The American University in Cairo Center for Migration and Refugee Studies Database
Legal Instruments
Statistics and Figures
    United Arab Emirates

  Legal Instruments   

This section provides a list of international conventions and regional/bilateral agreements to which each country is a signatory, as well as national legislation that deals with movement, migration, asylum and human rights. Each listing includes a PDF/ link to a publically accessible document of the convention/law mentioned.
  International Conventions:

General International Law

Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 24 April 1963 (entered into force 19 March 1967) 596 U.N.T.S 261.

Ratified 1977



International Criminal Law 

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 10 December 1984 (entered into force 26 June 1987) 1465 U.N.T.S. 85 [CAT].

Ratified 2012


Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000 (entered into force 15 December 2000) 2237 U.N.T.S 319 [Palermo Protocol]

Ratified 2009



United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000 (entered into force 29 September 2003) 2225 U.N.T.S 209.

Signed 2002, Ratified 2007



International Human Rights Law

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 18 December 1979, 1249 U.N.T.S 513 [CEDAW].

Ratified 2004 


Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 7 March 1966, 660 U.N.T.S 195 [CERD]. Ratified 1974   PDF

Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, 18 December 1990 (1 July 2003) 2220 U.N.T.S. 3 [Migrant Workers Convention].



Convention on the Rights of the Child
, 20 November 1989, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3 [CRC].

Ratified 1997



Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/217 A (III), 10 December 1948, Art 14. [UDHR].



International Humanitarian Law/Law of war

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, 12 August 1949 (entered into force 21 October 1950) 75 U.N.T.S. 31 [First Geneva Convention].

Ratified 1972

Link to Conv.

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, 12 August 1949 (entered into force 21 October 1950) 75 U.N.T.S. 85 [Second Geneva Convention].

Ratified 1972

Link to Conv.


Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 12 August 1949 (entered into force 21 October 1950) 75 U.N.T.S. 135 [Third Geneva Convention].
Ratified 1972
Link to Conv.

Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949 (entered into force 21 October 1950) 75 U.N.T.S. 287 [Fourth Geneva Convention].

Ratified 1972

Link to Conv.

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, 8 June 1977 (entered into force Dec. 7, 1978.) 1125 U.N.T.S. 3 [Protocol I].

Ratified 1983

Link to Protocol.

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, 8 June 1977 (entered into force 7 December 1978) 1125 U.N.T.S. 609 [Protocol II].

Ratified 1983

Link to Protocol



International Labor Law

ILO Convention C 111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (1958).

Ratified 2001

Link to Conv.


ILO Convention C 29 Forced or Compulsory Labour Convention (1932).

ratified 1982

Link to Conv.


ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration (2005).

Link to Framework


International Trade Law

General Agreement on Trade in Services, 15 April 1994  (entered into force 01 January 1995), L336, p. 191 [GATS].



Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) (Movement of Natural Persons), 16 October, 1995 (entered into force 26 July 1996), L167, P. 43 [Protocol III] PDF


  Regional and Bilateral Agreements:

Regional Agreements

Charter of the Gulf Cooperation (1981)
Link to Charter

EU and Gulf Countries Cooperation Agreement addresses cooperation in trade in services, Article 1 and 2 (1988).

Economic Agreement between Gulf Cooperation Countries addresses issues on labor migration and rights of mobility within the gulf countries (2004).

Agreement among the Gulf Cooperation Countries on jurisdictions (1997).

Arab Charter of Human Rights (1994).
Ratified 2007
Link to Charter


Irregular Migration & Readmission Agreements 
None currently listed 


Labor Agreements 

Agreement with Nepal on Manpower (2007). 
Center for the Study of Labour and Mobility; PDF_English

Cooperation Labor Agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Egypt (1988).

