Integrating human rights at the UNFCCC

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Human Rights Council (HRC) have highlighted the links between climate change and human rights and continue to call for a rights-based approach to guide global policies and measures designed to address climate change. The HRC has highlighted the importance of addressing human rights in the context of on-going discussions related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It has recognized that “climate change-related impacts have a range of implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of human rights”. By emphasizing that “human rights obligations and commitments have the potential to inform and strengthen international and national policymaking in the area of climate change,” the Council reaffirms the importance of applying a human rights-based approach to the global response to the climate crisis (Resolution 10/4, 25 March 2009).

The first direct reference to human rights in the context of the UNFCCC was made in 2010, when decision 1/CP.16 referred to HRC resolution 10/4, which recognizes the adverse effects of climate change on the effective enjoyment of human rights and called upon all States to ensure respect for human rights in their climate actions.  The Preamble to the Paris Agreement to the UNFCCC (1/CP.21) expands upon this language calling for all States when taking action to address climate change, to “respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights”.

The following are actions and resources related to OHCHR’s continued efforts to integrate human rights in climate change mitigation and adaptation, particularly with regard to the work of the UNFCCC.

Integrating human rights in the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement

OHCHR continues to work to ensure that human rights are integrated in the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement. OHCHR’s submission to the 46th meeting of the subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC outlined key priorities in this regard. The briefing note on this subject prepared by the Human Rights and Climate Change Working Group provides a useful analysis of key priorities and entry points for human rights in the implementation guidelines.

During SB 48, OHCHR worked actively with members of the Human Rights and Climate Change Working Group, the COP23 Presidency, and other Member States, including the Geneva Pledge for Human Rights in Climate Action, to promote integration of human rights in the guidelines for implementation of the Paris Agreement. OHCHR participated in and / or co-organized a number of side events on human rights and climate change.

OHCHR also participated in the Durban Forum on Capacity-Building, the Paris Committee on Capacity-Building, the Talanoa Dialogue, the ACE Workshop, the Gender Workshop, the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Workshop and a number of multilateral and bilateral conversations about human rights and climate change. More details to follow.

OHCHR contributions at the 22d Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Marrakech 7-18 November 2016)

  • Statement at side event, Human Rights and Gender Equality in the Implementation of the Paris Agreement, 15 November 2016
  • Statement at side event, Human Mobility and Climate Change: Displacement, Migration, Planned Relocation, 10 November 2016
  • Statement at side event, Sustainable Food Systems and Agro-ecological resilience for biodiversity and health, 9 November 2016 (video recording of the event)
  • Statement at NHRI special event, What role can NHRIs play in monitoring the implementation of sustainable development goals and commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, 6 November 2016

OHCHR Submissions to the UNFCCC and related mechanisms

Human rights and climate change resources