Climate Change and Human Rights: A Rough Guide
This great little book — which you can either buy or download here — by the International Council for Human Rights, deserves a whole lot more attention than it has gotten. This is true for a general reason and for a specific one.
The general reason — this should be obvious but needs to be stated — is the global warming is a massively important human rights issues, though only recently has it been recognized as such. To this day, human rights conferences tend to focus on what we might call the “classical” rights agenda — immigrants rights, prisoners rights, minority rights, women’s rights,and in general individual and civil rights.
The challenge, now, is to build upon this classical agenda, to find space for environmental rights and more particularly the rights of climate-affected peoples. For development rights, and more particularly the right to sustainable development as we must win it, in a world of climate crisis. More generally, the challenge is a proper exploration of rights-based approaches to global climate protection.
This “rough guide” to climate change and human rights helps to remedy this failing. But it goes further.
“The report is intended primarily as a mapping exercise. It lays out a range of research agendas that deserve greater attention than they can be given here. It also assesses the adequacy of human rights conceptions and processes to the larger justice concerns climate change raises. Although human rights considerations arise throughout climate change policy, the report suggests that human rights applications will be most useful if they are narrowly tailored to speciﬁc problems.”
It is in this context — these “human rights applications” that are tailored to “specific problems” — that GDRs comes in.
More particularly, the distinction between “luxury” and “survival” emissions is here reviewed, and GDRs is commended for defining a rights-based “development threshold” that distinguishes the one from the other. Then, in a notable approach to the central human rights issues raised by the climate crisis, the “right to development” comes in for examination. It’s not a detailed examination by any means, but it’s notable for the coherence with which is situates this emerging, still-to-be-defined-and-codified right within the larger discussion.
A notable milestone, and a good place to start as we set out to define and mainstream the “right to sustainable development” and all that it implies.