Skyline asks the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) not to attend COP28 due to the UAE's significant human rights violations
Dear Team at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL),
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 International Environmental Law (CIEL) 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:
- 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.
- In its first inspection of the UAE, the UN Committee against Torture expressed "concern that reports received detail a pattern of torture and ill-treatment against human rights defenders and persons accused of offences against state security." Authorities imprisoned human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor in solitary confinement for a year and denied him access to glasses, books, a bed, mattress, and pillows, as well as personal hygiene materials.2 Such extended solitary confinement, especially when combined with cruel and inhuman treatment, is tantamount to torture.
- 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.
- 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.
- Contrary to the UN judgment that countries must begin cutting output to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change, to which the UAE is a party, the UAE increased oil production. According to World Bank data, the UAE has one of the top five highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions levels in the world.
As a result, I respectfully propose that the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) 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