13.09.23 / COP28 / Press Release

200+ Organizations Calling on Governments to address UAE Human Rights Abuses Ahead of COP28

September 13, 2023

Rights groups across six continents say UAE cannot be given a free pass for its abysmal human rights record on the COP stage

Kyiv – Razom We Stand joined more than 200 organizations to demand that the international community pursue accountability for the UAE’s track record of repressive behaviour at home and abroad ahead of the COP28 climate conference. We underline that 

The global network of civil society organizations – comprised of human rights, climate justice, women’s rights, migrant rights, trade unions, and free speech organizations – released an open letter addressed to the participating governments at COP28, underlining that “climate justice and human rights are deeply interconnected – there cannot be one without the other." 

Razom We Stand endorsed the letter, considering UAE's expansion of economic cooperation with the Russian fossil fuel industry inadmissible as it contributes to war crimes and the massive suffering of people in Ukraine that occurs on a daily basis.

Razom We Stand calls on the UAE to respect human rights and disengage from economic cooperation with the criminal regime of Vladimir Putin. UAE must stop laundering of Russian blood oil and exploiting the refining loophole in international sanctions. The COP28 should provide grounds for equitable and just international action, which the world desperately needs in the face of climate emergency, the crisis of international security and the rule of law. Instead, we see that it is being captured by vested interests. Yet, we will not be silenced and we stand firm to confront the greed of the fossil fuel industry and the rule of petro-dictators”, - said Svitlana Romanko, founder and director of Razom We Stand.

Across the world civil society groups are deeply concerned that the legitimacy of the conference is at risk if human rights and civic space aren’t protected in the UAE, while the critical negotiations are being exposed to the massive influence of the fossil fuel industry and petro-dictators.

We are urging governments worldwide to:

  • Demand that the UAE not spy on COP28 attendees and end unlawful state surveillance that violates international human rights law and standards.
  • Call on the UAE to release all prisoners of conscience.
  • Demand action on UAE violations of women’s rights.
  • Condemn UAE violations of LGBTQI+ rights.
  • Call for workers’ rights reforms and reparations for forced labour at the site of COP28.
  • Urge the UAE to stop supporting human rights violators in Yemen, across the Middle East, in North Africa and in Ukraine.
  • Publicly repudiate UAE greenwashing and fossil fuel hypocrisy.

In February 2023 Razom We Stand joined other civil society organizations in condemning the decision by the UN to grant the presidency over the next UNFCCC climate change conference COP28 in UAE to Sultan Al Jaber, the head of the world’s 12th largest oil producer - Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. 

Razom We Stand remains firm on the earlier statement that instead of greenwashing big oil and legitimizing petrocracy, the UN must push an international mobilization to drive the contraction of the fossil fuel industry and to unlock the finance for the green energy revolution in line with the demands of the climate science.


[email protected]
Oleh Savytskyi, Campaigns Manager, Razom We Stand
[email protected]
Jason Kirkpatrick, Snr. Communications Mgr., Razom We Stand

Notes to editors:

Professional photos of Svitlana Romanko are available here, copyright-free unless otherwise noted on the image.

Ukrainian group Razom We Stand, founded at the beginning of Russia's war in 2022, campaigns to end the war by cutting Russia's exports of fossil fuels, has continuously advocated for a comprehensive and fully enforced embargo on Russian fossil fuels and works towards a green rebuilding of Ukraine with clean energy, for a better climate and better future. Learn more here: https://razomwestand.org/en/about-us