Report analyses role of human rights treaty bodies in enforcing States' duty to protect people from adverse impacts of climate change

In 2018, the human rights treaty bodies of the United Nations (UN) made an unprecedented number of recommendations to States concerning their legal obligations to protect people from the adverse impacts of climate change, according to a new report by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR).

The report, States' Human Rights Obligations in the Context of Climate Change - 2019 Update, reveals the increasing engagement of these UN human rights institutions on climate change and identifies how these bodies could play an important role in holding states accountable for their climate-related obligations in the future. In particular, the human rights institutions have increasingly stressed the importance of States acting on the root causes of climate change, such as the extraction and financing of fossil fuels. The 2019 update reviews the role of states in addressing human rights and climate change accross different human rights treaties and summarizes key statements relating to specific climate issues, such as emission reduction and international cooperation, from various human rights treaty bodies (HRTBs). 

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Article
4 April 2019

New Report Shows UN Human Rights Bodies Increasingly Concerned about Climate Change in 2018

Author: Center for International Environmental Law & Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Economic Rights

The report, "States' Human Rights Obligations in the Context of Climate Change - 2019 Update", reveals the increasing engagement of these UN human rights institutions on climate change and identifies how these bodies could play an important role in holding states accountable for their climate-related obligations in the future. In particular, the human rights institutions have increasingly stressed the importance of States acting on the root causes of climate change, such as the extraction and financing of fossil fuels... [The] report builds on this commitment and compiles all recommendations made in 2018 by the human rights treaty bodies regarding states’ climate-related obligations under human rights treaties..."This Synthesis Note will be useful for States in assisting them to identify and address their human rights legal obligations, with respect to climate change. This includes obligations across different human rights treaties and for different groups, such as women, children, and indigenous people, as well as obligations with respect to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the regulation of private actors," says Lucy Mckernan, Geneva Representative at GI-ESCR.

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Article
4 April 2019

Report: States’ Human Rights Obligations in the Context of Climate Change - 2019 Update

Author: Center for International Environmental Law & Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Economic Rights

In a synthesis note published in January 2018 (the 2018 Synthesis Note), the Center for International Environmental Law and Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provided a summary of authoritative statements by the [Human Rights Treaty Bodies (HRTBs) ] on climate change... several HRTBs have stressed the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women, children, and... have also consistently underlined the importance of international cooperation and of taking into consideration commitments made under environmental instruments such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change... [The 2019 Note] builds on the information in the 2018 Synthesis Note and compiles and summarizes the statements on climate adopted by the HRTBs in 2018 — a year which saw an unprecedented level of engagement by the HRTBs on this issue.

The 2019 Note contains three sections:

  1. a review of the role of the HRTBs in addressing human rights and climate change;
  2. an appraisal of the authoritative guidance provided by these bodies in 2018; and
  3. a summary of key statements relating to specific climate issues, such as emissions reduction, adaptation to climate impacts, procedural rights, and international cooperation.

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