human rights, procedural rights, combating climate change, freedom of expression, right to access information, right to participate in decision-making, access to justice, transparency, indigenous people, jurisprudence, human rights treaties, multilateral environmental agreements, civil society participation
This Article will discuss how a subset of human rights – procedural rights – can play an important role in limiting climate change. These include freedom of expression and the right to seek and receive information, the right to participate in decision-making and the right of access to justice. States must address climate change through a transparent process of giving the public full and complete information during the early stages of decision-making in climate change related issues. States must also give the public a voice by allowing participation by all affected communities, including indigenous peoples.
In Part II, this Article will first discuss how freedom of expression and access to information are embedded in human rights treaties, multilateral environmental agreements, national constitutions and information laws, and in the jurisprudence of regional human rights and domestic courts, as well as national reporting and how these rights can be used for combating climate change. Part II will also briefly evaluate the right of investors to disclosure of climate risk information and the role of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in light of the agency’s new interpretive guidance on existing public company disclosure requirements relating to the issue of climate change.
In Part III, this Article will discuss public participation in decision-making related to climate change, first exploring the established legal framework for public participation in “soft law” MEAs, and in environmental impact assessments (EIAs), including the transboundary context. Part III concludes by providing case examples how procedural rights have been used to combat climate change. Finally, Part IV will evaluate the role of civil society participation in the negotiation of an international treaty at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Fifteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen, as well as the author’s participation in the Working Group on Human Rights and Climate Change.
(2010) 38 (3) Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law 613