The highest UN court ruled on Monday that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) discriminated against Qataris during last year's blockade.
The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, imposed an unprecedented diplomatic freeze of Qatar in June 2017, in which it blocked transport and severed diplomatic ties, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region. Qatar has denied the allegations as "unjustified" and "baseless."
According to Monday's ruling by the United Nation's International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UAE must immediately reunite Qatari families affected by the blockade and allow Qatari students to continue their education in the UAE.
The ICJ's provisional order is part of Qatar's lawsuit filed last month, claiming the UAE "enacted and implemented a series of discriminatory measures directed at Qataris based expressly on their national origin," resulting in alleged violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), to which both countries are signatories.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt are not signatories of the CERD convention.
The discriminatory measures included expelling thousands of Qatari citizens, prohibiting Qataris from traveling through the UAE, and limiting "the rights of Qataris to any speech deemed to be in support of or opposed to the actions against Qatar," according to the ICJ.
The ICJ is expected to schedule a further proceeding in the case at a future date. Its order will remain in effect until the Court issues its final judgment on the merits.
Both Qatar and the UAE have welcomed the ruling.
"This is just the first step in a long struggle to vindicate our rights, but it sends a strong early signal to the UAE that its actions will not be tolerated. Qatar will now press forward, and we trust the UAE will meet its international obligations and comply with the Court's order in the meantime," spokeswoman for Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah Al Khater said in a statement.
The UAE said it was already implementing the procedures ordered by the court.
"The summary of the International Court of Justice decision today addressed what is known as the provisional measures and the judges' rejection to the Qatari demands and called for three measures concerning families, student and access to litigation, which the United Arab Emirates has executed in accordance to its national regulations after the steps taken by the four nations against Doha," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a post on Twitter.
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