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- Year: 2004
- Country: Transnational
- Language: English
- Document Type: International Treaty
- Topic: Assembly and Protest,Defending Civil Society,Regional/Global Overviews
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ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2004
Translation by Dr. Mohammed Amin Al-Midani and
Revised by Professor Susan M. Akram*
The Boston University International Law Journal is publishing, for the
first time, an English version of the 2004 Arab Charter on Human Rights.
A very brief review of how the 2004 Arab Charter came into being
introduces this English translation. The drafting history of the Arab Char-
ter on Human Rights begins in 1960. In that year, members of the Union
of Arab Lawyers (the oldest NGO in the Arab world) requested the
League of Arab States (created in 1945)
1 during their meeting in Damas-
cus to adopt an Arab Convention on Human Rights 2. Eight years later,
participants in the first meeting for Human Rights in the Arab world held
in Beirut, asked the Arab Commission on Human Rights
3 to prepare an
Arab Charter on Human Rights 4.
In 1994, the League of Arab States adopted the first version of the
Arab Charter on Human Rights at its 50th anniversary. The adoption of
the Charter symbolized the importance of respect for human rights both
to the Arab world and the League. The League’s adoption of the Arab
* Translation by DR. M OHAMMED AMIN AL-M IDANI , President of Arab Center for
International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Education. Lecture Fellow,
University Robert Schuman, Strasbourg, France, and
MATHILDE CABANETTES , LLM
Graduate, Boston University. Revised by
SUSAN M. A KRAM , Clinical Professor,
Boston University School of Law.
1See R. Macdonald, The League of Arab Stares, a Study in the Dynamics of
Regional Organisation. Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1965. See
also M. SHIHAB, « Arab States, League of », Encyclopaedia of Public International
Law, Volume One, 1992.
2See J. F. Lalive, « La protection des droits de l’homme dans le cadre des
Organisations r ´egionales existantes », in Les droits de l’homme en droit interne et en
droit international, Colloque international sur la Convention europ ´eenne des droits de
l’homme, Vienne du 18 au 20 octobre 1965, Bruxelles, 1968, p. 509.
3See R Daoudi, « Human Rights Commission of the Arab States », Encyclopaedia
of Public International Law, Volume Two, 1995. .
4See B. Boutros-Ghali, « La Ligue des Etats Arabes », in Les dimensions
internationales des droits de l’homme, Unesco, Paris, 1978, p.638.
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148BOSTON UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL[Vol. 24:147
Charter was critical because the Charter of the League makes no mention
of human rights 5.
This first version of the Charter has 43 articles after the Preamble 6. The
Charter proclaims essentially the same rights as those embodied in the
other international and regional human rights instruments. The main
weakness with the 1994 version was the lack of any human rights enforce-
ment mechanism, particularly in comparison to the mechanisms within
the European and American Conventions on Human Rights, and the
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Following the passage of the Arab Charter, there was increasing criti-
cism of its deficiencies by experts, NGO’s, academics and others. Numer-
ous meetings and conferences were organized in Europe and in the Arab
World to pressure Arab governments to amend the Charter. In a resolu-
tion passed on January 10, 2003, the Arab Commission on Human Rights
invited the Arab States to submit observations and proposals to improve
the Charter, with a promise that the Commission would examine the
Charter again in January 2004. On a parallel track, the High Commis-
sioner for Human Rights invited many Arab experts for a meeting in
Cairo in December 2003 to present and discuss proposals to improve the
Charter. Finally, in May 23, 2004, a new version of this Charter was
presented to the Arab Summit in Tunisia, where the new version was
The new version of the Charter contains 53 articles after the Preamble,
which remains essentially the same as in the first version. Article 2 of the
Charter is very similar to the second article in the International Cove-
nants of 1966 concerning the rights of people (the Arab people) to self
determination, to control their natural wealth and resources, to freely
determine the form of their political structure and to freely pursue their
economic, social and cultural development.
