What is a Rulebook without Rights and Participation?

8 December 2018

With a flurry of new texts, ECO was hopeful that Parties had made good progress. But upon closer examination, ECO is very worried. Not content to undermine ambition alone, backsliding continues to broaden its reach to the whole rulebook. With each new APA text, ECO’s worries grow.

Where are the rights? Where are non-party stakeholders? Where are indigenous peoples? Where is gender? Food security? Just transition? Intergenerational equity? Biodiversity and ecosystem integrity? Just three years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, it seems Parties are suffering from amnesia.

Luckily, ECO is here to remind you: the success at COP21 did not come only from the fact that the Paris Agreement got all countries on board to tackle the climate crisis. It also came from the fact that they agreed climate action should be people-centered and rights based. Yet, three years later, mentions to human rights have mysteriously disappeared from the entire text of the rulebook. References to gender are equally elusive, including as it relates to adaptation, an area Parties explicitly agreed must be gender-responsive.

And then there’s participation. The participation of non-party stakeholders in nearly every APA agenda item is critical. ECO is watching carefully, and with concern as references to participation of non-Parties progressively disappears or finds itself almost all alone in brackets. Non- party stakeholders, including NGOs, have a lot of expertise and cover the whole globe so why would you want to exclude them from developing NDCs, helping craft adaptation plans, participating in the global stocktake and the transparency framework? After all it’s not only better for climate action, but you”ve already agreed to it.

The timing of this amnesia couldn’t be more ironic. On Monday, we will celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted at a time when world leaders aligned to ensure that egregious human rights violations would never again be committed on a global scale. And here we are. On the precipice of a climate crisis that, according to the IPCC, requires immediate action to avoid the suffering of millions of people and the collapse of eco-systems.

Failing to protect human rights (and related rights) in the Paris rulebook, while simultaneously celebrating this important anniversary, would not only undermine the Paris Agreement itself but also existing human rights frameworks beyond the Spodek arena. It would also send an extremely dangerous signal to the populations living on the frontlines of climate change. ECO therefore hopes you will not miss the opportunity, and invites you to celebrate the anniversary of rights with rights… in the rulebook!

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