Human Rights, International Law, Human Right to a Healthy Environment, Environmental Protection, Inter-American Human Rights System, Indigenous People, Inuit
Climate change is threatening the traditional way of life for indigenous peoples and the Inter-American Human Rights System declines to combat this growing problem by refusing to acknowledge a right to environmental protection for indigenous peoples. The Inter-American Human Rights System has thus effectively cut off the possibility of remedying the harms suffered by indigenous peoples as a result of climate change. Because the problems that indigenous peoples face place them at the intersection of human rights and environmental law, an acknowledged right to environmental protection is crucial to their ability to sustain their customary way of life. Until recently, many scholars simply felt that a right to environmental protection did not exist. Inaction based on this assertion, however, becomes increasingly difficult to justify given the number of treaties, declarations, and decisions by domestic, regional, and international bodies specifically acknowledging such a right. Without acknowledging a right to environmental protection, and more importantly, without providing effective means to remedy environmental abuses in the international community, indigenous peoples will continue to be marginalized and ultimately may not be able to protect their time- honored way of life.
Using the Inuit tribe as a principal example, Part I of this paper will demonstrate the unique impact climate change has on indigenous peoples. Part I will begin by identifying the effects of climate change which already strain this indigenous community’s relationship with its traditionally inhabited land After mentioning the anticipated challenges the Inuit face in …
(2009) 19 Journal of Transnational Law and Policy 179