The remainder of the articles of this Charter can be grouped into four
The first category concerns individual rights: the right to life (articles 5,
6 and 7)
8; the right not to be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading
5See Mohammed Amin Al-Midani, « La Ligue des Etats arabes et les droits de
l’homme », Scienza & Politica, Universit `a di Bologna, n
° 26, 2002, pp. 101-114. 6See this first version in Human Rights Law Journal (HRLJ), 29 August 1997, Vol.
°. 1-4, p. 151. 7See Mohammed Amin Al-Midani, Les droits de l’homme et l’Islam. Textes des
Organisations arabes et islamiques. Pr ´eface Jean-Fran ¸cois Collange, Association des
Publications de la Facult ´e de Th ´eologie Protestante, Universit ´e Marc Bloch,
Strasbourg, 2003, p. 25.
8See Mohammed Amin Al-Midani, « A propos de quelques droits garantis par la
Charte arabe des droits de l’homme de 2004 » in La nouvelle Charte arabe des droits
de l’homme. Dialogue italo-arabe. Actes de la Table Ronde italo-arabe du 17-18
d´ecembre 2004, Messina, sous la direction de Claudio Zanghi et Raf ˆaa Ben Achour,
Giappichelli Editore, Torino, Italie, 2005, pp. 133-144.
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2006]ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2004149
treatment (articles 8, 9, 18 and 20); the right to be free from slavery (arti-
cle 10); the right to security of the person (articles 14 and 18).
The second category concerns rules of justice: the right of all persons to
be equal before the law (article 12); the rights to due process and fair trial
(articles 13, 15, 16, 17 and 19).
The third category concerns civil and political rights: the right to free-
dom of movement (articles 24, 26 and 27); the right of respect for private
and family life (article 21); rights of minorities (article 25); the right of
political asylum (article 28); the right to acquire a nationality (article 29);
liberty of thought, belief and religion (article 30); the right of private
property (article 31); the right of information and liberty of opinion,
expression and research (article 32); the right to full consent to marriage
The fourth category concerns economic, social and cultural rights: the
right to work (article 34); the right to form trade unions (article 35); the
right to social protection (article 36); the right of development (article
37); the right of education (article 41); the right to participate in cultural
life (article 42).
What is new and important in the new version is the confirmation of
equality between men and women in the Arab World (article 3 & 1). The
new version also guarantees children’s rights (article 34 & 3) and the
rights of handicapped persons (article 40). However, the main criticism of
the old version remains unresolved in the new one: there is no effective
enforcement mechanism. The expert Committee remains the only system
of monitoring state compliance. The Committee, comprising 7 members,
receives periodic reports from States parties, but there is no mechanism
for petitions from a State party or an individual to this Committee for
violations of the Charter. Nor does the Charter establish any other
enforcement mechanism, such as the hoped-for Arab Court on Human
The 2004 Arab Charter on Human Rights is far from becoming a bind-
ing treaty. To enter into force, seven ratifications are necessary. Although
five states have signed it to date — Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia
and Yemen — only Jordan has thus far ratified it. Before the Charter
becomes reality, concerned groups and individuals will have to mount a
significant campaign to persuade the Arab states that this Charter reflects
the demands and aspirations of the people of the Arab world, and that it
reflects their desire for a meaningful, enforceable human rights system in
Dr. Mohammed Amin Al-Midani
RAB C HARTER ON H UMAN R IGHTS 2004
Given the Arab nation’s belief in human dignity since God honoured it
by making the Arab World the cradle of religions and the birthplace of
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150BOSTON UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL[Vol. 24:147
civilizations which confirms its right to a life of dignity, based on freedom,
justice and equality,
Pursuant to the eternal principles of brotherhood, equality and toler-
ance among all human beings which were firmly established by the
Islamic Shari’a and other divinely-revealed religions,
Being proud of the humanitarian principles which it firmly established
in the course of its long history and which played a major role in dissemi-
nating centres of learning between the East and the West, thereby making
it an international focal point for seekers of knowledge, culture and
Conscious of the fact that the entire Arab World has always worked
together to preserve its faith, believed in its unity, struggled to protect its
freedom, defended the right of nations to self-determination, to safeguard
their resources and to development, believed in the rule of law and its
contribution to the protection of universal and interrelated human rights,
and believed that every individual’s enjoyment of freedom, justice, and
equality of opportunity is the yardstick by which the merits of any society
Rejecting racism and zionism which constitute a violation of human
rights and pose a threat to international peace and security, acknowledg-
ing the close interrelationship between human rights and world peace,
reaffirming the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the provisions of the
United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the
Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam,
The State Parties to this Charter have agreed as follows:
The present Charter shall undertake, in the context of the national
identity of the Arab States, their sense of belonging to a common civilisa-
tion, to achieve the following goals:
1. To place human rights at the centre of national preoccupation in the
Arab States, to create great (fundamental) ideals for guiding the
individual’s will in these Arab States, and to help him improve his
situation (life) in accordance with the noblest human values.
