200+ civil society organizations raise concerns about UAE rights record and climate policies ahead of COP28

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Amnesty International and over 200 civil societies organizations called on the participating governments of the 28th Conference of the Parties to take action against the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) human rights record and climate policies. The COP28 is an annual meeting of governments around the globe to discuss climate policy. It will run from November 30, through December 12, 2010. The civil society organizations in their public statement call on participating governments to use the COP28 platform to bring to light the human rights abuses committed by the UAE. These violations span across six different aspects, including:

the use of spyware and surveillance technologies that violated the right to privacy;

the imprisonment of Emirati human rights defenders, civil society activists and political dissidents;

  1. the enactment of laws that discriminate against women;
  2. the enactment of laws that criminalize LGBTQ+ individuals;
  3. the lack of protections for migrant construction workers at the site of the COP28 facilities; and
  4. abuses by armed groups in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
  5. Reuters reported that the UAE denied the allegation and claimed that the UAE will permit all COP28 visitors to protest peacefully. The UAE also contended that it is one of the most tolerant and diverse nations with its constitution provides the right to freedom from discrimination.
  6. Recently, in August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) also published another joint statement with similar demands to the Wednesday statement. HRW demanded the release of human right defenders in the statement, which was released ahead of COP28. HRW noted that at least 58 activists are still being held, despite having served their sentence. The UAE’s Federal Law on Combating Terrorism Offences has a vague, overly-broad definition of terrorism that is the basis for indefinite detention. The Palestinian BDS National Committee also called for a boycott of the COP28 to put pressure on the UAE government.

Outside of the UAE’s continuous human rights violations, Wednesday’s statement also draws attention to the UAE’s greenwashing campaign and plan to significantly increase state oil and gas production. Sultan al-Jaber is the President of the COP28 Climate Negotiations and also the Chief Executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. This state-owned oil firm. In a public statement, the government participants are urged to resolve this conflict to achieve the COP28 objectives. Since May 2023, Sultan al-Jaber has been in the spotlight for his dual position. US Congress members and EU Parliament members wrote to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and Joe Biden of the US to urge them to withdraw the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber.