You are here: Statement on the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in central London

7 October 2019

UNA-UK has a long track record of campaigning for urgent action to prevent climate change. We produce an annual publication, Climate 2020, which provides a space for experts and practitioners to discuss ongoing attempts to limit global warming.

We see this as an integral part of our mission. UNA-UK exists to build a safer, fairer and more sustainable world through our support for an effective United Nations and for global cooperation. Ugent coordinated action to prevent the ongoing destruction of our climate is a fundamental requirement for building such a world.

UNA-UK therefore fully supports the first two demands of the Extinction Rebellion: that the government must tell the truth about the scale of the climate emergency and act immediately to halt biodiversity loss and limit greenhouse gas emissions - these demands are logical extentions of UNA-UK's own advocacy on climate change.

Further, our Together First campaign is looking to champion reforms on a global scale to open up our systems of government to the public and make transformational change a possibility. The Extinction Rebellion's third and final demand: that governments should create and be led by the decisions of Citizens’ Assemblies on climate and ecological justice, would be a very good example of such a reform, and indeed the Extinction Rebellion were kind enough to contribute an essay on this subject to the Together First blog and upcoming report.

As an organisation based in Whitehall, at the heart of the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations, UNA-UK is therefore determined to live up to our values, by enabling individual staff members to participate in demonstrations as they see fit, and by pledging - in our shortly to be published strategic plan for 2019-21 - to become a net-carbon-zero charity.

UNA-UK also urges the Government and police forces of the United Kingdom to be mindful of the fact that its attitudes to these demonstrations will reflect upon the UK's global standing in UN forums, and its credibility when aspiring to global leadership. The right to peaceful demonstration is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and overseen by such mechanisms as the UN's Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Any curtailment of this right, or heavy handed police action, will do considerable damage to the UK's international reputation and ability to influence discussions on these vital global issues. This is particularly important as the UK will host the crucial conference of parties of the Paris Climate Agreement (COP26) in Glasgow towards the end of 2020. 

Photo: Extinction Rebellion protestors occupy Whitehall, London on the first day of October's International Rebellion. Credit: UNAUK/Enyseh Teimory