Freedom Forward presents former U.S. Ambassador Melanne Verveer with our Defending Dictators Award of Shame. 

This award “recognizes” Ambassador Verveer for partnering with the United Arab Emirates, a brutal dictatorship that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of women in Yemen and the imprisonment and torture of women in the UAE and abroad. As the executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, Verveer joined the repressive UAE monarchy to co-host an event supposedly dedicated to women’s advancement.

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security claims to “celebrate peacemakers,” yet the brutal dictatorship of the UAE continuously violates women’s rights, opposes democracy, and has brought suffering and misery to thousands through its war in Yemen. By partnering with the UAE, Ambassador Verveer has helped a repressive monarchy with the propaganda it needs to hide its widespread women’s rights violations. 

On November 10, 2020, Freedom Forward and 13 organizations called on Verveer to withdraw her institute’s participation from the UAE-backed “Advancing Women’s Participation in Post-Conflict Reconstruction” event. Unfortunately, Ambassador Verveer ignored our request and held the event. 

There are 7 reasons why no one should partner with the UAE’s brutal dictatorship:

  1. Discrimination: The UAE violates women’s rights through a legal system that discriminates against women.
  2. Torture and Imprisonment: The rulers of the UAE have wrongfully detained, tortured, and allowed women to die in their prisons. 
  3. Worker abuse: The UAE allows wide scale abuse of migrant domestic workers, many of whom are women, in a system that can amount to forced labor.
  4. Domestic Repression: The UAE monarchy has jailed and imprisoned human rights activists, restricted freedoms of the press and peaceful assembly, and criminalized same sex sexual activity.
  5. War in Yemen: The UAE has killed thousands of civilians and helped drive millions to the brink of starvation under an unlawful siege of Yemen’s borders, with particularly harsh effects on women and girls.
  6. Supporting Terrorists: The UAE have paid, protected, and even recruited terrorists, including Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen. 
  7. Opposing Democracy: The UAE denies citizens the right to choose their government in free and fair elections and has intervened against democracy in multiple countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Sudan, and Libya.

Instead of partnering with a misogynistic monarchy, Verveer should uphold the values of respect and freedom for all women —  Including those who suffer under the UAE’s policies:

  • All women includes Alia Abdulnoor who died in a UAE prison in 2019, just two months after the UN had called for her release. 
  • All women includes women who face extreme discrimination in UAE courts, including women seeking a divorce.
  • All women includes women in Yemen who have been starved or killed by the UAE-backed war in Yemen.

Please join Freedom Forward in presenting Ambassador Melanne Verveer with the Defending Dictators Award Of Shame. Ambassador Verveer is the second recipient of the Defending Dictators award, following our “award” to former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

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