Urgent demand for the Climate Action Network International to boycott COP28 due to the UAE's flagrant and ongoing breaches of human rights
Dear Team at the Climate Action Network International,
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 Climate Action Network International 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 authorities continued to deny members of the UAE's native-born stateless community, who had ancestors from East Africa, South Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula, access to the same state-funded healthcare and education as nationals. Emiratis who are stateless must pay for education and healthcare in the private sector. Stateless people were also required to locate "sponsors" in order to get temporary residency permits, without which they are considered "illegal residents" and are ineligible for higher-paying government jobs.3
- 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 Climate Action Network International 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