In an extraordinary move, reflecting the Arabian Peninsula’s worst diplomatic dispute in decades, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt have expelled Qatari nationals and imposed an air and sea blockade against Qatar because of its alleged support of terrorist organizations. In June 2018, Qatar filed suit against the UAE at the International Court of Justice, alleging discrimination in violation the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This Article explores the problem of forced expulsion and the utility of formal judicial redress at the level of the ICJ. Borrowing from the frame analysis of Erving Goffman, this clash portrays the dispute in terms of ceremonial performance (dramaturgy) that better suggests its removal to softer, more discursive forums for dispute settlement, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”). Although already described as a major victim of this dispute, the GCC may better preserve the dynamics of purposeful negotiation involving a situation that bears resemblance to a family feud as much as a clash of state interests. This dispute highlights the expanding problem of nationality, migration, and human rights in an age of terror, and the limits but need of informal international legal means to best frame meaningful solutions to an expanding problem. The twentieth century’s experience with the problem of forced migration indicated the need for international legal reforms. The current problem on the Arabian Peninsula signifies clearly that the project to address the issue continues. This Article explores the problem of forced expulsion and the utility of formal judicial redress at the level of the ICJ. After reviewing the history of hospitality and expulsion, this Article factors into the discussion the motivational fear of terrorism and frames the discussion against the backdrops of competing UAE and Qatari claims. The utility of litigating this case before the ICJ is then assessed in terms of substance and dramaturgy, leading to a reconsideration of the value of a soft law solution, perhaps in a way that can reinvigorate the GCC, which has been badly damaged by the dispute.



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