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Dear Team at the Center for Economic and Social Rights,

As we approach the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), we are writing to draw your attention to the urgent need for a careful consideration of the gravity of the upcoming event and the responsibility that lies in the hands of all participating parties. As such, we urge the Center for Economic and Social Rights to join us in calling for a boycott of COP28, which is scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in light of the troubling facts surrounding the current state of affairs in the country and the highly controversial appointment of a state-run oil company chief to lead the UN climate talks.

We would like to bring to your attention some important matters that have raised serious concerns:

  1. We would like to bring your attention to Dr. Sultan Al Jaber's election as the president-elect of COP28. Dr. Al Jaber's appointment as CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has sparked debate. The choice of Sultan al-Jaber sends the incorrect message to those most affected by climate change. It's also a letdown for those looking for quick progress on lowering carbon emissions and delivering climate justice at COP28.
  2. This selection has also called into question the validity of the talks as well as the UAE's genuine objectives. Climate campaigners, including Greta Thunberg, have raised concern, calling the UAE's appointment "completely ridiculous." Furthermore, Tasneem Essop, Executive Director of Climate Action Network, remarked that the nomination is "tantamount to a full-scale capture of the UN climate talks by a petrostate national oil company & its associated fossil fuel lobbyists."
  3. Aside from the contentious appointment of the president-elect, the UAE's history of human rights violations must be reviewed. The country has a long history of imprisoning human rights defenders and campaigners, most notably in the UAE94 case, in which 94 lawyers, university lecturers, and students were convicted to ten years in prison for attempting to overthrow the government. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations have voiced concern about the torture and torturing of these activists in detention by UAE authorities.
  4. The UAE was responsible for dozens of new and continued arbitrary detentions. The authorities refused to release at least 41 prisoners who completed their terms during the past year, bringing the total number, including those from previous years, to 48. All 41 were part of the 2012-2013 "UAE-94" mass trial. The government described such detentions as ongoing "counselling" for those who had "adopted extremist thought," a measure authorized under Article 40 of the 2014 counter-terrorism law. The statute compels the Office of Public Prosecutions to acquire a court order for such detentions, but it does not offer the detainee the ability to contest their ongoing detention.
  5. It is worth noting that the UAE's COP28 presidency has been actively lobbied in the European Parliament and the United Nations by UAE lobbyists. Climate campaigners, notably Greta Thunberg, have expressed alarm about the impact of fossil fuel lobbyists on the negotiations. Following the UAE's previous lobbying efforts, ADNOC raised $2.5 billion in an IPO before of COP28, which has been interpreted as a move to assert the UAE's dominance in the fossil fuel market.In light of these concerns, we request the Center for Economic and Social Rights to consider the issues raised above and reflect on the true intentions of the UAE’s COP28 presidency. It is essential that we work towards a sustainable future and combat the very real threat of climate change, but we must do so in a way that is fair, just, and equitable.

As a result, I respectfully propose that the Center for Economic and Social Rights skipping COP28 in order to send a strong statement that we will not tolerate a conference that appears to be dominated by the interests of a petrostate national oil firm and its allied fossil fuel lobbyists.


Thank you for your attention to this important matter.



Skyline International Foundation for Human Rights