Thursday 18th of April 2019 |
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Saudi Arabia-Canada row - Editorial, The Jordan Times



The ranting between Canada and Saudi Arabia over alleged human rights violations against human rights activists and defenders of women's rights in Saudi Arabia could have been avoided altogether had Ottawa followed the normal procedure to channel its concerns.
Countries cannot go about charging other countries with human rights violations on their own, without first airing them before a proper and recognised human rights fora. No country can be a judge of human rights issues on its own. Had Canada raised the issue before a UN human rights body first in order to ascertain the validity of its charges and then receive endorsement of its concerns by the majority of member states, then Riyadh probably would not had complained.
Ottawa cannot be the accuser and the judge all on its own. Only the proper international fora can be the arbiters over such serious issues. Against this backdrop, Ottawa erred by bypassing international human rights bodies in order to investigate its concerns judiciously first before escalating its stand-off with Riyadh.
It is never too late to correct this mistake and Ottawa should take the initiative in correcting its posture against Saudi Arabia for allegedly violating civil rights in the country. Women’s human rights are always sensitive and given the conflicting cultures and religions in the world, making judgements on women rights is a very sensitive issue.
That said, the international community has successfully adopted basic human rights standards concerning women living under different cultures. These guidelines were considered and adopted in the presence of representatives of most countries of the world. Various religious and cultural values were taken on board during the debate on them.
Countries that differ with the majority view can of course enter a reservation on a particular language, provided that this reservation does not interfere with the substance and objective of the human rights code. This way Riyadh could have saved itself from wild complaints and Ottawa could have avoided a major diplomatic row with Riyadh.

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