GENEVA (4 November 2022) – UN independent experts* today called on States to fully integrate human rights standards and principles in negotiations during the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) starting in Egypt on Sunday. They made the following statement:
“In 2015, States adopted the Paris Agreement, pledging to respect human rights in all climate actions. However, as the parties meet in Sharm el Sheikh for COP27, little progress has been made in the area of human rights, or climate actions.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has stressed that human rights obligations, standards and principles have the potential to inform and strengthen international, regional and national policymaking in the area of climate change, thereby promoting policy coherence, legitimacy and sustainable outcomes. However, human rights, and the financing required to realise these rights, have yet to be mainstreamed in climate change discussions, including the annual COPs.
Climate change is negatively impacting the full and effective enjoyment of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments. Climate change is having a major impact on a wide range of human rights today, affecting mostly marginalised groups, and could have a cataclysmic impact in the future, unless ambitious actions are undertaken immediately.
Among the human rights being threatened and violated are the rights to life, adequate food, safe drinking water and sanitation, the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including sexual and reproductive health, adequate housing, self-determination, just and favourable conditions of work, development, the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and livelihoods, as well as the right to education and cultural rights. Climate change is also contributing to human rights violations with specific adverse impacts on women and girls and against groups in marginalised situations, such as migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, older persons and persons with disabilities including albinism. Climate change is exacerbating the risk of other human rights violations, including violence against women and girls, trafficking in persons, especially women and children, excessive use of force in the context of policing climate rallies and protests, racism and discrimination. Systemic racism and contemporary legacies of colonialism negatively impact the right to a healthy environment and therefore continue to have an impact on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the right of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Lawyers and others working to address climate change face abuse, threats to their lives, and other risks. Climate change is also a major driver of forced displacement and renders the search for durable solutions significantly more challenging.
States have taken important steps to recognise the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (which includes the right to a safe climate) as a human right, most recently in General Assembly resolution 76/300 of 29 July 2022. It is time for States to act on their obligations.
We are deeply concerned by the lack of commitment by States that have been the primary historical contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. Current nationally determined contributions provided by parties to the Paris Agreement remain seriously inadequate to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. The negative effects of failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are disproportionately suffered by persons and communities who are already in a disadvantageous situation, and not enough financial resources are being allocated to these high priority concerns.
For these reasons, we call on States:
To urgently step up their mitigation actions (emissions reductions), in line with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, as inadequate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is creating a human rights catastrophe. This would include ending fossil fuel expansion, and accelerating the phase-out of coal, oil and natural gas in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement. It would also include regulating the emissions of businesses under their jurisdictions, and ensuring their courts are available to enforce these regulations.
To include human rights considerations in their nationally determined contributions and other planning processes and ensure that market-based mechanisms have effective means for protecting human rights and effective compliance and redress mechanisms, including mandatory environmental and human rights due diligence laws and policies.
To establish a loss and damage finance facility, and significantly step up funding to help particularly vulnerable developing countries, especially small island developing States and least developed countries, to cover the costs of loss and damage.
To call for climate finance to address mitigation and adaptation, fulfilling the $100 billion annual pledge and increasing it to meet the needs of climate vulnerable States.
To allow for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and civil society, including human rights defenders, grassroots organisations and women-led organisations in decision-making processes at all levels of the COP process. Indigenous peoples and civil society play an essential role in the advancement of climate action, and their voices must be heard.
To ensure that climate policies, including those on adaptation, mitigation and financing, ensure gender equality, the rights of the child, non-discrimination and racial justice, and ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls with diverse backgrounds in climate change mitigation actions at all levels.
To stay attuned to the impacts of climate change, as well as the design and implementation of mitigation and adaption measures on all human beings, so that all peoples are treated humanely and with dignity, and if forced to relocate or migrate because of the effects of climate change, they are able to rebuild their lives and livelihoods with dignity.
To expand opportunities for safe migration, including through a general right of admission and stay for people displaced by climate change, and pathways to citizenship.
To address systemic racism and provide justice and reparations to the victims, including those whose health has been affected, and avoid entrenching racial injustice while addressing the climate and ecological crisis.
To include children and youth representatives in their delegations to COP 27 and future COPs, to ensure that young people have a say in their future.
To exercise restraint when policing climate action protests and assemblies and operate within the bounds of international standards designed to safeguard the rights of persons exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
To bridge the gap between countries’ stated levels of climate ambition and their plans to address the impact from food systems on climate change by transitioning to agroecology.
The outcomes of COP 27 are of critical importance, and we call on States to make sure that all decisions made, and actions taken, consider their human rights implications. This, in turn, will lead to better policymaking in the area of climate change.”
- The experts: Mr. Ian Fry, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change; David Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; Mr. Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms. Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Ms. Paula Gaviria, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Mr. Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Mr. Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Nazila Ghanea, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Mr. Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Ms. Claudia Mahler Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Ms. Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Ms. Attiya Waris, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt; Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing; Mr. Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues; Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia; Ms. Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Mr. Alioune Tine, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; Mr. Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Francisco Cali Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Ivana Radačić (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Melissa Upreti, and Meskerem Geset Techane, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Ms. Sorcha MacLeod (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Jelena Aparac, Mr. Ravindran Daniel, Mr. Chris Kwaja, Mr. Carlos Salazar Couto, Working Group on the use of mercenaries; Mr Fortuné Gaetan Zongo, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi; Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Ms. Isha Dyfan, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia; Ms. Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Ms. Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism; Ms. Catherine S. Namakula (current Chair), Ms. Barbara G. Reynolds (Vice Chair), Ms. Dominique Day, Mr. Sushil Raj and Ms. Miriam Ekiudoko, Working Group of Experts on people of African descent; Ms. Alice Cruz, Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members; Ms. Ashwini K.P., Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Clement Nyaletsossi VOULE, Special Rapporteur Freedom of Association and Assembly.
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