As COP28 Opens, UN Should Take UAE to Task

As COP28 Opens, UN Should Take UAE to Task

Host Country Should Stop Rights Repression, Drop Fossil Fuel Plans.

The United Nations should urge the United Arab Emirates to end its human rights repression and eliminate its plans to expand fossil fuel production as countries begin negotiations at the annual UN climate conference in Dubai, Human Rights Watch said today. The UN should also urgently develop criteria for future COP hosts to ensure that civil society can meaningfully participate in global climate negotiations without fear of reprisals.

The UAE will host the 28th Conference of State Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from November 30 to December 12, 2023 in Dubai.

“Many climate activists traveling to COP28 are seriously concerned about their own safety in a host country that has jailed people based on their social media posts and makes protest effectively illegal,” said Richard Pearshouse, environment director at Human Rights Watch. “The UNFCCC needs to seriously reflect on how they’ve allowed global climate negotiations to take place in a country where civil society can’t demand ambitious action to phase out fossil fuels without self-censorship or fear.”

Climate activists fears of reprisals are not unfounded. On November 28, James Lynch, a founding co-director of the organization FairSquare, received confirmation that his visa application to attend COP28 was denied. The UAE’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs confirmed to Lynch via email that his application had been rejected. As of writing, Lynch has not received any updates from UAE authorities and it is unclear whether he will be granted entry. In 2015, Lynch, then Amnesty International’s acting head of business and human rights, was refused entry at Dubai airport because of his human rights work.

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