Tag Archives: global warming

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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A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics, and the Problem of Moral Corruption (S. Gardiner)

Author(s)

Stephen M. Gardiner

Keywords

intergenerational ethics, moral corruption, global warming, tragedy of the commons, game theory, global environment

Abstract

The peculiar features of the climate change problem pose substantial obstacles to our ability to make the hard choices necessary to address it. Climate change involves the convergence of a set of global, intergenerational and theoretical problems. This convergence justifies calling it a ʻperfect moral stormʼ. One consequence of this storm is that, even if the other difficult ethical questions surrounding climate change could be answered, we might still find it difficult to act. For the storm makes us extremely vulnerable to moral corruption.

Citation

(2006) 15 Environmental Values 397-413

Paper

A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics, and the Problem of Moral Corruption

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Avoiding Adaptation Apartheid: Climate Change Adaptation and Human Rights Law (M. J. Hall and D. C. Weiss)

Author(s)

Margaux J. Hall and David C. Weiss

Keywords

developing countries, United Nations, global warming, impacts of climate change, poverty, adaptation, climate consequences, human rights law, culpability

Abstract

There is now little doubt that humans will be forced to adapt to the impacts of a warming world. There is also little doubt that the poorest people in the poorest countries will bear most of the burden of adapting to climate consequences they had almost no role in creating. As the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has explained, “In the Netherlands, people are investing in homes that can float on water. The Swiss Alpine ski industry is investing in artificial snow-making machines,” but “[i]n the Horn of Africa, ‘adaptation’ means that women and young girls walk further to collect water.” In the Ganges and Mekong Deltas, “people are erecting bamboo flood shelters on stilts” and “planting mangroves to protect themselves against storm surges.” A final adaptation strategy in the Mekong? “[W]omen and children are being taught to swim.”

Despite these sobering realities, the question of whether climate change implicates human rights law at all has been relatively unexplored until recently. In 2007, for example, the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the primary report from the United Nations-chartered body responsible for reviewing and assessing information on climate change—scarcely mentioned human rights in nearly 3,000 pages of analysis. However, multiple actors have begun to close this analytical gap: small island states and indigenous populations have claimed in a variety of international fora that climate change has threatened the human rights of their people; an increasing number of academic commentators have worked to explain how climate change issues implicate human rights law; and in 2009, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued the first UN report addressing the links between climate change and human rights.

The increasing incorporation of human rights law in climate change analysis is important, and the efforts to link climate change and human rights law have shifted from asking whether there is such a connection to examining the implications of the relationship. This recognition that climate change implicates human rights is significant because it provides a tangible legal framework for analyzing state actions that lead to climate change. Indeed, because the primary blame for climate change lies with the developed states that have caused the problem, and because human rights analyses are typically centered on state action, human rights provides a lens through which to analyze developed countries’ culpability.

Citation

(2012) 37 Yale Journal of International Law 309.

Paper

Avoiding Adaptation Apartheid: Climate Change Adaptation and Human Rights Law

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Climate-Induced Community Relocations: Creating an Adaptive Governance Framework Based in Human Rights Doctrine (R. Bronen)

Author(s)

Robin Bronen

Keywords

climigration, migration, climate change, displacement, climate refugees, southern hemisphere, global warming, ecology, humanitarian crisis, indigenous communities, Arctic, disaster relief

Abstract

The specter of millions of people fleeing their homes because of climate change has sparked an international debate about creating human rights protections for climate refugees. Though scholars and journalists have focused on the southern hemisphere, this crisis is occurring with unprecedented rapidity in the Arctic. In Alaska, temperatures have increased at twice the rate of the global average. Arctic sea ice is decreasing and permafrost is thawing. These ecological phenomena are creating a humanitarian crisis for the 200 indigenous communities that have inhabited the Arctic for millennia. Dozens of these communities are threatened because of climate-accelerated erosion, flooding, and extreme weather events. The traditional responses of hazard prevention and disaster relief are no longer protecting communities despite millions of dollars spent on erosion control and flood relief. Community relocation is the only feasible solution to permanently protect the inhabitants of these communities. This article describes the steps that federal, state, and tribal governments have taken to relocate Newtok, one of at least twelve indigenous communities in Alaska that need to relocate due to climate change. The policy and practical challenges to relocate the community are enormous and clearly demonstrate that new governance institutions need to be designed to specifically respond to climate-induced relocation. This Article ultimately proposes the creation of Guiding Principles of Climigration outlining key human rights principles that can guide an adaptive governance framework. This framework, in turn, will allow government agencies to transition their humanitarian response from protection in place to community relocation.

Citation

(2011) New York University Review of Law and Social Change 35 (2)  357

Paper

Climate-Induced Community Relocations: Creating an Adaptive Governance Framework Based in Human Rights Doctrine

 

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The Public Health Impact of Global Environmental Problems and the Role of International Law

Author(s)

Sumudu Atapattu

Keywords

environment degradation, public health, international law, human right to health, global warming

Abstract

Discusses the impact of global environmental degradation on public health. Role of international law in relation to the public health impact of global environmental problems; Human right to health; Depletion of the ozone layer; Global warming.

Citation

(2004) 30 American Journal of Law and Medicine 283.

Paper

The Public Health Impact of Global Environmental Problems and the Role of International Law

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