On 30 November 2021, Al-Haq responded to the call from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to provide input on the adverse impacts of climate change on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights in vulnerable situations. The call for submission comes in preparation for the UN Secretary-General’s report to be delivered during the Human Rights Council (HRC)’s fiftieth regular session, pursuant to HRC resolution 47/24 “Human Rights and Climate Change.”
In the immediate aftermath of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which took place in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November 2021, Al-Haq addressed in its report to the OHCHR the multi-dimensional impacts of Israel’s apartheid, colonization and military occupation on the human rights of the Palestinian people in the context of climate change. In the OPT climate oppression is used as a tool of domination against the Palestinian people, which in turn contributes to the exacerbation of the climate change crisis. Drawing on specific examples, the report illustrates how Israel uses climate oppression, as a tool to entrench its apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole.
As per Article II of the 1973 Apartheid Convention, apartheid is characterized by “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, [including] inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them […].”
In order to entrench its racial domination over the Palestinian people and their lands, Israel has adopted a complex network of laws, policies and practices of land appropriation and pillage of natural resources that accelerate the adverse effects of climate change. This in turn results in the depletion of finite natural resources, and increases risks of drought and flooding, and puts Palestinian people’s access to adequate food and water in serious jeopardy. These policies and practices further infringe on the right to an adequate living, right to water and adequate food, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.
Parallel to its climate-related discriminatory and oppressive policies and practices, Israel adopts an environmental discourse to justify its colonial afforestation projects throughout Palestine. Most forests planted inside the Green Line are actually intended to cover Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages during the Nakba in 1948, and subsequently prevent the return of refugees to their lands.
The Palestinian people as a whole, as a people living under a multilayered system of apartheid, advancing colonization, prolonged military occupation, are highly vulnerable to Israel’s climate oppression, especially the most marginalized groups, such as women and children, Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip, and Palestinian Bedouins of the Jordan Valley. To maintain its apartheid and settler-colonial regime, Israel makes use of its strategic territorial fragmentation to hamper Palestinian communities’ adaptative capacities, and prevent community-based mitigation and adaptation solutions, hence driving Palestinian communities to engage in unsustainable coping mechanisms.
In its report, Al-Haq concludes that ‘climate apartheid’ exacerbates multidimensional inequalities and constitutes a tool to entrench and maintain domination, which in turn reinforces and spurs climate change. All forms of oppression including colonialism, apartheid and military occupation, exacerbate the oppressed peoples’ vulnerabilities, forcing them to cope with disappearing natural resources, and hampering their relationship with their lands. Addressing climate change, climate injustice and climate oppression necessitates the adoption of a human rights-based approach that gives due consideration to the multi-layered interrelations between people’s right to self-determination, including the right to free disposal of their natural resources, women and children’s rights, property rights, right to an adequate standard of living, right to food and water, right to housing, and right to work.
Read the report here.