Human Rights Council - 29th Session - Source: UN Geneva 2015

UN Human Rights Council Speaks with one Voice on Climate Change

United Nations Human Rights Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Climate Change

  • Resolution supported by the Climate Vulnerable Forum also recognises the Forum’s work and welcomes the forthcoming 2015 UN Climate Change Conference at Paris (COP21)

  • Resolution mandates new analytical study by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Office on the human right to high standards of health

Download the tabled draft resolution text that was adopted in English (pdf, 0.1mb)

View the video at the UN Human Rights Council on the resolution’s adoption here (via UN Web TV)

GENEVA, 2 JULY 2015
Sponsored by Climate Vulnerable Forum members Bangladesh and Philippines, together with all other Climate Vulnerable Forum members and a total of over 110 countries co-sponsoring, including the African Group and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously adopted a new resolution today on human rights and climate change.
Introducing the resolution as a question “none other than a matter of survival” the Ambassador of Bangladesh to the United Nations at Geneva, H.E. Mr. M. Shameem Ahsan, said “the timeliness of this resolution cannot but be stressed as the world witnesses growing climatic vulnerabilities while working on developing a robust, legally-binding outcome this December in Paris,” adding “We are grateful to the different delegations for their positive outlook and willingness and also for joining us in consensus. To you all, this is a support you are lending to millions of people who are in vulnerable situations due to climate change.”
Also introducing the resolution the Ambassador of the Philippines to the United Nations, H.E. Ms. Cecilia Rebong, stated “The adverse impact of climate change affects all. It chooses no country. It specifies no people. The actions to counter the adverse impacts should be global and closely coordinated. The adoption of this resolution by consensus will bring out the message loud and clear that the UN Human Rights Council has one voice in addressing the adverse impact of climate change,” adding that “We trust that, with the adoption of this resolution, the OHCHR will now be mandated and allocated financial and human resources for climate change concerns and implement programmes on human rights and climate change, starting with the implementation of this resolution.”
The resolution specifically recognises the establishment and advocacy of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and welcomed the holding of the forthcoming 21st Conference of the UNFCCC at Paris in November/December 2015 (COP21). It mandates the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) together with other key stakeholders to prepare, before March 2016, a detailed analytical study on the relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. It will be the first formal study on climate change and human rights since the first resolution of the Council on climate change in 2008 mandated a general study by OHCHR on the topic. The resolution additionally mandates a panel discussion on climate change, human rights and health at the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council set for March 2016.

Download the tabled draft resolution text that was adopted in English (pdf, 0.1mb)

The full text of the resolution adopted today in Geneva by the UN Human Rights Council is as follows:
The Human Rights Council,
PP1  Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,
PP2 Recalling all its previous resolutions on human rights and climate change,
PP3 Reaffirming the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the objectives and principles thereof, and emphasizing that parties should, in all climate change-related actions, fully respect human rights as enunciated in the outcome of the sixteenth session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention,
PP4 Reaffirming also the commitment to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change through long-term cooperative action, in order to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention,
PP5  Acknowledging that, as stated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,
PP6  Acknowledging also that, as stated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, responses to climate change should be coordinated with social and economic development in an integrated manner with a view to avoiding adverse impacts on the latter, taking into full account the legitimate priority needs of developing countries for the achievement of sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty,
PP 7 Affirming that human rights obligations, standards and principles have the potential to inform and strengthen international, regional and national policymaking in the area of climate change, promoting policy coherence, legitimacy and sustainable outcomes,
PP8  Emphasizing that the adverse effects of climate change have a range of implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of human rights, including, inter alia, the right to life, the right to adequate food, the right to the enjoyment of highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to adequate housing, the right to self-determination, the right to safe drinking water and sanitation and the right to development, and recalling that in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence,
PP9  Expressing concern that, while these implications affect individuals and communities around the world, the adverse effects of climate change are felt most acutely by those segments of the population that are already in vulnerable situations owing to factors such as geography, poverty, gender, age, indigenous or minority status, national or social origin, birth or other status and disability,
PP10  Expressing concern also that countries lacking the resources for implementing their adaptation plans and programs of action and effective adaptation strategies may suffer from higher exposure to extreme weather events, in both rural and urban areas, particularly in developing countries, including those in least developed countries, small island developing states and African countries with more climate vulnerability, 
PP11 Recognizing the particular vulnerabilities of non-nationals who may face challenges associated with implementing appropriate responses in extreme weather conditions due to their status and who may have limited access to information and services resulting in barriers to full enjoyment of their human rights,
PP12 Affirming the commitment to enhance action on adaptation under the Cancun Adaptation Framework, and further implement the Nairobi Work Programme of the UNFCCC,
PP 13 Welcoming the holding of the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015 in Paris,
PP 14 Noting the importance of facilitating meaningful interaction between the human rights and climate change communities in order to build capacity to deliver responses to climate change as outlined in the Geneva Pledge on Human Rights in Climate Action,
PP15 Noting the establishment and the advocacy of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF),
  1. Expresses concern that climate change has contributed to the increase of both sudden-onset natural disasters and slow-onset events, and that these events have adverse effects on the full enjoyment of all human rights;
  2. Emphasizes the urgent importance of continuing to address, as they relate to States’ human rights obligations, the adverse consequences of climate change for all, particularly in developing countries and its people whose situation is most vulnerable to climate change, especially those in a situation of extreme poverty, and deteriorating livelihood conditions;
  3. Decides to incorporate into its programme of work for the thirty-first session, on the basis of the different elements contained in the present resolution, a panel discussion on the adverse impact of climate change on States’ efforts to progressively realize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and related policies, lessons learned and good practices;
  4. Requests   the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in consultation with and taking into account the views of States, the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, the World Health Organization as well as other relevant international organizations and intergovernmental bodies including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and other stakeholders, to conduct, within existing resources, a detailed analytical study on the relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health to be submitted to the Council prior to its thirty-first sessionand with a view to informing the Panel mandated in the preceding paragraph;
  5. Requests further the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit to the Human Rights Council, at its session following the panel discussion, a summary report, including any recommendations stemming therefrom, for consideration of further follow-up action;
  6. Invites the special procedures mandate holders, within their respective mandates, and other relevant stakeholders, including academic experts and civil society organizations, to contribute actively in the panel discussion;
  7. Encourages relevant special procedures mandate holders to continue to consider the issue of climate change and human rights within their respective mandates;
  8. Decides to consider the possibility of organizing follow-up events on climate change and human rights within its future programme of work;
  9. Requests the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to provide all the human and technical assistance necessary for the effective and timely realization of the above-mentioned panel discussion and summary report thereon, and the analytical study;
  10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
Photo caption: 29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland (2015) – Source: UN Geneva (UNOG) via Flickr – License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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