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UAE Must Fulfil Its Legal Obligations Regarding al-Assad’s Invitation to COP28

We, at the Syrian British Consortium (SBC), express our shock and deepest concern for maintaining the invitation extended to Bashar al-Assad to attend the upcoming 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), hosted by United Arab Emirates (UAE). While we recognize the importance of international cooperation in addressing climate change, it is essential to uphold the principles of justice, accountability, and human rights in the process.

Bashar al-Assad has been implicated in severe human rights violations and war crimes, which led to an arrest warrant issued by French judges on Wednesday, 15 November 2023, against him and his brother Maher al-Assad over the use of banned chemical weapons against civilians in Syria.

We call upon the UAE, as the host state, to fulfil its legal obligations according to the 2007 France-UAE agreements for extradition of criminals and judicial cooperation in criminal matters by arresting and extraditing al-Assad. Allowing a regime with such a horrific record to participate in an international event alongside other world leaders risks normalizing and legitimizing the actions of a war criminal, undermining the very values that the Conference seeks to promote.

We also urge the delegations attending COP28 to address the catastrophic human rights impacts of the environmental crisis in Syria, particularly those systematically perpetrated by the Syrian regime. Those include the deliberate policy of forced displacement and the indiscriminate destruction of residential buildings, which not only inflicts untold suffering on innocent civilians but also contributes to irreversible environmental damage.

We call upon all environmental groups to use their influence to ensure that the environmental discourse at COP28 addresses the interconnectedness of human rights and environmental issues. It is imperative that we strive for a world where environmental sustainability is inseparable from the promotion and protection of human dignity and rights.

London,16 November, 2023.


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