The G20 summit, which is supposed to be hosted by Saudi Arabia on November 21 and 22, is overshadowed by calls for a boycott from international human rights organizations and members of Congress.
The war in Yemen, the arrests, and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi are among the most prominent human rights organizations and bodies calling for a boycott of the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia.
Human Rights Watch called on the “G20” countries, before the summit, to pressure Saudi Arabia to release all those unlawfully detained, provide accountability for “grave violations,” and allow an independent international body to investigate Khashoggi’s killing.
The annual G20 summit event is viewed as the most prominent and important event in the global economy. It is a major forum for international economic cooperation, as it brings together leaders from all continents of the world representing developed and developing countries who meet to discuss financial, social and economic issues.
The importance of this group stems from the fact that the G20 member states, taken together, possess about 80% of the global economic output, and two-thirds of the world’s population live in their countries, and they account for three quarters of the volume of world trade.
The group, which was established at the level of finance ministers and central bank governors in 1999, has transformed after the global financial crisis in 2008 to the level of leaders of member states who held their first summit in Washington in the same year.
The G20 includes the United States, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Australia and the European Union.
Saudi Arabia assumed the presidency of the group in November 2019 for a year after the end of the previous summit, which was held in Japan.
The Kingdom will “hypothetically” host the G20 summit on November 21-22, amid calls from international organizations and members of the US Congress to boycott the summit.
There are expectations that the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, India and other countries will participate, along with other countries such as Turkey, Russia and China.
According to official statements and statements by Saudi officials, the “virtual” summit will discuss over two days, headed by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, basic files, including: discussing mechanisms for the recovery of the global economy, achieving market recovery, and strengthening the international trading system.
In addition to what is related to providing vaccines against Corona virus to all countries in a fair manner, and developing plans to confront any future pandemics.
It will also discuss challenges of food security, water management, climate change, and other issues related to women and youth, combating corruption, and more.
Saudi Arabia is facing widespread criticism from international human rights organizations, European parliamentarians and members of the US Congress who believe that it is not qualified to host an important global event such as this one in light of its record of violations, whether in the war in Yemen or the arrests of women, opinion leaders and human rights activists, In addition to the issue of the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul, and the direct responsibility of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to direct the assassination order.
And recently, 45 members of the US Congress, in an open letter, urged President Donald Trump’s administration not to participate in the G20 summit in Riyadh “unless Saudi Arabia immediately takes measures to improve its human rights record.”
The congressional message also spoke of the necessity of boycotting this summit “unless tensions over Khashoggi’s killing and the conflict in Yemen are resolved.”
The letter addressed to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that “the United States should withdraw from the G20 summit, unless Saudi Arabia makes fundamental changes to its poor human rights record.”
The congressmen’s message came days after 65 European lawmakers signed a letter calling on the European Union not to participate in the Riyadh summit, ”or at least to reduce its representation at the summit, explaining their request that“ flagrant violations of human rights are being committed ”in the Kingdom.
“Human Rights Watch” expressed its regret for holding this summit because “at a time when brave women are subjected to torture because of their peaceful activities, the Saudi government seeks to assert itself on the international stage as a reform force.”
The organization called on the “G20” countries to pressure Saudi Arabia to release all those unlawfully detained, provide accountability for “grave violations”, and allow an independent international body to investigate the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, before the group’s virtual summit.
Rights Watch believes that the G20 is strengthening the Saudi government’s well-funded propaganda efforts to portray the country as “reformist” despite the dramatic increase in repression since 2017.
There were many calls for a boycott of the summit by senior officials and parliamentarians in several countries.
The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, announced his boycott of participation in the Big Cities Summit, which is being held virtually on the sidelines of the group summit, and called on his colleagues in other cities of the world to boycott the summit.
According to Western media, the mayor of London, Siddiq Khan, recently joined the summit boycotters such as the mayor of New York, Los Angeles and Paris.
The European Parliament passed a resolution, with the approval of 413 deputies, 49 objections and 233 reservations, calling for the abolition of the European Union’s institutional and diplomatic representation at the G20 summit, in order not to legitimize Saudi Arabia’s impunity for human rights violations.
International non-governmental organizations have pledged to boycott the G20 summit in protest against Saudi Arabia’s human rights “record”.
Observers believe that the Corona pandemic prevented many world leaders from hosting the summit during the Saudi presidency, which missed great opportunities that the crown prince could have used to improve his image in front of world leaders and his senior officials, after his “direct” responsibility, according to the CIA, for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. As well as what is related to the gross violations of human rights in Yemen, which prompted several European countries to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in addition to human rights files and the repression targeting opinion leaders and civil society activists, especially women.
Riyadh denies the accusations that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, on October 2, 2018.
Saudi Arabia’s reputation suffers a lot in Western and American circles as a result of the files of the Yemen war and repression against critics of government policy and the crown prince, widespread arrests and responsibility for Khashoggi’s killing, in addition to foreign policy failures such as the blockade decision on the State of Qatar and diplomatic disputes with Canada, Germany, and others.
Therefore, it is believed that Saudi Arabia’s leadership of the group for a year was a valuable opportunity to improve its image in Western and American public opinion.
Before handing over the presidency of the summit on November 22nd, the crown prince is counting on investing in the virtual summit in Riyadh to show Saudi Arabia’s capabilities as an effective international player within a year of its presidency of the G20.
For more than two years, the Saudi crown prince has been trying to regain his position as a young leader of a country of international and regional weight, despite his involvement in Yemen and the suppression of voices opposing his policies at home and abroad.
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