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Qatar seeks international arbitration to end blockade

Foreign ministry spokesman announces moves after UN report condemns blockade by Saudi, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Lulwah Al Khater

Qatar has begun seeking international arbitration in an attempt to end the blockade imposed by three of its Gulf neighbours and Egypt.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Lulwah Al Khater announced the moves on Wednesday, days after a UN investigation said the blockade was negatively impacting the people of the region.

"We have already begun moving internationally to seek arbitration or [go to] international courts or UN institutions" to end the blockade, Khater said in a press conference in Doha, the Qatari capital. "All options are available for us."

In November 2017, representatives from the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) visited Qatar, where they met with some 20 governmental and civil society groups, as well as people who had been affected by the blockade.

Following the mission's visit from November 17 to 24, OHCHR issued a report and sent a copy to the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar (NHCR).

"The report came from a neutral, international point of view and has important points," said Khater, noting that the blockade had caused material and moral damage to Qataris.

Last summer, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Doha and imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the Gulf state.

The quartet accuses Qatar of funding "extremist" groups and being too close to its regional rival, Iran, accusations the Qataris vehemently deny.

Earlier this week, Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, head of NHRC, said the OHCHR study was proof the blockade is illegal.

"This report shows without a spec of doubt that these procedures undertaken by blockading countries are not mere diplomatic severing of relations, they are not just an economic boycott," he said.

"These are unilateral, abusive, arbitrary measures that are impacting citizens and expats in Qatar."


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