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Handa Center Program Associate Publishes Article on Human Rights and Climate Change

four panelists sitting at a table labeled "DOHA 2012 UN Climate Change Conference" with a blue banner reading the same behind them
Jul 7 2015

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Research & Publications

Handa Center Program Associate Jessie Brunner recently published an article on the topic of climate change and human rights in the Stanford International Policy Review. By outlining the multidinous ways that climate change very directly impedes the ability of populations to enjoy their inherent human rights, "Save a Seat for Human Rights at the COP21" outlines the urgent need for the topic to be addressed alongside environmental, economic, and political concerns at the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris. 

"The convergence of climate policy and human rights is natural. To begin, there are meaningful similarities between the treaty apparatuses underlying these two disciplines in international law. Much as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted by the UN general assembly in 1948, parties to the UNFCCC include all UN member states. Both foundational documents are essentially aspirational and legally non-binding, but both documents have served as a framework for relevant, binding treaties and protocols, such as the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Kyoto Protocol (neither of which has been ratified by the United States, incidentally). There is hope that with time, the aspirations of the climate movement, whether enforced limits on greenhouse gas emissions or protection of indigenous lands, will reach the customary law status of such human rights as the right to life or prohibition against slavery and torture. Pushing for the integration of critical human rights and environmental priorities at the Paris COP, a major world event, is a meaningful first step in making this a reality," writes Brunner. 

Read the full article here