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


Sarah Nuffer


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



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 …


(2010) 37 Rutgers Law Record 182.


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