Climate Change, Human Rights and the International Legal Order: The Role of the UN Human Rights Council
This article discusses recent developments related to recognition of the link between human rights and climate change in international human rights forums. It focuses on the main human rights body of the United Nations, the Human Rights Council, which has addressed climate change in three resolutions, two panel discussions and at its annual Social Forum. The analysis shows that the main challenge faced by the Human Rights Council as it seeks to address climate change is getting to grips with the relationship between international human rights law on the one hand and the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the other. The article argues that this relationship is best captured through quasi-judicial analyses, whereby input from those whose human rights are affected by climate change is sought. It identifies concrete ways in which the Council could promote or enable such analyses through the adoption of another resolution. More broadly, it demonstrates the capacity of the international human rights system to interpret laws aimed at preventing dangerous climate change and to contribute to their operationalisation in accordance with human rights norms.
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