The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice welcomed the adoption on 22 June 2017 of a resolution on ‘Human Rights and Climate Change’ by the United Nations Human Rights Council that includes a focus on ‘Human rights, climate change, migrants and persons displaced across international borders’. The fact that the resolution was adopted by consensus demonstrates the international communities’ desire to better understand these two issues.
The current Resolution will form a key part of developing the understanding of the issue of climate displacement in ongoing processes, including the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and the UNFCCC’s Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage and its Task Force on Displacement. The Human Rights Council has expressly mandated engagement with both these processes through the development of a summary report arising from a Panel discussion on this issue.
The Foundation also welcomes the resolution’s request for the continued engagement of the special procedure mandate holders, requesting them to consider the issue of climate change and human rights, particularly the human rights of migrants and persons displaced across international borders in the context of the adverse impacts of climate change, within their respective mandates. Special procedures mandate holders have consistently offered a firm voice in the protection of human rights norms, and their increased attention on the intersection of human rights and climate change will be a welcome addition to this area of work.
Climate displacement is a growing issued faced by millions of people and its impacts can be felt at the international, regional, national and sub-national level. Despite this, climate displacement has, to date, been dealt with in an ad hoc manner in international and domestic fora. In the Foundation’s position paper ‘Protecting the Rights of Climate Displaced People’ the Foundation recommended that the international community take steps to increase their understanding of the issue of climate displacement. The adoption of the Resolution by the Human Rights Council represents a significant step forward in increasing the rights protections of people who are displaced due to the adverse impacts of climate change.
The Foundation congratulates the core sponsors of this resolution Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Philippines for their hard work and continued commitment to this issue, and further commends the dedication of other sponsors of the resolution Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Germany, Haiti, Iceland, Luxembourg, Maldives, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, State of Palestine.