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Top UN experts urge States to integrate human rights values in current climate change negotiations

GENEVA (9 December 2014) – The largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system today urged* all Governments around the world to integrate human rights standards and principles in the current negotiations taking place at the Lima Climate Change Conference, from 1 to 12 December 2014, and in the agreement to be adopted in Paris in 2015.

In a joint statement* issued today in Geneva ahead of Human Rights Day (10 December 2014), the group of 76 human rights experts urged the UN member States to ensure that the principle of climate justice is at the core of climate change governance.

“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our generation, with consequences that transform life on earth and adversely impact the livelihood of many,” said François Crépeau, who currently heads the Coordination Committee of international experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.

“Human rights must be pivotal in the ongoing negotiations and must be firmly anchored in a new agreement. Any response to climate change must protect, respect, promote and fulfil human rights obligations,” Mr. Crépeau noted.

In their statement, the independent experts stressed that understanding and addressing the human consequences of climate change fundamental and therefore, climate change cannot be effectively addressed without protecting human rights.

“Climate change has a disproportionate effect on many disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable individuals and groups, whose ways of life are inextricably linked to the environment,” Mr. Crépeau said

“The human rights framework focuses our attention on the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups, thus requiring that adaptation policies and measures be developed on the basis of the principles of equality and non-discrimination,” he stressed.

The experts noted that climate justice sees the effect and causes of climate change in relation to the concept of justice, namely, whether the rights of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations are taken into account when implementing response measures and whether such measures are fair, equitable and transparent.

The experts’ call follows an Open Letter sent in October to the State Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, on the occasion of the Bonn meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.

“We renew our call on the State Parties to include language in the 2015 climate agreement that provides that the Parties shall, in all climate change related actions, respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights for all,” the independent experts concluded.

(*) Read the full statement by the UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders:
In English: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15393&LangID=E
In Spanish: http://www.ohchr.org/SP/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15393&LangID=S

The Coordination Committee is a body of six independent experts which coordinates and facilitates the work of special procedures as a whole. It is currently composed of Mr. François Crépeau (Chairperson), Mr. Michael Addo, Ms. Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, Ms. Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, Ms. Yanghee Lee and Mr. Chaloka Beyani (ex-officio). Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/CoordinationCommittee.aspx

“Special procedures” is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Currently, there are 39 thematic mandates and 14 mandates related to countries and territories, with 76 mandate holders. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides these mechanisms with support for the fulfilment of their mandates.

Special Procedures: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx
Country mandates: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Countries.aspx
Thematic mandates: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Themes.aspx

Read the open letter signed by 28 UN human rights experts: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/SP/SP_To_UNFCCC.pdf

For enquiries and media requests, please contact Melinda Ching Simon (+41 22 917 9113 mchingsimon@ohchr.org) or write to ieenvironment@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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