2. To instill (teach) in the human being in the Arab States pride in his
identity, to (be) be faithful to his nation and to have a bond with his
land, his history and common interests with all human beings in the
Arab States. To encourage humane brotherhood, tolerance and
open-mindedness in accordance with universal principles and the
principles set out in human rights international instruments.
3. To prepare future generations in the Arab States to live free and
responsible lives in a civil society united by a balance between con-
sciousness of rights and respect for obligations, and governed by
principles of equality, tolerance and moderation.
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2006]ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2004151
4. To establish the principle that all human rights are universal, indivis-
ible, interdependent and indissoluble.
1. All peoples have the right of self-determination and control over
their natural wealth and resources and, accordingly, have the right
to freely determine the form of their political structure and to freely
pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples have the right to live under national sovereignty and
3. All forms of racism, zionism, occupation and foreign domination
pose a challenge to human dignity and constitute a fundamental
obstacle to the realization of the basic rights of peoples. There is a
need to condemn and endeavour to eliminate all such practices.
4. All peoples have the right to resist foreign occupation.
1. Each State Party to the present Charter undertakes to ensure to all
individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the right
to enjoy all the rights and freedoms recognized herein, without any
distinction on grounds of race, color, sex, language, religion, opin-
ion, thought, national or social origin, property, birth or physical or
2. The States Party to the present Charter shall undertake necessary
measures to guarantee effective equality in the enjoyment of all
rights and liberties established in the present Charter, so as to pro-
tect against all forms of discrimination based on any reason men-
tioned in the previous paragraph.
3. Men and women are equal in human dignity, in rights and in duties,
within the framework of the positive discrimination established in
favor of women by Islamic Shari’a and other divine laws, legislation
and international instruments. Consequently, each State Party to the
present Charter shall undertake all necessary measures to guarantee
the effective equality between men and women.
1. In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation
and which shall be officially proclaimed as such, the State Parties
may take measures derogating from their obligations under the pre-
sent Charter to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the
situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with
their other obligations under international law and do not involve
discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language,
religion or social origin.
2. No derogation from articles 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22, 27,
28, and 29 shall be made under this provision. The legal guarantees
for the protection of those rights may not be suspended.
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152BOSTON UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL[Vol. 24:147
3. Any State Party to the present Charter availing itself of the right of
derogation shall immediately inform the other States Parties,
through the intermediary of the Secretary General of the League of
Arab States, of the provisions from which it has derogated and of
the reason for which the derogation was declared. A further com-
munication shall be made, through the same intermediary, on the
date on which it shall terminate such derogation.
1. Every human being has an inherent right to life.
2. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily
deprived of his life.
The death penalty shall be inflicted only for the most serious crimes in
accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the
crime. Such a penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judg-
ment rendered by a competent court. Anyone sentenced to death shall
have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.
1. The death penalty shall not be inflicted on a person under 18 years
of age, unless otherwise provided by the law in force at the time of
the commission of the crime.
2. The death penalty shall not be carried out on a pregnant woman
prior to her delivery or on a nursing mother within two years from
the date on which she gave birth. In any case, the interests of the
infant shall prevail.
