Amnesty urges UAE to reform 'dismal rights record' ahead of COP28

Amnesty urges UAE to reform 'dismal rights record' ahead of COP28
Amnesty has urged world powers, who are due to meet in Bonn in early June, to put pressure on the UAE to improve its human rights record ahead of COP28.
3 min read
01 June, 2023
Amnesty has urged world powers to put pressure on the UAE ahead of COP28 [Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images]

Amnesty International has urged the countries participating in a 5 June climate meeting to pressure the United Arab Emirates - host of the COP28 climate summit later this year - to improve its “dismal human rights record” to ensure a successful event. 

The 5 June meeting, which will be held in Bonn, Germany, will help set the agenda for the UN’s COP28 climate summit in November this year, which is controversially being hosted by the UAE. 

“The Bonn conference paves the way for COP28, and the participants should use this opportunity to make clear to the UAE that it needs to change,” Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said according to a statement from the rights group. 

Amnesty identified several human rights risks in the UAE that could threaten COP28’s success, including the dangers of digital monitoring, suppression of freedom and expression, and Abu Dhabi’s reluctance to rapidly phase out from fossil fuels.

“A successful COP28 is vital, for human rights and for the planet,” said Heba Morayef, referencing the fact that the climate summit is the center of global efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change and keep the average global temperature increase to 1.5°C. 

“Yet the path to a conference that delivers these outcomes is endangered by the effective closure of civic space in the UAE, its known use of digital surveillance to spy on critics, and its resistance to the phasing out of fossil fuel production and use,” she added. 

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The summit’s choice of host has been widely criticised by rights groups and other organisations. Apart from the UAE’s poor human rights record, Abu Dhabi - which has a massive oil industry - has not committed to drastically reducing fossil fuel use. 

In addition, the UAE has appointed Sultan Al-Jaber, the chief of the state’s oil company, as the president of the conference. More than 130 lawmakers from the US and EU have written to the UN calling for his removal.