Rights groups have censured the United Nations for its decision to co-host a forum next month with a non-profit foundation established by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, citing the kingdom’s dire human rights record.
Joyce Bukuru, an advocacy officer for Human Rights Watch (HRW), told the Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal on Friday that the UN should not be promoting the heir to the Saudi throne, who has overseen the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the abuses of the war on Yemen, and a “vicious domestic repression campaign that includes the alleged torture of women’s rights activists.”
“The UN shouldn’t be rewarding this behavior with such partnerships,” she added.
Bin Salman’s MiSK Foundation — in partnership with UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake — will hold an event, dubbed the Misk–OSGEY Youth Forum, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on 23 September.
The forum will bring together 300 young people, who are committed to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), almost a year after the assassination of Khashoggi.
Mandeep Tiwana, a program officer for the Civicus rights group, denounced the UN’s decision to partner with the Riyadh regime as “disturbing.”
“Young people in Saudi Arabia are completely denied the right to join their counterparts around the world in public mobilizations for gender equality and climate justice, which are key elements of the SDGs,” he said.
The cooperation between the Saudi crown prince’s foundation and the UN’s youth envoy comes amid widespread criticisms about the Riyadh’s heavy-handed crackdown on dissidents.
Khashoggi — an outspoken critic of bin Salman — was killed by a Saudi hit team inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018.
The CIA has concluded that bin Salman had ordered the murder of Khashoggi — who had been brutally dismembered inside Riyadh’s mission.
In June, Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, presented findings of her six-month investigation into Khashoggi’s murder case, backing up Ankara’s views on the murder and the CIA findings.
In her 101-page report, she said that there is “sufficient credible evidence” indicating that the Saudi crown prince bears responsibility for the murder and thus should be investigated.
Bin Salman is also the architect of the protracted brutal war on Yemen that has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.