1. No one shall be subjected to physical or mental torture or to cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
2. The State Parties shall protect every person in their territory from
being subjected to such practices and take effective measures to pre-
vent such acts. The practice thereof, or participation therein, shall be
regarded as a punishable offense. Each victim of an act of torture is
entitled to a right to compensation and rehabilitation.
No medical or scientific experimentation, or use of organs shall be car-
ried out on any person without his free and informed consent about the
consequences resulting from it. Ethical, humanitarian and professional
rules shall be complied with. Medical procedures in conformity with the
relevant laws of each State Party aiming to ensure the concerned person’s
security shall be respected. The market of human organs is prohibited
under all circumstances.
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2006]ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2004153
1. Slavery and slave trade in all their forms shall be prohibited and
punishable by law. No one shall, under any circumstances, be held in
slavery or in servitude.
2. Forced labor, human trafficking for prostitution or sexual exploita-
tion, the exploitation of others for prostitution and any other form
of exploitation, as well as exploiting children during armed conflicts,
All persons are equal before the law and have a right to enjoy its pro-
tection without discrimination.
All persons are equal before the courts. The State Parties ensure the
independence of the courts and the protection of judges against interfer-
ence, pressure or threat. All persons within the territory of the State Par-
ties are ensured a right to legal remedy.
1. Everybody has the right to a fair trial in which sufficient guarantees
are ensured, conducted by a competent, independent and impartial
tribunal established by law, in judging the grounds of criminal
charges brought against him or in determining his rights and obliga-
tions. State Parties shall ensure financial aid to those without the
necessary means to pay for legal assistance to enable them to defend
2. The hearing shall be public other than (except) in exceptional cases
where the interests of justice so require in a democratic society
which respects freedom and human rights.
1. Every individual has the right to liberty and security of person and
no one shall be arrested, searched or detained without a legal
2. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and
in accordance with such procedures as are established by law.
3. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed at the time of arrest, in a
language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest, and
shall be promptly informed of any charges against him. Anyone who
is arrested has a right to contact his relatives.
4. Anyone who has been deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention
is entitled to be subjected to a medical examination, and shall be
informed of such right.
5. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought
promptly before a Judge or other officer authorized by law to exer-
cise judicial power, and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable
time, or to release. The release may be subject to guarantees to
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154BOSTON UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL[Vol. 24:147
appear for trial. It shall not be a general rule that persons awaiting
trial shall be held in custody.
6. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be
entitled to proceedings before a court, in order that a court may
decide without delay on the lawfulness of his arrest or detention,
and order his release if the arrest or the detention is not lawful.
7. Anyone who is the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall be
entitled to compensation.
There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided by a previ-
ously promulgated law. The accused shall benefit from subsequent legis-
lation if it is in his favour.
The accused shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty at a lawful
trial. During the investigation and the trial, the accused shall be entitled
to the following minimum guarantees:
1. To be informed promptly and in detail, in a language which he
understands, of the nature and cause of the charge against him.
2. To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his
defense and to contact his relatives.
3. To be tried in his presence in front of a judge, and to defend himself
or through legal assistance of his own choosing or with the assis-
tance of his lawyer, with whom he can freely and confidentially
4. To have free legal assistance of a lawyer to defend himself if he does
not have sufficient means to pay for his defense, and if the interests
of justice so require. To have the free assistance of an interpreter if
he cannot understand or speak the language of the court.
5. To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him, and to
obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf
under the same conditions as witnesses against him.
6. Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess to guilt.
7. If convicted of a crime, to have his conviction and sentence reviewed
by a higher tribunal according to law.
8. To have the security of his person and his private life respected in all
Each State Party shall ensure to all children deemed “at risk” and juve-
nile persons accused of an infraction the right to a special legal regime for
minors during the length of the hearing, the trial, and application of judg-
ment. Such special treatment shall be appropriate for their age, protect
their dignity and promote their rehabilitation, and allow them to play a
constructive role in society.
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2006]ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2004155
No one shall be imprisoned on the ground of his proven inability to
meet a debt or fulfil any civil obligation.
