics authors in this regard. In conclusion it argues for an end to the largely dysfunctional terms of the debate and envisages a more progressive horizon.

Nicholas McGeehan and David Keane

Abstract

The appalling treatment of migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who constitute 80 per cent of the population and 95 per cent of the workforce, has largely escaped international scrutiny. The paper analyses the failure to protect migrant workers' rights in the UAE from a domestic and an international perspective. It outlines the extent of the abuses and demonstrates how the state's weak domestic laws have been further undermined by poor enforcement mechanisms and a lack of political will to address the issue. It examines violations of international human rights law and possible avenues of redress, notably those relating to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965, one of only three international human rights treaties that the UAE has ratified. Furthermore, the paper will argue that the UAE's exploitation of the relative economic weakness of its South Asian neighbours has led to a situation that can be characterised as bonded labour of migrant workers, a form of slavery as defined under international law. It will be concluded that domestic labour provisions in the UAE will never be sufficient to provide basic rights to migrant workers due to the de facto control of the private sector by the public sector. Therefore, concerted international attention and pressure will be required to improve a situation in which over two million workers live in terrible conditions, wholly at odds with the wealth and luxury of the country they have helped to build.

Series:

David Keane and Tenia Kyriazi

Abstract

Human rights education and training (HRE) has been gaining greater momentum since the 1990s, emerging as a human right and setting the framework for relevant state obligations through hard law and soft law instruments. As such, it has been clearly articulated in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training (2011). In the GCC, where the project of modernizing education set off only in the 1950s, states have only recently started engaging with international human rights law in a more meaningful fashion. In this context, the development of human rights education has been facing a number of challenges. The paper explores the emergence of the right to human rights education in the GCC, outlining its origins and meaning in international human rights law. It also studies the implementation of the right in the six GCC states, examining their HRE obligations, as identified and articulated by treaty-based and Charter-based bodies through the monitoring process. To conclude, the paper argues that HRE requires greater engagement in the Gulf, not only as an international obligation, but, most importantly, as a reflection of a necessary transformation in the educational and human rights culture in the region, in line with a more sustainable, post-oil outlook.