What is it about?

Climate change is now viewed as a human rights issue. This is why International Human Rights Law (IHRL) sometimes prevails over International Environmental Law (IEL) in matters concerning its consequences. However, IHRL is territorial in nature—it views human rights violations as a specific, localised issue and attempts to place accountability on territorial jurisdiction while searching for causal events leading to the violation. A 2021 review now looks at IHRL from the perspective of climate change jurisdiction and suggests changes in IHRL to make it more appropriate. The authors of the article argue that a shift in IHRL, away from territoriality and more towards a global point of view, is more relevant for dealing with climate change jurisdiction. IHRL can learn from IEL, which uses common concern of humankind, a notion that encourages states to commonly share responsibility and cooperate to find a solution to a global problem. This principle may be more effective in dealing with human rights violations due to climate change.

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Why is it important?

Global warming affects humans across the world. It has progressed to being a global problem now, and every country suffers its outcomes. It is also a human rights violation, because it affects our basic human right to a healthy environment. However, local and national jurisdiction cannot solely be blamed for these violations because many countries have contributed to climate change. Moreover, tracing back the causative factor of each extreme event is impossible. Therefore, the territorial nature of IHRL is not effective in dealing with climate change issues. KEY TAKEAWAY By viewing climate change and its consequent human rights violations as a global responsibility, IHRL can enable judicial bodies to ensure a meaningful human rights response that effectively deals with the detrimental consequences of climate change.

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This page is a summary of: Addressing Climate Change through International Human Rights Law: From (Extra)Territoriality to Common Concern of Humankind, Transnational Environmental Law, June 2021, Cambridge University Press, DOI: 10.1017/s204710252100011x.
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