Posts Tagged ‘Universal human rights Group’

The right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment (R2E) – further steps and historical decision in the Case of Torres Strait Islanders

November 9, 2022

Following the Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolutions recognising the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment (R2E), adopted in 2021 and 2022 respectively (HRC/RES/48/13 and A/RES/76/300), people have started to consider appropriate next steps in advancing the legal recognition, implementation, and monitoring of this right. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/11/new-right-to-healthy-environment-ngos-urge-action/

A blog post of the Universal Rights Group on 7 November 2022 reports on meeting on 18 October hosted by the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica in Geneva, UNEP, and the Universal Rights Group bringing together over 20 human rights experts from Geneva Permanent Missions in a non-attributable setting designed to promote open and forward-looking debate on appropriate next steps. The discussion was informed by an ‘options paper’ prepared by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Dr David Boyd, detailing three possible ways to advance the R2E, which he argued can and should be carried out concurrently.

In the meantime, a more operational development was the historic decision, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee found on Friday 23 September that Australia’s failure to adequately adapt to climate change violates the human rights of Torres Strait Islanders.   

Karin M Frodé, Andrea Olivares Jones and Joanna Kyriakakis reported on the case:

The Committee, which oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) received a complaint by eight Torres Strait Islanders and six of their children in 2019. The group called for the Committee to recognise that the Australian Government had violated their human rights by failing to reduce carbon emissions, and introduce measures to adapt to climate change.

The Committee’s decision makes clear that inadequate responses to climate change can result in the violation of human rights. It is a landmark victory worth celebrating as part of a broader trend in climate change litigation which has seen human rights arguments put forward to hold both states (ie, the NetherlandsPakistan and Belgium) and corporations (ie, Shell and other Carbon Majors) accountable. It is also an example of a rise in cases where Indigenous actors are central. 

The Committee’s decision: The Committee found that Australia has violated the Torres Strait Islanders’ rights to private life, home and family and their enjoyment of culture. In doing so, the Committee noted Australia’s efforts to construct a seawall, but found it to be an inadequate response to the alarming threats that had been raised by Torres Strait Islanders since the 1990s, due to its delay initiating the project ([8.12], [8.14]).

While decisions by UN bodies are not automatically binding in Australian law, they are persuasive opinions by independent experts that outline Australia’s international obligations and analyse whether they are complied with. The relationship between climate change impacts and human rights is an emerging area, so the clarity that decisions such as in the present case bring is critical. This decision is therefore important not only to the complainants but for other climate justice advocates. 

The present decision follows other climate related decisions by human rights bodies. In Teitiota, a case brought against New Zealand, the same Committee made important observations about state obligations and climate change in the context of asylum seekers and refugees, though it stopped short of finding a violation. Another complaint brought by young climate activists against five states for climate inaction before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, focused on child-centric impacts of climate change. Although dismissed for technical reasons, that decision made important findings that children fall within the jurisdiction of states where transboundary harm originates, following the approach of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/03/02/human-rights-high-commissioner-bachelet-urges-support-for-environmental-defenders/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/09/australia-violated-torres-strait-islanders-rights-enjoy-culture-and-family

Human Rights Day 2021

December 10, 2021

The United Nations has chosen for Human Rights Day 2021: the theme “All human, all equal” [for some action last year, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/international-human-rights-day-2020/]

At the heart of human rights lie the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Equality has the power to help break cycles of poverty; it can give young people the world over the same opportunities; it can help in advancing the right to a healthy environment; it can help tackle the root causes of conflict and crisis.

Equality “means that we embrace our diversity and demand that all be treated without any kind of discrimination,” says UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet. On Human Rights Day, we are calling for a new social contract. This means addressing pervasive inequalities and structural discrimination with measures grounded in human rights. It requires renewed political commitment, the participation of all, especially the most affected, and a more just distribution of power, resources and opportunities.

