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International trade, human trafficking and jus cogens: opportunities for law reform in the Gulf Cooperation Council states of the middle east

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
The European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are strong trading partners. The relationship between the two geo-political regions led to negotiations towards a EU-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1988, based on mutual economic, and political interests; however, violations of the rights of migrant workers in the private sector in the GCC have resulted in suspended negotiations. This study considers the potential consequences of the FTA draft on labour rights and migration, focusing on the trafficking of persons, using the Palermo Protocol (2000) definition of human trafficking. Concentrating on the prevention of trafficking, the current sponsorship system (kafala) in the GCC is examined and areas for labour, criminal and (im)migration law reform are identified. Similar to slavery, human trafficking should be exclusively catalogued as a jus cogens norm in international law. This study involves a synthesis of documentary analysis and parallel study, using a combination of legislation in the GCC and media reports of violations of the rights of migrant workers. The research findings indicate that the kafala system is a mechanism by which trafficking of persons is state-enabled. This research also shows that, the FTA can be used to leverage law reform in order to eliminate the kafala system, utilising EU initiatives as a best practice. Recommendations are made for evidence-based reform in the GCC, to prevent trafficking for the purposes of exploitation, forced labour and slavery.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Griffiths, Curt
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etd8384_LBehbahani.pdf 1.92 MB

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