Viable climate is a human right

11 December 2009

The sixty-first anniversary of the Human Rights Day was celebrated yesterday across the world. It was especially relevant to the negotiations in Copenhagen as the realisation of all human rights depends on a viable climate. Climate change threatens livelihood, health, access to water and survival. Hence, the Copenhagen outcome must especially acknowledge and protect human rights.

ECO applauds delegates for the most recent Shared Vision text acknowledging that climate change has implications for a range of human rights. However, this good start misses some crucial elements. Shared vision must require mitigation and adaptation activities to be undertaken in a manner that respects, protects and promotes human rights. Vulnerability based on poverty, gender, age, indigenous or minority status and disability should be added to the text acknowledging geographic vulnerability. And more than “seeking” stakeholder participation, shared vision must guarantee access to information, effective participation and access to justice.

Climate justice for the poorest and most vulnerable requires integrating human rights into all aspects of the agreement, not just the shared vision. The mitigation and adaptation texts must reiterate Parties’ existing human rights obligations. Adaptation text must recognise the fundamental human rights of internally or internationally displaced people.

In addition, the text on spillover effects must ensure that human rights guide efforts to identify and prevent such harm. Finally, the agreement must require mechanisms for the consideration of communications on behalf of individuals, local communities or indigenous peoples harmed by implementation of the Convention.

While ECO appreciates that delegates have refrained from exercising the right to “reasonable limitation of working hours” guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, out of a service commitment to the global community, you must work harder to protect human rights. Today is the perfect time to start.

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