The Right to be Cold: Global Warming and Human Rights (M. Wagner)


Martin Wagner


Climate Change, Human Rights, Indigenous People, Inuit, The Right to Be Cold, Cultural Rights


The relationship between global warming and human rights is something that is beginning to be talked about now, but six or seven years ago no-one had made the connection.  I am going to explore the relationship through the context of some work I have done with the Inuit people of the Arctic regions of the world, and in particular a case that I have brought on their behalf. I want you to remember that this connection between global warming and human rights is not limited by any means to the people of the Arctic; there are potential human rights implications of global warming everywhere around the world.
So you have the Inuit culture that depends on the ice, snow and cold and you have the effects of global warming in the Arctic. It all raises the question: Is there a human right to be cold? Or to make it more global, is there a human right, for example, to be dry? Let me explain about why I think there is a connection between human rights and global warming. The first thing to remember is that international law and the international community recognise a special place for indigenous people in the community of nations and the special responsibility of nations. But in particular, international human rights recognises that there is a connection between indigenous people and the territory that they occupy and depend on for their livelihood and for their culture that is special and it needs to be
maintained and protected. That is relevant because many of the most vulnerable communities that are being affected first by global warming are indigenous communities.


(2007) in Human Rights 2007, The Year in Review, Smith and Contini (Eds) (Monash Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, 2008)


The Right to be Cold: Global Warming and Human Rights (Pre-Publication Conference Paper)