UN and UAE Urged to Protect Human Rights Before Climate Conference
The petition asks the UAE to take meaningful steps to address the human rights crisis.
A slew of civil society organizations has urged the UN, UAE, and state parties to ensure human rights protection before the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference 2023, also known as Conference of Parties (COP28), taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 30 November to 12 December 2023.
Led by CIVICUS – which is a global alliance of civil society organizations – a petition has been signed by various groups asking UAE to prioritize rights of most affected by climate crisis, allow dissent, and release illegally imprisoned activists.
The petition advises the UAE that as the host of COP28, it should lead by example and lift all restrictions that have been in place for years on the rights of Emiratis to express themselves, associate and assemble in line with international human rights frameworks.
“We ask the UAE to release all human rights defenders (HRDs), activists and journalists currently in detention,” the rights groups said in their petition.
According to CIVICUS, speakers from a pre-COP climate health Summit held in Abu Dhabi, reported that conference organizers advised speakers not to be critical of Islam, government, corporations and not to protest while in the UAE.
These pre-conditions, according to CIVICUS, reflect the abysmal state of civic space in the UAE and the attacks on HRDs, activists and journalists who have spoken about human rights issues. The statement defeats the purpose and intent of COP and may force some participants to self censor.
Among other recommendations, the UN and UAE are urged to allow the freedom of peaceful assembly before, during, and after COP28. They are also asked to recognize protests as a critical means for the civil society to articulate their concerns and proposals, especially for communities excluded in decision processes of the state parties during the conference.
The petition further asks the UAE to take meaningful steps to address the human rights crisis, lift restrictions on civic space and respect the right of freedom of expression, association, and assembly.