Social Security Agreements 

Social Security Agreement between Yemen and UAE (2005)


Other Relevant Agreements 

Memorandum of Understanding between Dubai Foundation for Women and Children and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2016)

  National Legislation:

 Migration and Labour 

Federal Law no. 10 of 1975 concerning amendment of certain articles of the nationality and passports law No. 17 of 1972

Federal Law No. 6 for 1973 concerning immigration and residence

Federal law No. 17 of 1972 concerning nationality, passport and amendments thereof

Labor Law (1980). The national Labor Law of 1980 [The Federal Law No. (8) of 1980] deals with issues of migration and work, including in Articles 10, 13, 14, 15, and 16

 Ministerial Order No. 57 of 1987 deals with the licensing of mediation and recruitment, and supply of non-national labor

Ministerial Order No. 52 of 1989 contains 16 articles. Prohibits the employment of foreigners under 18 years of age and above 60 years of age. Exceptions may be granted for the maximum age limit, but not for the minimum age limit where special expertise is needed

Ministerial Order No. 13 of 1991  discusses the organization of the transfer of non-national laborers from one job to another and of sponsorships from one employer to another

Ministerial order No. 467 of 1995 to amend Ministerial Resolution No. 52 of 1989 which was issued to outline the rules and procedures which should be followed int he departments of work permits for recruiting Expatriate labour to work in the State

Federal Law No. 13 for 1996 Concerning Aliens Entry and Residence, Amending Some Provisions of the Federal Law No. 6 for 1973 Relating to Immigration and Residence

Executive Council of the UAE Order No. 3, 2002 Specifies the conditions under which a foreigner is allowed to be employed in the UAE, including types of contracts, salary, benefits and residence. It also specifies, inter alia, holidays, sick leave, maternity leave and health insurance.

Law No. 41 of 2005, Cabinet Resolution on Employment Quotas in Trade Sector 

Law No. 42 of 2005, Cabinet Resolution on Employment Quotas in Insurance Sector

Law No. 43 of 2005, Cabinet Resolution in Employment Quotas in Banking Sector

Law No. 72 of 2007, Cabinet Resolution treating GCC Nationals at par with UAE Nationals (except for Emiratization quota)

Administrative Circular No. 77 of 2005 includes necessary procedures for assigning work permits for foreign workers through the Ministry of Labour

Ministerial Resolution No. 370 of 2005 discusses the conditions for acquisition of temporary work assignment permit valid for 90 days

Ministerial Resolution No. 500 of 2005 discusses the conditions on which the cancellation of labor card is based

Ministerial Resolution No. 724 of 2006 on the administrative cancellation of sponsorship 

Ministerial Resolution No. 764 of 2006 in regards to the applications of replacing foreign workers 

Ministerial Resolution No. 707 of 2006 regarding the rules and procedures of conducting business in the state for non-citizens

Ministerial Resolution No. 444 and 812 of 2006;Ministerial Resolution No. 968 of 2009 amending Ministerial Resolution No. 444 of 2006; and Ministerial Resolution No. 604 of 2007 regarding the rules and procedures for fee exemptions of late issuance or renewal of labor cards 

Ministerial Resolution No. 636 of 2008 regarding the amendment of Ministerial Resolution No. 707 of 2006 concerning the rules and procedures of employment in the State for non-nationals 

Ministerial Resolution No. 788 of 2009 on wage protection 

Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 25 of 2010 concerning internet work permits applicable in the Ministry of labour

Ministerial Resolution No. 1186 of 2010 on the rules and conditions for granting a new work permit to an employee after termination of the work relationship in order to move from one establishment to another 

Ministerial Resolution No. 1188 and No. 1189 of 2010 on the regulations and conditions for the issuance of domestic work permits 

Ministerial Resolution No. 1283 of 2010 on the licensing and regulation of private recruitment agencies 

Ministerial Resolution No. 1215 of 2005 on registering the nationals of Gulf Cooperation Council countries working in the private sector 

Ministerial Resolutions No. 1215 of 2005, 4 of 2007 and 635 of 2008, and Ministerial Circular No. 3 of 2007 on the employment of GCC nationals 

