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The Role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Interaction and Engagement with International Human Rights Law on Improving and Developing Its Human Rights Law

ALHARBI, DHOHA,AMEED,A (2019) The Role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Interaction and Engagement with International Human Rights Law on Improving and Developing Its Human Rights Law. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has been heavily criticised for not following international human rights law (IHRL) norms, yet a closer examination of changes in the Kingdom in the period 1990 to 2016 show there has been a significant change in approach. This change has occurred even while KSA has maintained that it is only bound by IHRL norms consistent with Shari’ah (Islamic law). In this context, using an empirical examination, this thesis provides original insights into the processes by which the KSA’s engagement with IHRL influences its domestic law, and assesses the adequacy of existing theoretical models in explaining how international law influences a State’s law and practices. Having identified lacunas in the existing literature and empirical research base, this thesis considers four main questions: What changes have there been in the KSA’s law and practice that reflect a greater engagement with IHRL?; What are the factors to which key actors attribute these changes?; To what extent are the changes due to the KSA’s engagement with IHRL?; and Have the IHRL mechanisms been useful from the perspective of promoting and protecting women’s rights? In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with relevant stakeholders. The research found that there has been a significant change in the Kingdom’s approach of dealing with the IHRL: a number of developments in the KSA’s domestic law regarding women’s political and civil rights are the result of its interaction with IHRL, in particular its ratification of the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Alongside the role of IHRL, the study emphasises the role of the State’s policymakers in triggering the domestic changes that comply with international norms. The changes in domestic law were also attributed to other internal factors including political and social environment factors. The research concludes that the process of the interaction between the Kingdom and IHRL mechanisms is best explained by the transnational legal process model. Importantly, the study finds that the internalisation of the norms of IHRL into the KSA’s domestic law is more likely to be effective in relation to practices that are seen as influenced by cultural tradition rather than those practices that are viewed as having as basis in religion. This research recommends, because of the importance of Islamic law, further empirical research on the role of Muslims states’ interaction with IHRL on promoting human rights utilising mixed-methods approaches incorporating both large-samples of interviewees and further in-depth case studies.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Islamic law, Islamic shari'ah, IHRL,IL, the Kingdom of Saudi human rights law, women rights, domestic law.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Nov 2019 08:38

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