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The 2010 Social Forum - Climate change and human rights

An aerial view of flooding in Pakistan which has displaced around 21 million people. © UN Photo/WFP/Amjad JamalIn his opening remarks to the Social Forum, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, the President of the Human Rights Council said that the social and human rights implications of climate change must be given greater priority.

The Social Forum is an annual event which provides a unique opportunity for Member States, civil society and intergovernmental organizations to discuss the global human rights challenges. This year the Forum focused on the relationship between climate change and human rights.

The Forum coincided with climate change talks being held in China ahead of a year-end meeting in Cancún in Mexico. Both rounds of negotiations aim to find sufficient common ground to enable a treaty on climate change.

Much attention at the Forum was directed to the upcoming Conference in Cancún. Anders Kompass speaking on behalf of the UN Human Rights Office emphasized that any agreed text from the Cancún gathering had to be consistent with State’s human rights obligations.

A human rights-based approach, Kompass said “brings into focus how climate change-related threats affect individuals and groups differently.  Climate change impacts exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, which in turn, are rooted in discrimination, disparate health status and imbalances in access to knowledge and information.”

Laura Dupuy Lasserre, the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the 2010 Social Forum, noted in her concluding remarks that the discussions at the meeting had reaffirmed the Human Rights Council resolution “that human rights obligations and commitments 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.”

An alliance of non governmental organizations recommended the establishment of a special rapporteur or independent expert of the Human Rights Council dedicated to human rights and climate change.

The Social Forum is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council and the report from this session will be considered at the 2011 March session of the Council.

11 October 2010