ECO Calls Out Saudi Arabia for Bullying Conduct, Parties for Their Silence

27 June 2019

Last Friday, ECO witnessed a negotiator from Saudi Arabia repeatedly bully and intimidate the female co-facilitator at the SBSTA informal consultations on SR1.5C. While a Party is entitled to express its views, this Saudi negotiator’s vociferous personal demands for an apology or admission of wrongdoing from the facilitator is entirely unacceptable€”and tantamount to bullying and harassment. 

What is more, no other Party in the room spoke out to oppose the Saudi conduct and stop the out-right harassment. 

Sadly, these moments where Parties freely intimidate others and bystander Parties remain silent are neither rare nor openly acknowledged during climate negotiations. It feeds into the pervasive and toxic culture of discrimination against women that the UNFCCC’s 2018 “Code of Conduct to address harassment at UNFCCC Conferences” was precisely designed to combat–and that we as a community do not tolerate. 

The Saudi negotiator’s behaviour and bystander Parties” silence are acutely problematic because they contravene the very values that the Paris Agreement espouses: equity, respect for human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women. As a climate community, practicing these values means standing up against bullying, harassment, and any other forms of abusive treatment and violence against women and all delegates within the walls of the UNFCCC space.

In response, civil society members have lodged a formal complaint reporting the Saudi negotiator to the UNFCCC for breaching the Code of Conduct regarding harassment, which explicitly expresses that meetings should be held in a professional, respectful and harassment-free environment. 

We, as civil society, do not tolerate such reprehensible aggression. The question remains whether other Parties will stand with us as well.

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