1. No one shall be tried twice for the same offense. Anyone against
whom such proceedings are brought shall have the right to challenge
their legality and to demand his release.
2. Anyone whose innocence has been established by a final judgment
shall be entitled to compensation for damages suffered.
1. Persons sentenced to a penalty of deprivation of liberty shall be
treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of
the human person.
2. Accused persons shall be separated from convicted persons and
shall be subject to treatment appropriate to their status as uncon-
3. The essential aim of the penitentiary system is the reformation and
social rehabilitation of prisoners.
1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with
his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to unlawful attacks
on his honor and reputation.
2. Everyone has a right to the protection of the law against such inter-
ference or attacks.
Everyone shall have the inherent right to recognition as a person
before the law.
Each State Party to the present Charter shall ensure that any person
whose rights or freedoms recognized in the present Charter are violated
shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has
been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.
Every citizen has the right to:
1. Freedom of political activity.
2. Take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely
3. Stand for election and to choose his representative in free and fair
elections under conditions guaranteeing equality between all citi-
zens and ensuring the free expression of the will of the electorate.
4. The opportunity to gain access, on general terms of equality, to pub-
lic service in his country under equal conditions of opportunity.
5. Form associations with others and to join associations.
6. Freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
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156BOSTON UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL[Vol. 24:147
7. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other
than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are neces-
sary in a society that respects freedom and human rights, in the
interests of national security or public safety, public order, the pro-
tection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and
freedoms of others.
Persons belonging to minorities shall not be denied the right to enjoy
their own culture, to use their own language or to profess and practise
their own religion. The law shall regulate the exercise of such rights.
1. Every person lawfully within the territory of a State Party shall,
within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and free-
dom to choose his residence in accordance with applicable
2. An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party may be expelled
only in pursuance of a decision reached according to the law and
shall, except where compelling reasons of national security other-
wise require, be given the possibility of having his case reviewed by
a competent authority. Collective expulsions are prohibited in all
1. No one shall be arbitrarily or unlawfully prevented from leaving any
country, including his own, nor prohibited from residing, or com-
pelled to reside, in any part of his country.
2. No one shall be expelled from his country or prevented from
Everyone shall have the right to seek political asylum in other coun-
tries to escape persecution. This right shall not be enjoyed by persons
facing prosecution for an offense under ordinary criminal law. Political
refugees shall not be extraditable.
1. Every person has the right to a nationality, and no citizen shall be
deprived of his nationality without a legally valid reason.
2. The State Parties shall undertake, in accordance with their legisla-
tion, all appropriate measures to allow a child to acquire the nation-
ality of his mother with regard to the interest of the child.
3. No one shall be denied the right to acquire another nationality in
accordance with the applicable legal procedures of his country.
1. Every person shall have the right to freedom of thought, belief and
religion, which may be subject only to such limitations as are pre-
scribed by law.
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2006]ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2004157
2. Freedom to manifest or practice one’s religion or beliefs or to per-
form rituals, either individually or in community with others, shall
be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are
necessary in a tolerant society that respects freedoms and human
rights, to protect public safety, public order, health or morals or the
fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
3. Parents and legal guardians are guaranteed the freedom to ensure
the religious and moral education of their children.
Everyone has a guaranteed right to own private property. No person
shall under any circumstances be divested of all or any part of his prop-
erty in an arbitrary or unlawful manner.
1. The present Charter shall ensure the right to information, freedom
of opinion and freedom of expression, freedom to seek, receive and
impart information by all means, regardless of frontiers.
2. Such rights and freedoms are exercised in the framework of society’s
fundamental principles and shall only be subjected to restrictions
necessary for the respect of the rights or reputation of others and for
the protection of national security or of public order, health or
1. The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society, founded
by the marriage of a man and a woman. The right of men and
women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be
recognized. No marriage shall be entered without the full consent of
the intending spouses. The law in force shall regulate the rights and
responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its
2. The State and society provide for the protection of the family and its
members, for the strengthening of its bonds. All forms of violence
and abusive treatment in the relations between family members,
especially towards women and children, shall be prohibited. The
State and society undertake to provide outstanding care and special
protection for mothers, children and the elderly. Young persons
have the right to be ensured maximum opportunities for physical
and mental development.
