Bahrain Leads Gulf in Human Rights

The decision to set up a GCC Office for Human Rights is regarded as one of the major achievements of the 31st Summit of the Gulf Council Cooperation (GCC) held in Abu Dhabi in December 2010.

This decision bears two significant indications: the first relates to the reasons and rationales behind setting up such an office, and the second is that the Office represents a new horizon to develop human rights in the region. However, in order for the newly established Office to fulfil its objectives, it needs to be well resourced and invested in given the fact that we live in an open and transparent world and that human rights are well scrutinized and protected and any violation thereto cannot be ignor?d.

In the closing statement of the GCC Summit, the Supreme Council endorsed the establishment of the GCC Office for Human Rights, as part of the General Secretariat. The setting up of the Office came as a result of the implementation of Bahrain’s Vision for the Development of the GCC in the field of human rights. It is obvious that Bahrain is trying to bring the GCC countries closer to human rights, despite some concern and reservations. Bahrain believes that it is difficult for any GCC country to remain una?fected by changes taken place in the other Gulf countries, if they decide to pursue political and human rights changes.

Bahrain’s proposals regarding human rights were no coincidences, but part of a general vision regarding the future of the GCC. Even if the beginnings are modest, it is important to break the ice between the Gulf countries and international human rights organizations. The pioneering position of Bahrain means that it bears a greater responsibility towards caring for the newly formed GCC Human Rights Office. In order for the Office to develop, officials in the GCC countries need to pay more attention to the importance of human rights. Setting up the GCC Human Rights Office was just the first step, and more ser?ous work is needed. This includes the creation of a suitable atmosphere for the development of human rights, passing laws and appropriate regulations, exchanging expertise between the GCC countries, and allowing civil society organizations the opportunity and freedom to play their indispensible role.