Problematic Relations with International Organizations
Hasan Moosa Shafaei
|Hasan Moosa Shafaei
There is a common feeling among human rights organizations and
some western countries that they are being ignored by the Bahraini
Government. This has had negative political effects on their mutual
relations and has distorted the image of the Bahraini Government
in the media. The activities of these organizations and their continued
condemnation have also increased political pressure on Bahrain and
The Government has always stated that its policy of improving
its relations with international organizations has been to no avail.
It also added that it had facilitated visits of human rights activists
to Bahrain and furnished them with all the information needed. Yet,
the Government received no positive response and the positive steps
it took for dealing with the aftermath of the recent events were
not appreciated. Also – according to the Government- these organizations
do not include the Government’s pint of view in their reports and
intentionally continued to criticise the government despite the
cooperation it had shown.
In other words, the Bahraini Government believes that all its
efforts to improve its relations with international human rights
organizations are wasted, pointless and should be reconsidered.
Hence, the Government has resorted to a new strategy in dealing
with human rights organizations which includes placing new procedures
regarding their travel arrangements, ignoring their inquiries and
delaying their applications for visits. The reasons for this could
be the following:
The monitoring of violations, issuing of statements and criticizing
the Government have not only continued but have actually increased.
The Government feels that the coverage of the events in Bahrain
by these organizations is exaggerated and imbalanced. The lack of
cooperation between both sides has led these organizations to depend
on the opposition’s sources for information. This attitude has resulted
in increasing political pressure on Bahrain and its allies who cannot
ignore the political and media influence of these organizations.
The continued tension between both sides as well as the prevention
of international organisations from accessing information will not
serve the Government or provide a balanced picture of the situation.
Therefore, revising this policy is very essential.
There are two aspects to the relationship between international
human rights organizations and the Bahraini Government which should
This relates to the attitude of both sides. For if a positive
and constructive attitude is maintained, mutual trust will grow
and tension will decrease.
From the point of view of international organizations, there
is a lack of trust in the Government for the following reasons:
1/ The Government of Bahrain made many promises and commitments
with regard to its future policies and programs, but its implementation
slow and lacks transparency. Human rights organizations say that
after many experiences with the Bahraini Government, it cannot trust
the seriousness of its promises. Thus, focus should be directed
towards what has been achieved on the ground and not to the issues
which could be achieved in the future. Also, it is important that
the Government does not make promises that it is unable to keep.
2/ International Human Rights Organizations complain that some
officials have denied certain issues such as ill treatment, the
number of detainees, the excessive use of force and the slow pace
of the implementation of Bassiouni’s recommendations. This left
an impression among international bodies that denial has become
an official policy; even though the Government has recently admitted
the occurrence of human rights violations in many cases and has
taken procedures to prevent them.
3/ Human rights organizations complain that their letters of
inquiry have been purposely ignored, delayed or not taken seriously.
This is seen by them as a form of disrespect for their work, staff
4/ International organizations also state that the Government
accuses them of exaggeration, but in reality, it is the Government
who exaggerates its achievements and paints a rosy picture of human
rights in Bahrain.
In any country, including the West, the continuation of human
rights violations causes a considerable amount of tension in relations
with international organizations. The situation only eases after
a notable improvement in the performance of the related government
and its efforts to prevent further breaches. On one hand, the Government
claims that international human rights organizations only see the
negatives. But on the other hand, international organisations state
that while they appreciate the human rights achievements, they are
more interested in decreasing the number of violations by exe?ting
more pressure in order to improve the situation.
International human rights organizations complain that:
1/ The Government of Bahrain did not allow both local public
opinion and human rights organisations to participate in the steps
that have taken place. According to these organizations the Government
did not ask for their opinion with regards to its human rights policies
and the development of legislations. Moreover, the Government does
not follow their recommendations, allow their participation in Government
workshops or allow them to develop the Bahraini civil society.
2/ The pace of the development is very slow especially regarding
the implementation of Bassiouni’s recommendations. This has been
admitted by the Government and was noticed by official western delegations
who visited Bahrain recently.
3/ These organizations believe that the Government has its own
understanding of some human rights issues which contradict international
Such complaints required that Bahrain engage in a real and transparent
dialogue with the representatives of international human rights
organizations to discuss controversial and fundamental issues in
order to restore trust between the two parties, serve human rights
in Bahrain, promote credibility and improve Bahrain’s image obroad.