3. The State Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administra-
tive and judicial provisions to ensure the protection, survival and
well-being of children in an atmosphere of freedom and dignity. The
best interest of the child, in all circumstances, serves as the basis for
all measures taken, whether the child is a juvenile delinquent or a
child “at risk”.
4. The State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to
young persons the right to engage in sports activities.
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158BOSTON UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL[Vol. 24:147
1. Every citizen shall have the right to work. The State undertakes to
ensure employment for as many employment seekers as possible,
while ensuring maximum state production, and the freedom to work
and equality of opportunity without discrimination of any kind as to
race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, affiliation to a
trade union, national or social origin, handicap or other status.
2. Every worker shall have the right to the enjoyment of just and
favourable conditions of work which provide for: a fair wage
allowing workers to sustain a decent living for themselves and their
families, limitation of working hours, rest and periodic holidays with
pay, safe and healthy working conditions, the protection of women,
children and handicapped persons in the workplace.
3. State Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from
economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely
to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be
harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or
social development. To this end, and having regard to the relevant
provisions of other international instruments, State Parties shall in
a. Provide for a minimum age of employment.
b. Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions
c. Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure
the effective enforcement of the present article.
4. No distinction between men and women shall be made in the exer-
cise of the right to benefit effectively from training, employment,
protection of work, and equal pay for work of equal value and
5. Every State Party shall ensure protection to workers migrating to its
territory in accordance with its laws.
1. Every individual shall have the right to form trade unions, become a
member of a trade union and to freely exercise trade union activity
to defend his interests.
2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of this right other
than those imposed in conformity with law and which are necessary
in the interests of national security, public safety, public order, the
protection of public health, morals or the rights and freedoms of
3. Each State Party shall ensure the right to strike provided that it is
exercised in conformity with its laws.
The State Parties shall ensure the right of everyone to social security,
including social insurance.
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2006]ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2004159
The right to development is a fundamental human right. All State Par-
ties shall establish development policies and take measures to ensure this
right. They must give effect to the values of solidarity and cooperation
among them and, at the international level, to eliminate poverty and
achieve economic, social, cultural and political development. In accor-
dance with this right, every citizen shall have the right to participate in
the development, and contribute to and enjoy the benefits, of their goods
and fruits of their labor.
Everyone shall have the right to an adequate standard of living for
himself and his family, ensuring well-being and a decent life, including
adequate food, clothing, housing, services and a right to a safe environ-
ment. The State Parties shall take appropriate measures within their
available resources to ensure the realization of this right.
1. The State Parties shall recognize the right of everyone to the enjoy-
ment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental
health and the right of every citizen to enjoy free and non-discrimi-
natory access to health services and health care centres.
2. The steps to be taken by the State Parties shall include those neces-
a. Develop basic healthcare and ensure the free and non-discrimi-
natory access to the services of health care centres.
b. Make every effort to fight disease by means of prevention and
cure in order to reduce mortality.
c. Take action to increase awareness and promote health
d. Fight against traditional practices which are harmful to an indi-
e. Ensure basic nutrition and clean water for everybody.
f. Fight environmental pollution and supply sanitation systems.
g. Fight against tobacco, drugs, and psychotropic substances.
1. The State Parties undertake to ensure that mentally or physically
disabled persons should enjoy a decent life, in conditions which
ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate their active par-
ticipation in society.
2. The State Parties shall provide social services free of charge to all
disabled persons, including material support for those in need,
directly or through their family to enable the family to provide for
them and do all necessary to keep them out of an institution. In all
cases, the disabled person’s best interest will be taken into account.
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3. The State Parties shall take all necessary measures to fight disability
by all possible means, including preventive health programmes,
awareness-raising efforts and education.
