Introduction of human rights related issues in COP Agenda

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Date produced: 12/12/2014

1. Under which Agenda Item on the COP agenda should a draft COP Decision that a) request the secretariat to seek the views of states on best practices for integrating human rights to climate change action at a national level, b) request the secretariat to organize an inter-sessional workshop on how to integrate rights into climate action, and c) ask the secretariat to prepare a report on human rights in climate action be tabled? What are the different options and what is the best option?

2. Assume this first COP Decision is adopted and leads to the secretariat organizing the workshop, consulting states and presenting its report on human rights-CC, under which UNFCCC COP Agenda Item should a second COP Decision in, for example 2017, be tabled that would: a) request the secretariat to amend the national communications guidelines to include human rights; and b) request the secretariat to begin consultations on producing new UNFCCC general guidelines to help States adopt a rights-based approach to climate change policy and action? What are the different options and what is the best option?

Advice:

The response to this query depends to some extent on the procedural and substantive outcomes of the climate negotiations in Paris in 2015. If, for example, the new agreement took the form of a protocol or other international treaty there would be a new governing body -possibly the COP serving as the meeting of parties to the new protocol. In this case this new governing body would have to create and adopt its own new agenda. If, however, the new agreement was framed as a series of COP decisions, the following preliminary comments apply:

Currently, there appears to be little scope in the COP agenda for introducing human rights related issues such as those listed in the question. There may be some scope for introducing human rights issues under the Gender and Climate Change agenda item, but this is not an ideal fit. Human rights considerations could be introduced through language in the new agreement, and I do believe that this is indeed the intent of some Parties, supported by the NGO community.

Regarding the COP agenda, the draft rules of procedure allow Parties to propose new agenda items for inclusion in the provisional agenda of a COP. The soonest this could be done is in advance of COP 21. Please be aware, however, that the COP would have to agree on the agenda at its opening session and there is no guarantee that an agenda item proposed by a Party would be agreed to, nor is there any guarantee that the COP president would address an agenda item in the manner desired.

On the specific matter of amending the guidelines for national communications, for developing countries, this would be taken up by the Consultative Group of Experts on National Communications from Parties not included in Annex I of the Convention (CGE), not the secretariat. Therefore, there is scope for addressing this point under the agenda item on national communications.