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Human rights in danger of being sidelined in Paris climate deal

Jed Alegado
Human rights in danger of being sidelined in Paris climate deal


Norway, the US, and some European countries are said to be blocking the inclusion of human rights provisions in the binding part of the deal

LE BOURGET, France – A week before International Human Rights Day, human rights are at risk of being downplayed in the draft of the climate deal being negotiated here.

This came after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released the latest draft of the proposed text of the Paris climate deal. (READ: Climate negotiations move to next round)
From the 50-page document released Thursday, December 3, the draft is now down to 38 pages just a day before the ministerial presentation wherein the French presidency, as chair of the conference, accepts the draft text which parties will negotiate next week.
Norway, the US, and some European countries are said to be blocking the inclusion of human rights provisions in the binding part of the agreement.
Saudi Arabia, for its part, wants to exclude it completely, specifically the “rights of the people living in a foreign area.”
Observers who have access to the meetings said it was a toss-up between putting human rights protections on Article 2.2 (Purpose) which means it is more operative in nature, or in the preamble, the non-binding introduction (Article 1).
The current draft released on Friday has references to human rights in the preamble or the non-binding part, in Adaptation and in Purpose. However, the paragraph under “Purpose” which is more operative suddenly became bracketed compared to the previous draft – meaning it is still up for discussion and can be removed anytime.
Human rights in the Paris deal
The inclusion of human rights in the draft negotiating text was first put forward by the Philippine delegation in COP20 in Lima, Peru, last year.
During the first pre-COP21 climate meeting in Geneva in February, treating climate change as a human rights issue was acknowledged by 18 countries.
During the Ad Hoc Working group on the Durban Platform (ADP) negotiations in Bonn, Germany held on August 31 to September 4, the initiative gained more support and traction. Human rights in that negotiation period was not only seen as a discourse on basic human rights but was also expanded to include the rights of the most vulnerable sectors on the impacts of climate change – women, indigenous peoples, and local communities.
Test cases

The landmark ruling of a case filed by 886 Dutch citizens against their government over inaction on climate change served as a test case for the human rights dimension of climate change. In June, a court in The Hague sided with the citizens in a historical decision which compels the Dutch government to cut its carbon emissions by 25%.
The case put forward by civil society organizations led by Greenpeace Philippines before the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in September, will also be a precedent should this case prosper and win. The case looks into the 50 fossil fuel companies which the petitioners have accused of global warming and committing human rights violations.
In a press briefing in Paris, the CHR announced that on December 10, it will start hearings on the case against the 50 transnational companies for alleged violation of human rights through environmental pollution.

Holding oil, gas and coal companies responsible for deaths and financial losses in the Philippines “will be an uphill climb,” said CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz. –

Jed Alegado is a student of the Erasmus University Rotterdam-International Institute of Social Studies (EUR-ISS) in The Hague, Netherlands. He is also one of the climate trackers for Adopt A Negotiator (

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