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Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers Concludes Thirty-Seventh Session after Adopting Concluding Observations on the Reports of Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan and São Tomé and Príncipe

08 December 2023

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families this afternoon concluded its thirty-seventh session after adopting concluding observations on the reports of Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan and São Tomé and Príncipe.

The concluding observations will be available on the webpage of the session in the coming days.

Edgar Corzo Sosa, Committee Chair, said he wished to add his voice to those who had spoken yesterday during their joint side event with the capacity building programme on the impact of climate change on the human rights of migrants and their families.

Mr. Corzo Sosa said the modern environmental justice movement had precursors in centuries of struggle by indigenous peoples, labour movements and civil rights advocates, but was widely identified as arising in its current form from activism in the United States in the early 1980s that opposed the situating of a toxic waste dump near an African American community. Over time, the movement took on a global character, and understandings of environmental justice and equity were linked with sustainable development. A globalised environmental justice movement recognised the parallels in experiences of marginalised communities around the world and the ways in which historic and enduring injustices in international structures, like colonialism, manifested in the environmental sphere.

Manifestations of environmental and climate injustice and racism included, for example, the disproportionate impact of disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, on communities of colour. Many climate and environmental activists and actors did not specifically address the ways that systemic and historical racism and other multiple and intersecting systems of discrimination created vulnerabilities or how they affected what was prioritised within environmental movements. The global protest movement that began in late spring 2020, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, included a broadened conversation about the disproportionate impacts of climate change and environmental harms on communities of colour. However, linkages between the climate crisis and issues related to discrimination and to intersectionality remained largely unaddressed in the context of the United Nations climate change process. There was much that could be gained both from greater attention to environmental issues on the part of the mechanisms charged with addressing racial disparities, and greater attention to racial disparities on the part of all United Nations human rights actors when addressing environment and climate issues.

Mr. Corzo Sosa recommended that States needed to adopt and implement policies aimed at reducing emissions, and ensure that public and private investments were consistent with a pathway towards low carbon emissions and climate resilient development. States parties should effectively contribute to phasing out fossils fuels, promoting renewable energy, and addressing emissions from the land sector. Additionally, States must regulate private actors and hold them accountable for harm they generated. In the design and implementation of climate policies, States must also respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of all, including women, indigenous and child environmental defenders. As for the Committees, in their future work, they should continue to provide guidance to States on how they could meet their obligations under the human rights treaties, in relation to mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

During the session, Mr. Corzo Sosa said that in addition to reviewing the reports of Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan and São Tomé and Príncipe, the Committee also adopted the list of issues prior to reporting for the Gambia and Mexico in relation to their initial and fourth periodic report respectively, as well as the list of issues for Benin, in relation to their initial report.

Mr. Corzo Sosa commended the Governments of Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan and São Tomé and Príncipe for engaging with the Committee, a positive demonstration of the commitment of those States to their reporting obligations and engagement with the treaty body system.

The Chair then briefed the Committee on the inter-sessional activities which were undertaken. The Committee had reviewed and adopted three draft roadmaps of the collaboration, declaration and guidelines on the Committee’s working methods. The Committee also held two successful side events during the session, one jointly with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the other with the capacity building programme. The Committee also held a private meeting with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to discuss the next steps forward on the elaboration of their future general comment. Mr. Corzo Sosa thanked all Committee members and members of the secretariat for the successful session.

The thirty-eighth session of the Committee is scheduled to be held in June 2024 in Geneva.

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