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How to protect your information and stay safe at COP28

The UN Climate Change Conference takes place in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023. COP28 is a crucial opportunity to reboot and refocus the international climate agenda.

Activists and advocates travelling to COP28 need to be aware that political rights and civil liberties are severely limited in the United Arab Emirates. There is no freedom of assembly or free and independent media, NGOs are restricted, and human rights defenders face harassment and detention. Likewise, internet freedom is significantly restricted in the country, where there is extensive online censorship and widespread surveillance of activists and journalists. The UAE also has a poor record with respect to women’s rights, reproductive rights, and LGBTQIA+ rights.

Global Climate Legal Defense (CliDef) has published a guide for climate advocates and activists attending COP28‭. In the first part of the Guide to United Arab Emirates Law and Holistic Security at COP, CliDef provides ‬information about the legal framework‭ ‬and available resources to navigate the local legal landscape in the UAE‭. In the second part, CliDef has partnered with Open Briefing to set out an‭ ‬overview of personal safety and information security issues‭, ‬with comprehensive suggestions for how to protect your information and remain safe before‭, ‬during‭, ‬and after COP‭28. This includes considerations around burner devices, personal documentation, support networks, protecting your devices, and cultural sensitivities.

There are important steps in the guide that you can follow to reduce the risk to you while in UAE. These include:

  1. Set your information security foundation.
  2. Take information security measures with respect to your data.
  3. Ensure your personal documentation is in order.
  4. Travel with the right insurance.
  5. Think about the clothing and other things that you are taking with you.
  6. Establish your support network.
  7. Prepare yourself to face identity-based questions and address cultural sensitivities.

We hope that this guide will enable activists‭, ‬advocates‭, ‬and others attending COP28‭ ‬to make informed decisions about their actions while in the UAE‭.‬

Alongside this, Open Briefing is again participating in the COP Safety Hub. Between 28 November and 14 December, activists at risk can request support from the Safety Hub Hotline at +49 177 684 4896 and [email protected]. Outside those dates, activists at risk can contact Open Briefing directly for holistic security support through our rapid response mechanism.

There are more strategies to increase your digital and physical security and support your wellbeing while at COP28 in our Holistic Security Protocol for Human Rights Defenders.