Oman has acceded to three of the seven major United Nations conventions on human rights, namely: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (2003), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1996); the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (2005). Oman has also acceded to the two optional protocols of the Rights of the Child Convention concerning the involvement of children in armed conflicts, sale of children, and exploiting children in prostitution and pornographic materials (2000).
Oman has also acceded to four of the eight International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions concerned with human rights, namely: the two conventions (29 and 105) on Forced or Compulsory Labour (1998 and 2005 respectively); the two conventions (82 and 138) preventing the employment of children and minors (2005 and 2001 respectively).
Oman made reservations on some provisions of the conventions it acceded to:
- Rights of the Child Convention: general reservation on any obligations that are not consistent with Islamic law and with enforced Omani legislation, especially the provision on adoption (article 21). Another general reservation with regard to implementing the convention's obligations as far as available resources permit that. A reservation on article (7) pertaining to citizenship; Oman guaranteed granting its citizenship to babies born in Oman whose fathers are unknown, in accordance with its citizenship law. Reservation on article (l/4) concerning states commitment to provide information on family members in cases of separating the child from his parents as a result of a measure taken by the state, unless providing such information is not in the interest of the child. Oman requested the addition of the sentence "and if that affects public safety". Reservation on article (14) concerning a child's right to freedom of religion, and article (30) that allows children who belong to religious minorities to speak in public about their beliefs.
Oman has agreed to the "Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam" issued in 1990 by foreign ministers of Muslim countries. The declaration is a guiding document that does not require ratification. Oman also acceded to the "Arab Charter of Human Rights/Amended" prepared by the Arab Summit in Tunisia in May 2004, but did not ratify it like most Arab states.
Human Rights Institutions
The ministry of foreign affairs has a department that attends to human rights. A public directorate for women's affairs as well as several government centers for women's rehabilitation was established. In addition, special units on gender were established in various ministries. However, there are no national human rights institutions. Existing NGOs are confined to organizations that care for women, children and the disabled. One such NGO is the "Early Intervention Society for Children with Special Needs".
Achievements on the Road to Good Governance
1. The Sultan issued a decree on November 27, 2000 allowing all citizens over 21 years old to vote, thereby eliminating all previous restrictions that excluded the majority of citizens from voting.
2. On February 5, 2003, the government introduced amendments on the electoral law allowing women to participate in upcoming legislative elections. The amendments also provide for enhancing judicial supervision over all stages of the electoral process. On September 27, 2005 the Sultan issued a decree appointing a woman as an authorized ambassador to the United States, thereby recording the second such appointment after Oman's female ambassador to Holland in 1999. Omani women received great attention during the past few years as they were appointed to high level positions that included 4 female ministers and several women at the Council of State and the consultative council.
3. In 2003, Oman modified the jurisdiction of the state security court and its composition in a manner that made it almost similar to criminal courts in terms of legal procedures.
4. The government introduced into the school curricula courses that combat racial discrimination and enhance human rights mutual understanding and tolerance among groups and individuals of different racial and ethnic origins, as well as those who hold different religious beliefs.