United Arab Emirates

Back to the map with all countries
CountryUnited Arab Emirates
Optional protocolon the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
ViolenceThe Committee is concerned that men are authorized to use violence against their wives and children within the limits prescribed by sharia or by law and provides that perpetrators of crimes can escape punishment if the violence is “performed in good faith”.
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care and as a sentence for crime. Prohibition in penal institutions requires confirmation.
Overview of the child rights situation

In the United Arab Emirates, despite the wealth, there are no free kindergartens and the charity towards asylum seeking children or children with disability could further increase. The implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is not given enough (financial) resources, and especially the free development of girls is challenged by patriarchal laws and violence.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee is concerned that the only ground for allowing abortion in the State party is a woman’s or girl’s life being in danger, abortion being criminalized in all other situations. The Committee recommends that the State party adopt a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy for adolescents and ensure that sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum and targets adolescent girls and boys, with special attention paid to preventing early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and fostering responsible sexual behaviour, particularly among boys and men.

Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee welcomes all the circulars adopted to adapt the school environment for children with visual impairments (e.g., by providing school books in Braille) or autism and provide specific training to teachers. It is concerned, however, that priority is still given to the provision of special education, including in mainstream schools, over the development of a fully inclusive educational system. The Committee is also concerned about the lack of disaggregated data on children with disabilities and about the lack of measures to include them in recreational, sport and cultural activities, which remain mostly segregated.
To improve the situation, the Committee urges the State party to adopt a human-rights-based approach to disability and to collect disaggregated data on children with disabilities in order to develop efficient policies and strategies for these children and adequately monitor the implementation of those policies. The State party should also set up a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities in the mainstream educational system, as well as in recreational, sport and cultural activities and society at large.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe Committee regrets that the State party does not recognize the presence of refugees and asylum seekers on its territory and has still not adopted any legal and policy framework in this respect, as recognized in its responses to the Committee’s list of issues, a situation which has led to violations of the rights of refugee, asylum-seeking and unaccompanied children. The Committee is particularly concerned about the situation of Syrian refugee families, including children who lack access to all basic services.Therefore, the Committee recommends that the State party consider ratifying the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and adopt the necessary legal framework, as well as all the necessary measures in line with the Sharjah Principles, with a view to ensuring that asylum-seeking and refugee children, including Syrian children, fully enjoy their rights under the Convention.
Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolYes
physical health

The Committee recommends to regulate the marketing of unhealthy food, especially when such marketing is focused on children, regulate the availability of such food in schools and other places, provide children with accurate and objective information about substance abuse, and develop specialized and youth-friendly drug-dependence treatment and harm reduction services.

Relation to other countries
Impacts of climate change

The Committee welcomes the numerous achievements of the State party in the field of child health. The Committee is concerned, however, about the consequences of the high consumption of petroleum on children’s health, in particular about air pollution and lead poisoning. The Committee recommends that the State party assess the negative consequences of petroleum consumption on children’s rights and address the situation with adequate measures.

Business sector

The Committee, while noting that the employment of children under the age of 15 is prohibited, is concerned that this prohibition does not apply to certain sectors of the economy, such as agriculture. To improve the situation, the Committee recommends that the State party clearly prohibit labour by children under the age of 15 in all sectors of the economy.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee remains concerned that the new federal bill on juvenile justice contains derogatory language regarding children in conflict with the law as well as that the State party does not clarify the criteria used to determine whether cases involving children over the age of 16 years are referred to civil courts or to sharia courts.
The Committee urges the State party to bring its juvenile justice system fully into line with the Convention and other relevant standards, and in particular to clarifying that all children in conflict with the law should be brought before juvenile justice, and not religious, courts. Also, the Emirates should ensure the provision of qualified and independent legal aid to children in conflict with the law at an early stage of, as well as throughout, any legal proceedings.

Specific observations

The Committee remains concerned that children of a mother who is a national of the United Arab Emirates and a father who is not cannot acquire the nationality of the State party and are at great risk of becoming stateless. The Committee is also concerned that the criminalization of sexual relations outside marriage prevents the registration of children born out of wedlock and may lead to their abandonment.

Further, the Committee observes that the State party’s adoption of narrow interpretations of Islamic texts in some areas may impede the enjoyment of some rights protected under the Convention.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the second periodic reports released on 30 October 2015. More information about education in UAE: https://www.ebnnursery.com and https://u.ae

Last Updated (date)22nd of February, 2022