Equality and non-discrimination are the key to prevention of some of the biggest global crises of our time. Human rights have the power to tackle the root causes of conflict and crisis, by addressing grievances, eliminating inequalities and exclusion and allowing people to participate in decision-making that affects their lives. Societies that protect and promote human rights for everyone are more resilient and sustainable, and stand better equipped to weather unexpected crises such as pandemics and the impacts of the climate crisis. As we continue on the path towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and countries’ commitments to leave no one behind, we must strive for a world where a life of equality in dignity and rights is a lived reality for all.

—–

Bertrand G. Ramcharan on this occasion wrote for the Universal Human Rights Group in Geneva a blog post: Human Rights Day 2021: protect the right to be as well as the right to become

..What the Universal Declaration sought to do, seventy-three years ago, was to invite all governments to pursue human rights strategies of governance. That is to say, government policies and laws should take the precepts of the Universal Declaration as their basic starting point, and governments should be held accountable against those standards.

Human Rights Day this year is being commemorated at a time when the present and the future are joined together as perhaps at no other time in the history of the UN. The world is simultaneously facing a range of critical human rights crises, including a global pandemic, a biodiversity crisis, a pollution crisis, and a climate crisis. The human rights challenges presented by these crises overlay existing discrimination and inequality.

Regarding climate change, the recent Glasgow conference witnessed the tensions between those who fervently believe that the use of fossil fuels must be halted and those who equally fervently plead that they cannot feed and take care of their peoples if they precipitously stop the use of fossil fuels.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides the reference points, the frame of principles, for thinking through, formulating, and implementing policies on challenges such as these. It is a crucial document for every country.

The fourth principle is the rule of law, enshrined, among others, in article 10 of the Universal Declaration: ‘Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.’ The rule of law must be respected everywhere. In many countries it is not.

He then describes and discusses 8 cardinal principles and ends by quoting a leading drafter of the Universal Declaration, the Lebanese Philosopher Charles Habib Malik [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/b5b948da-a4a2-45d7-9ccc-6fd4d938fb24] ‘The very essence of freedom is the right to become, not only the right to be.

In our times, both the right to be and the right to become are under serious threat. On this Human Rights Day, the eight principles of the Universal Declaration enumerated above can help humanity protect the right to be as well as the right to become.

———-

For Human Rights Day 2021, award-winning filmmaker Shred Shreedhar has planned to release his animated short Reena Ki Kahaani which talks about human trafficking. The short is made for all age groups and is based on a real-life incident. Directed by Shreedhar, animation and creative direction was done by Ashish Wagh and PS Jayahari took care of the music.

Reena Ki Kahaani is based on the true story of Reena (name changed), a survivor of human trafficking. She got sold into the market of flesh trade on grounds of false promises only to be rescued later by Vihaan, the anti human trafficking NGO,” Shred Creative Lab director Shreedhar told AnimationXpress in an email interview. 

He revealed that they chose ‘folk as an art style to connect to the region from where the story originated’. “It helped in making the story more relatable.  The former National Geographic Channel India creative VP hopes that with this film, a heinous crime like human trafficking gets talked about more in the mainstream media.

About choosing animation as a medium, Shreedhar said, “Animation as a format is visually appealing to children as well as adults. The purpose was for the film and its message to reach out to not only adults and caregivers but children as well; so a difficult topic was made palatable for all age groups through an animated film so that the dangers are understood.

According to him, there wouldn’t have been a better day to highlight this reassuring story of courage and human grit in the face of a brutal violation of human rights and spirit. “Nothing celebrates Human Rights Day as the rise and triumph of the human spirit in Reena’s story,” he concluded.

Reena Ki Kahaani, the animated short film of nearly 10 minutes will be released on Shred Creative Lab’s YouTube Channel and other social media handles. 

https://www.standup4humanrights.org/en/2021/highlights_09.html

https://www.animationxpress.com/animation/set-to-release-on-human-rights-day-animated-short-reena-ki-kahaani-aims-to-create-awareness-about-human-trafficking/