Ministerial Decision No. 386 of 2006 on the balance of nationalization quotas for private sector 

Ministerial Decision No. 95 of 2006

Ministerial Decision No. 377 of 2014 amending provisions of the implementing regulations of Federal Law No. 6 of 1973 concerning the entry and residence of foreigners

Ministry of Labor Decree No. 765 of 2015 on rules and conditions for the termination of employment relations
Link to Decision

Ministerial Decree No. 764 of 2015 on Ministry of labor approved standard employment contracts
Link to Decree


 Smuggling and Trafficking 

Federal Law no. 1 of 2015 amending some provisions of Federal Law no. 51 of 2006 on combating human trafficking

Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 on combating human trafficking crimes

  Statistics and Figures:   

This section provides links to regularly updated sites that provide statistics on migrants and refugees in different countries around the world.

Below are links to various databases that provide statistics and figures relevant to the movement of people in and out of the United Arab Emirates:  

The World Bank 

UNFPA Migration Indicator 

UNHCR Statistics Database 


This section includes a comprehensive list of sources and links to journal articles, books, webpages, etc. for each country in the database that address migration and refugee topics within the context of education, health, legal, psychosocial, political, among others. Each listed source includes a brief description of the material and a link.


Link to Researchers

 Vlieger, Antoinette. Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates: a Socio-legal Study on Conflicts. Hugo Sinzhemimer Institute. 2011. Link to PDF

Keyword: domestic workers, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, socio legal, conflict

From the perspective of sociology of law, This thesis discusses the factors that impact the conflicts between female, migrant, domestic workers and their employers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The research finds that while some employers might treat their domestic workers fairly, others trap them in the country. The research finding replies on quantitive and qualitative methodology to address the question. 

Halabi, Romina. "Contract Enslavement of Female Migrant Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates." Human Rights & Human Welfare. Link to PDF

Keyword: female, women, migrants, gender, domestic workers, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, protection, labor rights

This brief report provides an overview of the surge of migrant domestic workers to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It address the human rights abuses and dire living conditions that face migrant workers throughout the recruitment and employment periods, as well as avenues for protection. 

Degorge, Barbara. "Modern Day Slavery in the United Arab Emirates." European Legacy 11.6 (2006): 657-666. Link to Article

Keyword: Slavery, Kalafa system, UAE, modern slavery 

This paper explores three forms of slavery in the UAE, the exploitation of children, sexual enslavement of women and the migrant workers who enslave themselves. The author compares the data on modern day slavery to the history of this ancient institution and to the current definition of slavery conceding that there needs to be greater awareness of the scope and nature of slavery to abolish it. 

Mahdavi, Pardis. "'Trafficking' Parenting: Migration, Motherhood, Forced Labor, and Deportability in the United Arab Emirates." Middle East Law and Governance 5.1 (2013): 173-194. Link to Article 

Keyword: trafficking, migration, motherhood, women, female, forced labor, UAE, parenthood, pregnancy, host country 

This paper, first, explores the role of parenthood in the lives of migrant women in the context of human trafficking; second, looking at how becoming a parent in the host country structures a discourse and series of actions that can lead migrant women into trafficking-like situations. The mythology of this study is based on four years of ethnographic research in the UAE between 2007-2011 contrasting women's experiences of parenthood while in Duabi and Abu Dhabi with discourses about migrant women's bodies, sexualities and reproduction capabilities. 

Mahdavi, Paradis . "Gender, Labour, and the Law: the Nexus of Domestic Work, Human Trafficking, and the Informal Economy in the United Arab Emirates." Global Networks 13.4 (2013): 425-441.  Link to Article 

Keyword: gender, female, women, labor, migrants, law, legal, domestic work, human trafficking, informal, economy, UAE

The article documents the movement of women from formal economy of domestic care to the informal sector of sex work. Following an ethnographic fieldwork with women migrants in the UAE on trafficking, domestic work and gendered migration in the UAE, the author explores the three main findings of the research. First, sex work and domestic work are not mutually exclusive; second, sex work is preferred to domestic work for better working conditions; third, policies on human trafficking that aims at restricting female migration have pushed women to seek employment in the informal economy. 

