What is it about?

Climate change, in recent years, has been increasingly begun to be seen as a human rights issue. Those who are adversely affected by climate change are now exercising their basic right to justice, and in several in-stances of climate change litigation, this change has been recognised. This paper discusses climate change litigation from a human rights perspective and looks at related judgements passed by American govern-mental organisations as well as the United Nations. While international environmental law is a newer form of litigation, human rights laws have been in existence since almost 1948. Both these structures have independently evolved with time, with environmental law advancing at a faster pace than human rights law has done. Recently, however, a rise in international public law disputes regarding climate change has caused a growing involvement of international human rights litigation in environmental issues. Increasingly, judicial bodies in the US have allowed climate change re-lated claims under human rights treaties, which could cause a ‘ripple effect’ globally, making judicial bodies in other countries to follow suit.

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Why is it important?

Accepting climate change and its consequences as human rights violations increases the chances of litigation and justice being restored to those most affected by climate change, socioeconomically vulnerable populations such as Inuits. The Inter-American legal system has matured to develop such acceptance. The UN’s adoption of this approach in some cases has also greatly benefited communities globally. Greater wide-spread acceptance of climate change as a human rights issue will also increase accountability among corporations and global bodies. KEY TAKEAWAY The consequences of climate change are increasingly being viewed as human rights violations, with judicial bodies drawing upon principles of human rights law to pass judgements during climate change litigation.

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This page is a summary of: Climate Change as a Human Rights Issue: Litigating Climate Change in the Inter-American System of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, April 2021, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/9789004447615_015.
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