Category Archives: Vulnerability

The Contribution of Human Rights as an Additional Perspective on Climate Change Impacts in the Pacific (S. Tully)

Author(s)

Stephen Tully

Keywords

Climate Change, Human Rights, Climate Impacts, United Nations, Pacific Islands, Resettlement, International Humanitarian Law, International Environmental Law, Environmental Refugees

Abstract

The adverse impacts of climate change include temperature variations, lost biodiversity and more frequent extreme weather events. In particular, low-lying Pacific Island countries and territories will be inundated if predicted sea level rises eventuate. These impacts threaten the continued enjoyment by Pacific Islanders of their fundamental human rights. Rising sea levels threatens their personal safety, continued good health, secure access to proper means of subsistence including food and water and the habitability of coastal settlements. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change encourages developed states to adopt measures that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and financially support adaptation activity undertaken by developing countries. However, several states lack the requisite political will, financial support is inadequate, adaptation measures are limited and small island developing states are becoming increasingly vulnerable. This article provides an overview of climate change impacts within the Pacific region in human rights terms. It argues that the strategy of adaptation, although consistent with the sustainable development agenda, is limited as an effective long-term response to sea level rise. It proposes an international framework that ensures, in the worst-case scenario, that affected individuals are relocated and resettled within other states. It draws upon existing and emergent legal regimes with respect to humanitarian assistance, natural disasters, maritime law concerning search and rescue, internally displaced persons, the environmental refugee concept and the obligations of interstate cooperation arising under international environmental law in the event of transboundary harm. This framework will be most effective if underpinned by the many positive contributions to be made by the paradigm for the protection of human rights.

Citation

(2007) 5 New Zealand Journal of Public International Law 175

Paper

The Contribution of Human Rights as an Additional Perspective on Climate Change Impacts in the Pacific

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Human Rights Violations and Climate Change: The Last Days of the Inuit People? (S. Nuffer)

Author

Sarah Nuffer

Keywords

human rights violations, climate change, Inuit, Arctic, vulnerability, responsibility, future generations, United Nations, native groups, indigenous people

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The climate is changing. There is little debate left with regard to this statement. However, the world is still grappling with what exactly this change means. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, recently stated that he is “convinced that climate change, and what we do about it, will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations.” 3 Global Climate Change (“GCC”) has the potential to affect the world’s most developed groups, however, the people whose lives will likely be changed most by GCC are those who have “contribute[d] the least to greenhouse emissions.” 4

One of the groups that will be most affected by GCC are the Inuit of the Arctic region. There is a large degree of certainty that the Arctic’s climate is changing and as a result the Inuit people are being forced to change their way of life, their cultural identity, and in some cases, they are being forced to leave their ancestral lands. While the Inuit people must pay the “highest price … [and] are directly threatened by these rapid climatic changes” 5 because of their traditional way of life, they contributed little to GCC. This unfortunate paradigm, that those most affected by GCC are not responsible for its creation, is a theme that runs tragically true for many native people that lead a traditional and near carbon-free life. This Note will explore the effects of GCC on the Inuit people …

Citation

(2010) 37 Rutgers Law Record 182.

Paper

Human Rights Violations and Climate Change: The Last Days of the Inuit People?

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Human Rights Obligations and Accountability in the Face of Change (M. Limon)

Author(s)

Marc Limon

Keywords

small island developing states, climate change, international human rights, obligations, accountability, global warming, vulnerable people

Abstract

In November 2007, Small Island Developing States, meeting in the Maldives, adopted the Male’ Declaration on the Human Dimension of Global Climate Change.’ The declaration laid down a roadmap for actions within the UN system designed to explore and draw attention to the relationship between global warming and the full enjoyment of human rights. In June 2009 the various steps foreseen in the Male’ Declaration reached their conclusion when the United Nations Human Rights Council (the Council or the Human Rights Council) held a dedicated interactive panel debate on the relationship between human rights and climate change during its Eleventh Session in June 2009.

The present time, therefore, offers an important opportunity to take stock of progress achieved since the Male’ Declaration was adopted, to assess the current situation, and to consider possible next steps. This Article will offer an assessment of what has been achieved by the rapidly evolving international agenda on human rights and climate change. It will do so by looking at how the international understanding of the complex and multifaceted relationship between climate change and human rights has evolved over the past one and a half years. This will entail an analysis of the degree to which the international community, through the process launched by the Male’ Declaration, has answered three crucial questions pertaining to the human rights climate change interface:

1. Is there a relationship between climate change and human rights, and if so, what is the nature of that relationship?

2. Does climate change constitute a violation of human rights, especially the rights of vulnerable people?

3. Irrespective of whether climate change represents a human rights violation, what are states’ national-level and international-level human rights obligations pertaining to climate change?

After assessing progress in addressing these three central questions, the Article will then move to propose possible next steps, on behalf of the international community, to further clarify the issues at hand and to transpose that understanding into actual mechanisms to better promote and protect human rights in the face of climate change.

This Article will focus solely on actions undertaken within the context of the United Nations Human Rights Council and related international human rights mechanisms. Although academia and non-governmental bodies have played a crucial role in the evolution of the human rights, climate change agenda, their contribution will not be covered here. Moreover, in analyzing progress, the Article will focus on the evolution of hard and soft law in the area, and not on the broader perceptional achievements of the human rights and climate change agenda. Notwithstanding this necessary (for reasons of space) omission, it is clear that such perceptional achievements (i.e., how seeing climate change through a human rights lens has changed the nature of the international conversation on the subject) have been extremely significant (and probably more so than legal achievements).

Citation

(2010) 38 Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law 543

Paper

Human Rights Obligations and Accountability in the Face of Change

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International Legal Avenues to Address the Plight of Victims of Climate Change: Problems and Prospects (T. Koiturova)

Author(s)

Timo Koivurova

Keywords

climate change, international environmental law, vulnerability, ecology, climate regime

Abstract

This Article argues that the current structure of international law makes it unlikely that victims of climate change will find justice through international legal proceedings. Part I examines the various international legal proceedings that could provide recourse for victims of climate change. Part II focuses on the only case that has proceeded to the submission stage, the above-mentioned Inuit petition to the IACHR. Importantly, the Inuit’s human rights petition is currently the best possibility for success in international litigation since evidence already exists that climate change has caused clearly identifiable damage to the Arctic environment.22 The Article concludes by analyzing the likelihood of successfully combating climate change by utilizing the legal mechanisms discussed in Parts I and II.

Citation

(2007) 22 The Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation 267

Paper

International Legal Avenues to Address the Plight of Victims of Climate Change: Problems and Prospects

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Editorial – The discourse of ‘biocultural’ rights and the search for new epistemic parameters: moving beyond essentialisms and old certainties in an age of Anthropocene complexity? (A. Grear)

Author(s)

Anna Grear

Keywords

climate change, biocultural rights, essentialism, antropocene discourse, climate vulnerability, epistemic parameters

Abstract

There can be little doubt of the multiple complexities facing law in the twenty-first century. Climate change alone presents a challenge of unprecedented global complexity for legal systems – a complexity arising, moreover, directly from the ‘complexity of the climate system [itself:] its myriad of parts, interactions, feedbacks and unsolved mysteries’. 1 In the face of such complexities, law’s traditional institutional silos and path-dependent responses (such as the institutional and doctrinal separation between, for example, human rights law and climate change law) seem increasingly exposed as inadequate.

Citation

(2015) 6 (1) Journal of Human Rights and Environment 1-6

Paper

Editorial — The discourse of ‘biocultural’ rights and the search for new epistemic parameters: moving beyond essentialisms and old certainties in an age of Anthropocene complexity?

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