4. The State Parties shall provide all educational services suitable for
disabled persons, taking into account the importance of integrating
these persons in the educational system, the importance of profes-
sional training and preparation for pursuit of a professional activity,
and the creation of suitable job opportunities in public or private
5. The State Parties shall provide all health services for disabled per-
sons, including rehabilitation services, to integrate them into society.
6. The State Parties shall ensure to disabled persons access to all public
and private collective services.
1. The eradication of illiteracy is a binding obligation and every citizen
has a right to education.
2. The State Parties ensure free primary and fundamental education to
their citizens. Primary education, at the very least, shall be compul-
sory and shall be made easily accessible to all.
3. The State Parties shall, in every domain, take the appropriate mea-
sures to ensure partnership between men and women to reach the
goals of development.
4. The State Parties shall ensure an education aimed at the total fulfil-
ment of the human being and the strengthening of respect of human
rights and fundamental liberties.
5. The State Parties shall work to promote the principles of human
rights and fundamental liberties through educational programs and
activities, educational methods and training programs, both official
6. The State Parties shall ensure the establishment of mechanisms nec-
essary to ensure primary education to all citizens, and shall establish
national plans for the education of adults.
1. Every person shall have the right to take part in cultural life, and to
enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and their applications.
2. The State Parties shall respect freedom of scientific research and
creativity, and shall ensure the protection of moral and material
principles linked to scientific, literary or artistic production.
3. The State Parties shall work together and reinforce cooperation
between them at all levels, with full participation of intellectuals and
inventors and their organizations, in order to expand and implement
recreational, cultural, artistic and scientific programs.
Nothing in the present Charter shall be interpreted as impairing the
rights and freedoms protected by the State Parties’ own laws, or as set out
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in international or regional instruments of human rights that the State
Parties have signed or ratified, including women’s rights, children’s rights
and minorities’ rights.
Where not already provided for by existing legislative or other mea-
sures, the State Parties undertake to adopt, in accordance with their con-
stitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Charter, the
necessary laws or other measures in order to give effect to the rights rec-
ognized by the present Charter
1. There shall be established, pursuant to the present Charter, an Arab
Human Rights Committee, hereafter referred to as « the Commit-
tee ». The Committee shall be composed of seven members elected
by secret ballot by the State Parties to the present Charter.
2. The Committee shall consist of nationals of the State Parties to the
present Charter, who shall be highly experienced persons competent
in the Committee’s field of work. The members of the Committee
shall serve in their personal capacity with full impartiality and
3. The Committee shall not include more than one person from the
same State Party. Such member shall be eligible for re-election only
once. The principle of rotation shall be strictly observed.
4. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a four-year
term. However, the terms of three of the members elected at the
first election shall expire at the end of two years, with the names of
these three members chosen by lot.
5. Six months before the date of the election, the Secretary General of
the League of Arab States shall invite the State Parties to submit
their candidates over a three-month period. He shall give them the
list of candidates two months before the date of the election. The
candidates who obtain the most votes will be the elected members of
the Committee. If, because two or more candidates have an equal
number of votes, the number of candidates with the largest number
of votes exceeds the number required, a second ballot will be held
between the persons with equal numbers of votes. If the votes are
again equal, the member or members shall be chosen by lot. The
first election of the Committee’s members shall take place no later
than six months after the Charter comes into force.
6. The Secretary General shall convene the State Parties to a meeting
dedicated to the election of the members of the Committee at the
Headquarters of the League of Arab States. The majority of the
State Parties shall constitute a quorum. If the quorum is not
reached, the Secretary General shall convene a new meeting where
a third of the State Parties shall constitute a quorum. If the quorum
is still not reached, the Secretary General shall convene a third
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meeting which will take place without regard to the number of State
7. The Committee’s first meeting shall be convened by the Secretary
General. During this meeting, the Committee shall elect its chair-
man from its members, for a two-year term renewable for one fur-
ther term of two years. The Committee shall establish its own statute
and rules of procedure and shall determine how often it shall meet.
The Committee shall hold its meetings at the headquarters of the
League of Arab States. It may also meet in any other State party to
the present Charter at that party’s invitation.
