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Climate change

Human rights must be part of any climate change agreement in Paris

27 November 2015


Any agreement on climate change reached in the Conference of Parties (COP 21) taking place in Paris, needs to have a human rights response at its core, said Craig Mokhiber, who heads the Development and Economic Social Issues division for the UN Human Rights Office.

“Climate change is principally caused by the action of human beings; it is the direct result of policies and practices in the public and private sectors, and it undercuts human rights,” he said. “If you hold that against the obligation of all States in the world to promote and protect human rights. . . we think a direct breach of those rights has taken place. What we want to see is that the response in Paris is one that takes into account the impacts of climate change on human rights.”

Mokhiber was speaking before the start of COP21, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference that brings together governments from across the globe to come up with a legally binding agreement to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

In its Key Message on Human Rights and Climate Change, the UN Human Rights Office has also called on States to take action to protect those who lack the resources to protect themselves, as well as providing access to effective redress for climate harm.

“We know, as a matter of evidence, that climate change directly impacts on the right to health, the right to water and sanitation, the right to adequate housing and right to development,” Mokhiber said.

In a move to bolster recognition of the link between climate change and human rights, nine States became signatories to the Geneva Pledge on Human Rights and Climate Action during a ceremony which took place at the UN Human Rights Office headquarters in Geneva. The pledge, which is a voluntary initiative, has States pledge to enable meaningful collaboration between national representatives in the UNFCCC and the processes of the Human Rights Council.

The additional signatures bring to 30 the total number of countries which have signed the pledge committing to promote and respect human rights in climate actions and strengthen the links between human rights and climate experts.

27 November 2015