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Human rights and the environment: Our generation must meet the great challenge – UN experts

GENEVA (5 June 2015) – A group of 27 United Nations independent experts* today urged governments worldwide to make sure human rights are at the core of climate change governance, including by signing the Geneva Pledge for Human Rights in Climate Action to promote and respect human rights in climate action.

“Climate change is one of the greatest human rights challenges of our generation, and it is our generation that must meet it,” the UN experts said. “Heads of governments and their climate negotiators represent the very last generation that can prevent catastrophic environmental harm to a vast array of human rights.”

The human rights experts’ call comes on World Environment Day, as international negotiators gather for the climate change conference which started this week (1-11 June) in Bonn, Germany at the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat.

“Bringing a human rights perspective to climate change not only clarifies what is at stake; it also helps to ensure that responses are coherent, effective and responsive to the concerns of those most affected,” the experts noted. 

UN experts have warned earlier this year that the 2 degrees goal being discussed “is not ambitious enough to protect human rights” in a report presented to the UNFCCC to warn States about the threats to the rights to life, health, food and water and sanitation if the world temperature warms just 2 degrees. (The report: http://www.thecvf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/humanrightsSRHRE.pdf)

“We renew our call on State parties to maintain 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,” they said.

In their statement, the UN human rights experts also reiterated their support to heads of governments and their climate negotiators and all those working to protect human rights from this grave threat.  

(*) Check the full statement and the UN experts who have endorsed it: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16049&LangID=E


The independent experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

For more information and media inquiries, please contact Melinda Ching Simon (+41 79 713 5867 / mchingsimon@ohchr.org)

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