Mainstreaming human rights in the new climate deal

The adverse effects of climate change threaten the enjoyment of a range of human rights, such as the right to life, adequate food, adequate housing, and to safe drinking water and sanitation. As such, integrating human rights considerations in the new climate change agreement is an importance issue for some countries and observer organisations involved in the ongoing talks.

This LRI briefing paper offers examples to illustrate approaches and techniques available for including human rights considerations in the 2015 climate change agreement.

Drawing upon existing proposals in the current Geneva negotiating text, the paper sets out the legal implications of the inclusion of reference to human rights in different parts of the agreement; namely, its preamble and operative provisions. Other integrating options are also analysed.

Written by LRI expert advisers, Dr. Annalisa Savaresi, from Edinburgh Law School, and Dr Jacques Hartmann, from Dundee Law School, the briefing also outlines criteria to address the issue of ‘climate refugees’ and the possibility to use the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to specifically highlight human rights concerns associated with climate change.

  Click to access the briefing  

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Negotiating a new climate treaty? LRI panel discussion at Matrix Chambers

Christoph Schwarte, LRI Executive Director, Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Ben Lyon, from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and head of the UK delegation to the UNFCCC, participated in a lunchtime panel discussion on perspectives about the new climate change agreement. The event took place on 22 April and was hosted by Matrix Chambers.

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At the event, Christoph Schwarte provided a timely update on the state of play in the lead up to Paris 2015 and what to expect in June, when the negotiation sessions are scheduled to resume. He further explained some of the formal outcome options that the new climate agreement might cover and what the legal implications may be in each case.

Ben Lyon, on behalf of the UK delegation to the UNFCCC, provided viewpoints about what the priorities and expectations are for the UK and the European Union as a whole. He set out the political context in which the negotiations are taking place and laid out some of the key focus areas on the road to Paris.

Chief Executive of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), Sam Bickersteth, spoke about the significance of the current talks and offered perspectives about the policy work that countries are undergoing domestically as part of the international UNFCCC process. He mentioned, for example, the support that CDKN is providing to Peru for the preparation of their INDCs.

Reporting from Geneva: the pressure is on

Today is the third negotiation day in Geneva. Since the beginning of the meeting on Sunday, Parties have been making proposals to the Elements Text annexed to the Lima Call for Climate Action [Read LRI analysis on this]

The goal for the Geneva session is to deliver by Friday an official ‘negotiating text’ for Parties to continue their talks all the way to Paris in December this year.

As many textual amendments have been added, increasing the initial Elements Text to over 70 pages, the challenge ahead is to begin streamlining the document and finish with something everyone feels comfortable with. The pressure is on in Geneva as this is the last meeting before May, when according to the UN ‘six months rule’, the negotiating text must be completed.

As procedural matters have taken a central position, LRI has been assisting delegates with legal queries involving UNFCCC rules of procedure.

At today’s meeting in Geneva, LRI was also asked to present on the legal dimensions of the 2015 agreement, particularly looking at the potential outcomes and the issue of compliance. Participants found LRI’s clarification of legal aspects very helpful and further requests for assistance continued to flow.

Follow us on twitter @legalresponse for updates on the Geneva talks.

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Christoph Schwarte, LRI’s Director, addresses Climate Action Network (CAN) meeting