1. The Secretary-General shall declare a seat vacant after being noti-
fied by the Chairman of the Committee in case of:
c. If, in the unanimous opinion of the other members, a member
of the Committee has ceased to carry out his functions for any
acceptable cause or for any reason other than a temporary
2. When a vacancy is declared in accordance with subparagraph (1),
and if the term of office of the member to be replaced does not
expire within six months of the vacancy, the Secretary-General of
the League of Arab States shall notify each of the State Parties to
the present Charter, which may within two months submit nomina-
tions in accordance with article 45 for the purpose of filling the
3. The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States shall prepare a
list in alphabetical order of the persons thus nominated and shall
submit it to the States Parties to the present Charter. The election to
fill the vacancy shall then take place in accordance with the relevant
4. A member of the Committee elected to fill a vacancy declared in
accordance with subparagraphs (1) shall hold office for the remain-
der of the term of the member who vacated the seat under the provi-
sions of those subparagraphs.
5. The Secretary-General shall award on the budget of the League of
Arab States the necessary financial resources, staff and facilities for
the effective performance of the functions of the Committee. The
members of the Committee shall be considered, regarding remuner-
ation and reimbursement of expenses, as experts of the Secretariat.
The States Parties undertake to ensure that members of the Committee
shall enjoy the immunities necessary for their protection against any form
of harassment, moral or material pressure or prosecution on account of
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2006]ARAB CHARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2004163
the positions they take or statements they make while carrying out their
functions as members of the Committee.
1. The State Parties shall submit reports to the Secretary-General of
the League of Arab States on the measures they have taken to give
effect to the rights and freedoms recognized in this Charter and on
the progress made towards the enjoyment thereof. The Secretary-
General shall transmit these reports to the Committee for its
2. The State Parties shall submit an initial report to the Committee
within one year from the date on which the Charter enters into
force, and a periodic report every three years thereafter. The Com-
mittee may request the States Parties to supply it with additional
information relating to the implementation of the Charter.
3. The Committee shall study in public the reports submitted by the
States Parties under paragraph b) of this article in the presence and
with the collaboration of the representative of the State Parties
whose report is being considered.
4. The Committee shall examine the report, comment thereon and
make the necessary recommendations in accordance with the aims
of the Charter.
5. The Committee shall submit an annual report containing its com-
ments and recommendations to the Council of the League, through
the intermediary of the Secretary-General.
6. The Committee’s reports, concluding observations and recommen-
dations shall be public documents which the Committee shall dis-
1. The Secretary General of the League of Arab States shall submit the
present Charter to the State Parties once approved by the League
for signature, ratification or accession.
2. The present Charter shall enter into force two months after the date
of the deposit of the seventh instrument of ratification with the Sec-
retariat of the League of Arab States.
3. After its entry into force, the present Charter shall become effective
for each State two months after the State in question has deposited
its instrument of ratification or accession with the secretariat.
4. The Secretary General shall inform the State Parties of the deposit
of each instrument of ratification or accession.
Any State Party may propose an amendment to the present Charter
and file it in writing with the Secretary General. Upon notification of the
amendments to the other State Parties, the Secretary General shall con-
vene the State Parties to examine the amendments for approval prior to
the submission to the Council of the League for adoption. .
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Amendments shall come into force and be binding on those State Par-
ties which have accepted them when they have been approved by two
thirds of the State Parties to the Charter.
Any State Party may propose supplementary protocols to the present
Charter, which shall be adopted according to the same process as fol-
lowed for the adoption of amendments to the Charter.
1. Any State Party, when signing this Charter, depositing the instru-
ments of ratification or accession, may make a reservation to any
article of the Charter, provided that such reservation does not con-
flict with the aims and fundamental purposes of the Charter.
2. Any State Party that has made a reservation pursuant to paragraph
a) of this article may withdraw it at any time by addressing a notifi-
cation to the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.
3. The Secretary General shall notify the State Parties of reservations
made and petitions for withdrawal.