Activists petition UN to stop organisations' misuse of COP27 to serve non-environmental purposes

Ahram Online , Wednesday 9 Nov 2022

A number of activists and politicians sent a petition on Wednesday to the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres calling on him to intervene to stop the misuse of the 27th UN Climate Change Summit (COP27) by some international groups and organisations to ‘serve goals that have nothing to do with environmental issues.’

People walk at the green zone of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, during the COP
People walk at the green zone of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt s Red Sea resort city of the same name, on November 9, 2022. AFP

“Unfortunately, just 48 hours after the start of the conference, the signatories of this statement were surprised to find some international groups and organisations trying to hijack the conference and to distance it from its real goals. These groups and organisations want to use the conference to serve goals that have nothing to do with environmental issues or the dangers of climate change,” they said.

Therefore, they called on Guterres to intervene to set the conference back on track so that it focuses exclusively on achieving international consensus on the protection of the environment and the climate.

This petition was launched in three languages: Arabic, English, and French.

It was launched a day after the removal of an Egyptian MP by UN security from a news conference held to discuss the status of imprisoned Egyptian political activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah.

The conference was being held on the sidelines of the 27th UN Climate Change Summit (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh.

During the news conference, at which Abdel-Fattah’s sister Sanaa was speaking to the press, security removed MP Amr Darwish after the parliamentarian, who was allowed an audience question, started criticising the “allegations” made by Sanaa regarding her brother's treatment in prison.

Abdel-Fattah has been serving a five-year sentence since 2019 for joining a terrorist group and spreading false news inside and outside the country.

Sanaa completed her own 18-month-long prison sentence in December after being convicted of spreading false news.

During the session, which was organised by the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, Darwish criticised Abdel-Fattah family for calling on other countries to put pressure on the Egyptian government to release an Egyptian citizen. He described such pressures as “interference in Egyptian affairs," saying that they shall neither be accepted nor tolerated.

“Contrary to the claims of his family, Abdel-Fattah is not a political prisoner, but faces criminal charges punishable by Egyptian law,” Darwish said. He added that Abdel-Fattah is hence unqualified to be recommended by the Presidential Pardon Committee to receive a pardon.  

Sanaa and the news conference organisers interrupted Darwish and demanded that he ask his question, shortly before UN security removed the MP from the room.

Later that day, Darwish released a video saying he was “surprised by the strange treatment [he had] received from the UN and the organisers of the conference, which contradicts Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights on freedom of speech.”

“We cannot call on foreign entities and the international community to solve Egyptian matters, especially by using false evidence and allegations to exonerate a proven criminal who committed felonies. In the end, I said that anyone can approach the Presidential Pardon Committee,” Darwish said in the video statement.

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