New Delhi: A group of UN independent human rights experts urged Egyptian authorities to ensure civil society can safely and fully participate in the COP27 UN climate change conference taking place there next month.
The group also expressed alarm over restrictions ahead of the summit.
Egypt is hosting COP27, which will be held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh from 6 to 18 November.
“Arrests and detention, NGO asset freezes and dissolutions and travel restrictions against human rights defenders have created a climate of fear for Egyptian civil society organisations to engage visibly at the COP27,” the experts said in a statement.
Egyptian NGOs have previously suffered harassment, intimidation and reprisals for cooperating with the UN, they added.
The five experts who issued the statement are all Special Rapporteurs, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
They underscored the essential role civil society plays in advancing climate action and urged Egypt to ensure safe and meaningful participation at the conference, including for independent groups.
“Instead of further limiting their rights, civil society actors and human rights defenders, including those working on climate rights, must be given an opportunity to raise awareness about their views and protection needs,” the experts said.
“We strongly believe that COP27, organised by the United Nations, should uphold the public’s right to participate in the conduct of public affairs, as recognised by Egypt.”
The experts have also backed calls by civil society for the UN climate body that oversees the conference, UNFCCC, to develop human rights criteria that countries hosting future COPs must commit to meeting as part of the host agreement.