Calling for Human Rights Language in COP21 Paris Agreement

The adverse impacts of climate change are a matter of justice and inequality. Communities who are dependent on the environment for their livelihood – pastoralists, indigenous people, people living on small islands and low coastal zones – and people living in poverty are the ones most affected by both climate change and the responses taken to address its impacts. The increase of droughts, floods, cyclones and typhoons threaten their right to life, to adequate food, to safe drinking water, to adequate housing, to health. Those communities whose rights are most threatened are also those most at risk for being left behind and marginalised in talks about mitigating climate change. FI and partners are therefore advocating for climate talks to highlight the protection of human rights as a key element in mitigating the impacts of global warming. They are also pushing to ensure that marginalised communities are involved in any future climate actions.

As governments discuss the terms of a new global climate change deal at COP21 in Paris, FI and its partners are calling for strong binding human rights language to be included in the text of the agreement. FI’s representatives are participating in specific events at the COP21* – speaking in debates within the official meetings and taking part in parallel discussions with activists and civil society – seeking to influence the language of the deal, insisting that governments must be held accountable to protecting human rights when addressing climate change and seeking to mitigate its impacts. FI is also meeting face to face with different representatives of affected countries to stress the message in person.

The Paris agreement will have an influence on the discussion on climate change at the Human Rights Council, which is of particular interest for FI and partners working closely with the Council. If human rights language is used in the agreement, human rights advocates and NGOs will have a stronger argument to convince the Human Rights Council to set up a mandate for a Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights.

Side events FI was involved in:

  • Leaving No One Behind, Establishing Climate Justice 
  • Climate Change: One of the Greatest Human Rights Challenges of Our Time
  • Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground: The International Movement to Ban Fracking

Context: A human rights based approach to climate change puts human beings at the centre of the discussion on climate, underlining the fact that climate change has direct consequences on people’s rights. The increase of droughts, floods, cyclones and typhoons threaten the right to life, the right to adequate food, to safe drinking water, to adequate housing, to health. The Human Rights Council, since 2008, has been building a strong legal argument, including resolutions and studies, on the impact of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights. Over the recent years, FI has been adding to the evidence, by inviting its partners working in areas most affected by climate change to speak in international forums about their experience, and pushing the Human Rights Council to take further actions in ensuring that human rights become central in legally binding measures to mitigate climate change.