On 23 June 2022, ESCR-Net members sent a collective submission to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, Mr. Ian Fry, in response to a call for input on “Promotion and protection of human rights in the context of mitigation, adaptation, and financial actions to address climate change, with particular emphasis on loss and damage,” to inform his upcoming report to be presented at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. The joint submission focused especially on loss and damage. [Read the full submission here].
The submission underlines that historical and present responsibility for the climate crisis lies with wealthy, highly industrialized countries and powerful corporate actors. Yet countries, peoples and communities, especially Indigenous Peoples and those in the Global South, who have contributed the least to the climate crisis, are not only the hardest hit in terms of loss and damage, but climate change impacts are likely to more rapidly escalate in their contexts in relation to the rest of the world. They must confront these climate impacts with limited resources due to histories of colonialism and extractivism, which contribute to increasing peoples’ climate vulnerabilities and undermining their adaptive capacities, resulting in immense global inequalities. Meanwhile, countries in the Global North which have far more fiscal space and far more responsibility for climate change, are refusing to take action at the scale required and commit significant resources to loss and damage, despite the human rights obligations of international cooperation and assistance, and to provide remedy for human rights violations, which in this case would involve not preventing foreseeable human rights harm. Given existing legal duties and in light of extensive knowledge of the drivers and harms of climate change, the failure of States, especially wealthy nations, to take adequate action to reduce emissions, support people to adapt to climate change and provide redress to those whose rights have been violated as a result of loss and damage, constitutes a human rights violation.
Grounded in the lived experience of those experiencing human rights harm due to the climate change and also resisting the structural drivers of the climate crisis, our recommendations (in summary) to the Special Rapporteur in relation to laws, policies and action on loss and damage includes the following:
- States must integrate human rights in decisions to avert, minimize and address loss and damage. In particular, the submission calls on the Rapporteur to urge States to, inter alia:
- Adopt a Feminist, Intersectional Approach to Designing Loss and Damage related policy and frameworks, including collecting disaggregated data and addressing data gaps
- Ensure the Rights to Self-Determination and Public Participation; Strengthen the Right to Land and Tenure Rights
- Strengthen Societal Support- Protect Human Rights and Environmental Defenders; Center Care; Enhance Social Protection; Invest in Public Services and Infrastructure
- Recognize the grave implications of ‘non-economic’ loss and damage, and protect related rights including cultural rights
- Follow a rights-based approach to Forced Displacement and Migration caused by Loss and Damage
- Ensure Corporate Accountability and Stop Corporate Capture
- Under international human rights law, wealthy industrialized countries must provide new, additional, needs-based, rights-compliant, predictable, and sustainable finance for loss and damage, at the scale required, in light of the legal duties of international cooperation, and to provide remedy for human rights violations, including intersecting forms of structural discrimination rooted in legacies of colonialism, among others--and on the basis of the principles of solidarity, historical responsibility and the polluter pays.
As loss and damage devastates lives across regions, the collective submission affirms that a human rights approach to loss and damage is important as it brings the focus firmly back to core principles of human dignity, remedy, participation, cooperation, and accountability.
Numerous network members contributed to the strategy, research, drafting, and/or reviewing of this collective ESCR-Net submission, foremost via the Environment and ESCR Working Group, with special thanks to: African Indigenous Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development (AIFES, Nigeria); Al-Haq (Palestine); ALTSEAN-Burma; Amnesty International (AI); Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP); Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD); Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA); Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID); Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR); Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); Dejusticia (Colombia); Dibeen Association for Environmental Development (Jordan); End Water Poverty; Egyptian Association for Collective Rights (EACR, Egypt); Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR, Egypt); Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network (EIWEN, Kenya); Foundation for the Conservation of the Earth (FOCONE, Nigeria); Franciscans International (FI); Fundación Promoción Humana (FPH, Argentina); Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR); Layla Hughes (individual member, International Environmental Lawyer); Kavita Naidu (individual member, International Human Rights Lawyer); Lok Shakti Abhiyan (India); Manushya Foundation (Thailand); Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP, Nigeria); National Indigenous Women Forum (Nepal); Ogiek Peoples Development Program (OPDP, Kenya); Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF, Pakistan) and SAPCONE-Turkana People Organization (Kenya).
View the submission and more on ESCR-NET here.