Keane, David and Nicholas McGeehan. "Enforcing Migrant Workers' Rights in the United Arab Emirates." International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 15.1 (2008): 81-115. Link to PDF

Keyword: migrant, workers, human rights, UAE, slavery, bonded labor, international law, national law

This article provides an analysis of the failure to protect migrant workers' rights in the UAE on a domestic and international scale. The author outlines abuses against workers, the failure of domestic legislation to readdress it, as well as violations of international human rights law. The author argues that the UAE's exploitation of migrant labor is bonded labor and that domestic labor provisions in the UAE will not be sufficient to address the issue because of the de facto control of the private sector by the public sector. 

K.C, Zachariah, B.A. Prakash, and S. Irudaya Rajan. "The Impact of Immigration Policy on Indian Contract Migrants: The Case of the United Arab Emirates." International Migration 41.4 (2003): 161-173. Link to Article 

Keyword: immigration, policy, Indian contract migrants, UAE

This paper examines the immigration policies of the UAE and the implications of these policies on Indian contract workers. 

Lori, Noora. "National Security and the Management of Migrant Labour: A Case Study of the United Arab Emirates." Asian and Pacific Migration Journal 20.3/4 (2011): 315-337. (Summary adapted from resource) Link to Article

Keyword: national security, management, migrant labor, policy, UAE, policy 

This article explores the main institutional developments in the UAE within the past twenty years assessing, in particular, how the security apparatus is deployed by the state for managing the criminal and cultural impact of expatriates on the national body politic. Within this context, the author focuses on the different agencies of the UAE's Ministry of Interior roles in responding to the demographic changes and in developing preemptive policing strategies that include community policing, extensive surveillance network and increasingly individualized and standardized forms of identification. 

Caplin, Jessica. "Mirage in the Desert Oasis: Forced Labor in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates." Harvard International Review 30.4 (2009): 28-33. Link to Article

Keyword: forced labor, Dubai, UAE, desert oasis, mirage 

This article focuses on the issue of trafficking and forced labor in the UAE, and how the two phenomena converge. The author traces this trend from recruitment to employment arguing that the labor involved in developing the UAE is forced, trafficked labor. 

 Shah, Nasra N. "Restrictive Labour Immigration Policies in the oil-rich Gulf: Effectiveness and Implications for sending Asian countries." Link to Article

Keyword: labor, immigration, policies, oil-rich, gulf, Asia, sending, development

An overview of the GCC's immigration policies and the implications of immigration on sending Asian countries is examined in this paper. 


Fisher, Betsy. “Gender Discrimination and Statelessness in the Gulf Cooperation Council States.”, 23 Mich. J. Gender & L. 269, 312 (2016) Link to Journal

Keyword: gender, nationality, children, mother, law, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

"Using the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as a case study, this Article outlines the ways in which gender and birth status discrimination create new cases of  statelessness. These occur when women are legally unable to convey their nationality to their children. This Article studiesgenderand birth status discrimination  nationality laws and in civil registration, family, and criminal law in each GCCstate: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.  Ending statelessness will require these states to end discriminationagainst women and non-marital children in all of its forms in law and practice." 


 UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "Global Action Plan to End Statelessness." UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2014). Link to Article 

Keyword: born, gender, protection, documentation 

                        “To End Statelessness within 10 years, the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014-2024 establishes a guiding framework of 10 Actions to be undertaken  by States with the support of UNHCR and other stakeholders to: resolve existing major situations of statelessness, prevent new cases of statelessness from  emerging and better identity and protect stateless populations.”