Thursday, August 27, 2009

Telescopic Analysis- Week # 78; Dated 5th July- 31st July; Zone 1-Asia

Telescopic Analysis
Social reform and Human Rights: A heightened awareness of social issues, a shift in societal trends or triggered by international pressures/influence?

The weekly analysis report for global sampling in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation council) showed some activity at the national level on the human rights front. In Kuwait for example violations against the disabled were brought under investigation by the Kuwait Lawyers' Association's (KLA) Human Rights Department. This was triggered by a large number of complaints received from disabled citizens, as well as from the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped (KSH). The issue under consideration was the nature of legal action to be taken against anyone found to be acting illegally in their treatment of disabled individuals. The official giving the statement firmly rejected any attempts to connect working for human rights with politics, saying that the KLA is an independent, nonpartisan body which appreciates all the efforts made by the government and parliament to enforce the laws introduced regarding this issue.

In the mean time Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) wants the law protecting women's rights to be reviewed. Their agenda included seeking citizenship for the offspring of Qatari women married to foreigners and active participation of women in politics with an affirmation to publish literature aimed at making people aware of the fundamental rights of women and workers.

This activity on the human rights front comes in an environment of international integration and global influence. Al Jisr project aimed at Public Diplomacy and Outreach devoted to the European Union and EU-GCC Relations notes that human rights forms an integral part of the EU’s Free Trade Area negotiations. The Political Reform in the GCC and its Implications for EU Policy are thus under scrutiny.

At the same time reports of abuse meted out to foreign workers, especially towards house maids in the gulf nations has been repeatedly highlighted in the media. Also the conditions of expatriates working in the gulf have been highlighted while the recruitment process has been criticized for heightening the intensity of exploitation.
Discussion Questions:

§ To what extent is the human rights front in the GCC being driven by a heightened awareness of societal issues in the national psyche? Does it depict a shift in societal trends and cultural prerogatives?

§ What degree of influence or pressure does the international community pose in this regard?

§ Is not the difference in efforts made towards betterment of citizens vs. foreign expatriate workers indicative of double standards in the principles driving national campaigns?

Ø Are people turning to law (as passed by legislatures in the given countries) as opposed to political agitation because the channels for political organization are restricted, or is there greater legitimacy of law (Shariah) in the gulf countries and it is harder to contest the law by rulers?

Business and Politics in the Muslim World (BPM)refers to the project entitled, "Globalized Business and Politics: A View from the Muslim World.' This project has been undertaken and developed by the Gilani Research Foundation as a free resource and social discussion tool.

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