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Documents and Resources

HRC Resolutions on human rights and climate change

  • Resolution 7/23 (March 2008): The Council expressed concern that climate change “poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world” and requested the OHCHR to prepare a study on the relationship between climate change and human rights.
  • Resolution 10/4 (March 2009): The Council noted that “climate change-related impacts have a range of implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of human rights …” and that such effects “will be felt most acutely by those segments of the population who are already in a vulnerable situation ….”
  • Resolution 18/22 (September 2011): The Council affirmed that human rights obligations, standards, and principles have the potential to inform and strengthen international and national policy-making in the area of climate change, promoting policy coherence, legitimacy, and sustainable outcomes.
  • Resolution 26/27 (July 2014): The Council emphasized the need for all States to enhance international dialogue and cooperation to address the adverse impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights including the right to development. It called for dialogue, capacity-building, mobilization of financial resources, technology transfer, and other forms of cooperation to facilitate climate change adaptation and mitigation, in order to meet the special needs and circumstances of developing countries.
  • Resolution 29/15 (July 2015): The Council emphasized the urgent importance of continuing to address the adverse consequences of climate change for all and called for a panel discussion and analytical study on the impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of the right to health.
  • The Council has also addressed the issue of the impact of climate change in the framework of its work on human rights and the environment, particularly resolutions 16/11 (2011), 19/10 (2012), 25/21 (2014) and 28/11 (2015).
  • Resolution 32/33 (July 2016): The Council urged Parties to integrate human rights in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and called for a panel discussion on the adverse impact of climate change on the rights of the child to be held in the 34th session.

OHCHR Resources and materials

Activities and other resources

Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

The special procedures mechanisms of the Human Rights Council have regularly addressed the human rights impacts of climate change. The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment has been particularly engaged and issued a Climate Change mapping report of statements made by human rights mechanisms regarding human rights that are threatened by climate change, and human rights obligations related to climate change.

There have also been several joint advocacy efforts by special procedures mechanisms related to climate change. These include:

  • An Open Letter dated 17 October 2014 to State Parties to the UNFCCC from 28 Special Procedures mandates that urges the UNFCCC "to adopt urgent and ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures to prevent further harm" and to include in the 2015 climate agreement a commitment that "the Parties shall, in all climate change related actions, respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights for all, and to launch a work program to ensure that human rights are integrated into all aspects of climate actions." The Open Letter is available in English and French.
  • A joint statement drawing attention to the grave harm even a two degree Celsius increase in average global temperature would cause to the enjoyment of human rights issued on the occasion of World Environment Day 2015. The Special Rapporteurs urged climate negotiators to reach an agreement that reflects the obligations human rights law places on States to protect and promote human rights.
  • A report prepared by several Special Rapporteurs for the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of twenty countries that are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. On behalf of the Forum, the Philippines, the current chair, submitted the report, entitled “The Effects of Climate Change on the Full Enjoyment of Human Rights,” on 1 May 2015 to the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC. The Forum urged the COP to adopt a more ambitious target in the climate agreement currently under negotiation in order to avoid the devastating effects of a rapidly warming planet on the basic rights of all persons.