As part of Kuwait’s continued affirmation and commitment to human rights on both the national and international levels, as well as stemming from its genuine desire to forge ahead towards the propagation and promotion of these rights as linchpin for the prosperity and development of societies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a symposium last week on Kuwait’s support for human rights in all its forms.
The symposium, which was held at the Saud Nasser Al-Sabha Kuwait Diplomatic Institute, on the occasion of adopting law no.21/2015 on the rights of children, saw the attendance of a host of dignitaries and diplomats led by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Khaled Al-Jarallah. Other speakers and attendees at the symposium included the Deputy of the International Committee for Child Rights at the United Nations, Amal Al-Dosari; Head of the National Society for Child Protection, Dr Siham Al-Fraih; Head of the Child Protection Department at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Mona Al-Khawari and the Undersecretary of the Appeals Court, Consultant Dr. Adel Al-Failakawi.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs began the symposium by pointing out that the Kuwaiti constitution enshrined the rights of children in its articles 9 and 10, which the law 21/2015 later specified. “Kuwait has ratified many conventions on child rights, out of which the most significant one is the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two protocols, which became part of the national law,” he said.
Clarifying that law 21/2015 includes 97 articles that provide complete protection to children in all aspects, including health, social education, cultural and legal, in addition to the disabled, Al-Jarallah added, “The constitution and other laws secure the protection of children to assure a suitable environment for their upbringing.” He went on to note that the purpose behind the symposium was to draw social awareness to the law and to underscore the achievements made by Kuwait in this field through local laws and international conventions.
The fact that the symposium was held at the Kuwait Diplomatic Institute was significant in that it highlighted the keenness of Ministry of Foreign Affairs to leverage its diplomats and diplomatic missions abroad to project the true picture of the situation of human rights in Kuwait and the country’s commitment to protecting and preserving this universal right. Elaborating on this, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs made it clear that the ministry seeks to develop the capacities of its diplomats through intensive training courses, in order to propagate and promote the principles of human rights and raise awareness of Kuwait’s commitment to these endeavors.
In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a number of books pertaining to human rights in Kuwait, which covers the most important legal and constitutional basis relevant to these rights in the country. The book also draws focus on all the actions taken by Kuwait with regard to human rights, and indicates the role of each governmental entity concerned with these rights.
The books published by the foreign ministry, in cooperation with other ministries, governmental institutions and other entities, form part of a development project titled, ‘The Promotion of the Role and the Efforts of the State of Kuwait in the field of Human Rights’. Among the monographs published are one on, ‘Human Rights in State of Kuwait – Fundamentals and Basis’ and another on ‘Rights of the Child in the State of Kuwait 2015’. These two books serve as a basic reference for everything that is relevant to human rights and children’s rights in the State of Kuwait.
The book on human rights reads: “Human rights are by their very nature values and entitlements guaranteed and secured by all codes, laws and international conventions, in accordance with domestic and international frameworks. When we state that that they are entitlements, this means that they are inherent and linked to man’s life. Thus they are mandatory for states; even their progress and development are contingent on the availability of such rights and their protection for everyone residing on their territories. Linking such rights to divine codes and laws serves to buttress them, render them axiomatic, and limit the chances of undermining them, violating them or compromising them.”
In this context, it is worth noting that Kuwait is signatory to and party to numerous human rights and international humanitarian law conventions. The country had put its signature to two significant international human rights documents, the Geneva Convention of 1949, and the Convention for the Suppression of the Trafficking in Persons and of the Exploitation or the Prostitution of Others in 1959, even before Kuwait gained its independence in 1961. These signatures were later ratified and codified into law in 1967 and 1968 respectively.
Kuwait has also made into law in 1968, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which it signed in 1966. In 1994, the country enacted the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which it signed in 1979; and in 1996 issued a law on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Penalty, which was signed in 1984. Kuwait is also a signatory to and has enshrined in law the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013.
Since joining the International Labor organization in 1960, Kuwait has also ratified 19 conventions relevant to the basic rights of workers, most important among which are the prohibition of forced labor, discrimination in treatment in professional employment, prohibition of the employment of children below the age of work, and the elimination of the worst forms of their exploitation.
Kuwait’s commitment to human rights is not only enshrined in its constitution and enacted through its laws, it is also highly relevant that in the opening page of the book on human rights, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah states: “Commitment to the Principles of human rights, as the linchpin of a free and dignified life, with the rights and freedoms they encompass, will provide stability for our homelands and equanimity for our peoples.”